In order to create a successful and strong product, I must look at other products involving the periodic table and similar applications made for kids to see how they create and implement their products for kids. This can ultimately benefit me as it allows me to review their work in both a negative and positive light which then can reflect and allow room for inspiration for my own project. I need to look/dissect apps or media that are specific to kids finding out how they created it and the motives behind it.
For these competitor analyses, however, I want to look at how the periodic table is presented in various platforms/devices. Although, I am moving towards basing my app on a tablet. I want to make sure I have covered as many possible platforms as needed before I start to further pursue my project.
I will break my competitor analysis up into two parts, researching each application on each platform as follows:
First Analysis (Animation)
- Videos – Youtube, Vimeo, etc.
Second Analysis (Mobile)
- Mobile Applications
What is it?
Mr. Material is a free-to-play quizzed-based elemental app found on the AppStore. Its purpose is to educate kids on the periodic table through fun and progressive quizzes. It involves a linear progression system in which the difficulty gradually increases the more the user advances.
Looking at the home screen we find an animated logo/background. This makes the game more interactive and more appealing to children due to the constant movement of different elements. The screen contains a “best score” section at the bottom allowing users to showcase their scores. This type of accomplishment/feedback is critical for the engagement of a child as they love being rewarded for their actions and feeling accomplished while doing a task no matter how easy it is.
Additionally, at the top we see a FAQ section guiding the user through the app and explaining all of its functions. As well as a setting bar to mute/unmute game.
After selecting the ‘Play’ button we find ourselves in a linear system. Many kid games include these types of systems e.g. Super Mario Bros as it creates an adventure. The great thing about this game is you can go back and play a level to achieve a higher score. Additionally, another great thing about this game is that it isn’t competitive such as a user doesn’t have to achieve a high score to unlock a level no matter how low the score is. This can be very helpful for kids who are struggling to answer the correct questions.
The game uses a maximum of four selectable answers with one being correct. There is a countdown timer so the user has to think fast. The correct answer will light up bright green if correct and bright red if wrong. These saturated colours play a huge part in capturing critical feedback back to the kids as studies have shown that bright saturated colours in kids affect the bodily functions, mind and emotions. The score is also posted at the top left to further give the user feedback with an exit button at any time. However, once you get a question wrong you will automatically be transferred to a bright red screen notifying the user they have lost a life. However, if all lives are lost it is only the score that is affected.
One of the things I dislike about this app is the feedback it gives the user such as “Sorry, you lost a life”. It is quite intimidating, especially for a child. A more appropriate feedback response would be like “Uh, oh!… You have lost one heart.” The bright red screen that signifies danger also doesn’t help when it pops up as it is quite overwhelming to look at.
Little Alchemy 2
What is it?
Little alchemy is a free-to-play kids game on the AppStore that involves the user creating different compounds through various reactions of materials provided and created. Starting from scratch and working your way up to unlock every compound the app provides. It is a unique app where it educates children through trial and error.
The app starts off with a guided tour of each section of the app. This is very helpful for children and even adults such as me as I was confused the first time I opened Little Alchemy 1 and it had no guide. You start off with a few compounds to use such as air, earth, fire and water and from there you have to work your way up to achieve up to 710 unlockables. For example, putting water and fire together creates steam which then is archived in your inventory, further mixing this with air creates rain, etc. This is an extremely unique and great way of learning as it uses the child’s curiosity to find out what happens if I mix two chosen elements together. Over time, this game gets more strategic involving more brainpower ultimately making the game feel more rewarding when you unlock a new compound.
Additionally, there are animations for each element when you unlock new items creating more of an immersive experience while playing. Although the app’s primary colours are slightly on the more rustic darker site this makes the bright and vibrant items/compounds crash in contrast which creates more of an illuminative scene providing more attention to the unlockables.
An additional thing I love about this game is when you are stuck for a certain period of time tips may appear and tell you to mix one compound with another. This is very beneficial to children as they can be easily frustrated and quit the game when it gets tough. Another thing is the use of achievements in this game which creates a more rewarding experience. Similarly, I want to include achievements in my elemental app.
Taking a look at the reviews gives us a second idea of how other people interacted with the app and found it, unfortunately for the Mr. Material app there were very limited reviews left, but Little Alchemy 2 has plenty.
I noticed in the reviews many people had the utmost positive responses for this game, talking about how addictive, educational and fun it is to play and learn. From reading many of the comments it seems to be mainly parents or kids themselves are writing the reviews. Pheonix 36’s review shows how educational it can be but at the same time, it can be fictional such as creating a unicorn, although these fictional items are more of an easter egg than an actual part of the story it is interesting to see a mixture between both worlds allowing kids to play, solve and learn by themselves.
It was great to see many of the Apps that specialize in the periodic table and elements. It has shown me different ways I can mix both learnings and playing into my element project. Additionally, it has gave me a view other ideas for how I can design the UI and what icons, colours, buddies I can include in mine.