Recently one of us brought up an article on the Huffington Post (from 2013, which is a million years ago in the app world) that explored the phenomenon of children’s apps being made by parents. The article is interesting in its own right, but it also sparked an interesting discussion here at Night & Day Studios. Is being a parent enough to make a good children's app? Can people make good apps for kids if they don't have kids of their own?
Of course, we got started because our founder wanted to make an app for his daughter — that’s where Peekaboo Barn came from — but for many kids app producers, it’s a bit more complicated than that.
For example, Nat, our founder, is an educational game designer who already had an extensive background in interactive media for museums and classrooms when he created our first app. He did much of this professional work before he ever had kids of his own. Compared to many of our peers in the kids app business, we are a very small company, yet we are more than the classic "dude in a basement": we have a programmer, a writer, a creative director, a graphic designer, a manager, and an animator all in employ, while Nat runs the business stuff (besides some sound design and other countless duties). The skills and experience of our staff is invaluable in making apps, whether for kids or not.
On the other hand, parents are the quintessential experts when it comes to children’s media; ideally, they know what children want, what they want their child exposed to, and know the educational needs of kids better than anyone else. If nothing else, it would be quite difficult to make apps for kids without the input of these experts! I’d argue that one of the secrets of Night & Day Studios’ success is that we are parents, educators, and kids at heart. I think few of us would want our child’s education being mediated by groups with only profit as a motive, so it makes sense that parents take the helm.
It’s a complicated conversation, and we’d love to hear what you think at our Facebook page. Perhaps you can complicate our thinking further.