7 Highlights of our Kids’ #AppDev Journey this year!
It’s been another year of change and growth at Minilab. We’ve taken our apps up and down the UK to bring them to new audiences, and we’ve been fortunate enough to receive some awards along the way. In this post we’re looking back on some of the best events of the year, as a handy catch-all for anyone who wants to learn more about us, and for our followers to see what’s coming up next…
1. The adventure has only just begun…
We spent Spring working our socks off to bring children all over the world both new apps and updates to our current products. In March, Artie’s World expanded to include the ‘Farm Friends’ and ‘Jungle Journey’ map packs. The update brought 30 new animals to the dot to dot drawing adventure, from a tiger to a pig! We also included a memory-boosting card game as a fun and useful bonus. Check out demos on our YouTube here.
2. Award-winning Artie!
No sooner had we completed work on Artie’s World, than Artie’s original drawing adventure made a comeback! We were honoured and grateful to receive a Special Mention for Artie’s Magic Pencil at the BolognaRagazzi Digital Awards, part of Bologna Children’s Book Fair. If you’re attending in 2018, we’ll see you there too! And it wasn’t just Italy that noticed our little artistic hero: the Digital Ehon Awards of Tokyo, Japan, awarded Artie the Yoichi Sakakihara Award. As a young company, awards such as these can make such a difference – a huge thank you to everyone involved.
3. Putting on a show…
As with last year, we had the opportunity to work with the extended Nobrow team and special guests for the 7th annual East London Comics and Arts Festival. This time, our special guests were Director Antoine Perez and Art Director Yann Benedi from the ‘Amazing World of Gumball’ team at Cartoon Network. Their talk summarised the nine-month-long creation of the episodes for each season, from initial animatics, to voice recording and jumping into diving suits to get the best photographs for the show’s collage-like style. If you’re London-based and have kids that love comics, the awesome indie scene is just waiting to be discovered – see you at ELCAF 2018…
4. Rocketing back to Professor Astro Cat
In July we switched the focus back to everyone’s favourite space-savvy feline. As the first character we worked with, we have a particular soft spot for the smartest cat in the alley. What better way to celebrate his genius than with a brain-boosting puzzle app? Galactic Genius with Astro Cat features 6 mini games to play, Daily Dashes with rewards for training your brain regularly, and cool space-themed stickers to collect.
5. Artie travels even further afield!
Having explored the Arctic, the jungle and a farm, there were still plenty of habitats from around the world that we were keen to bring to Artie’s World. In November, the ‘Ocean Odyssey’ and ‘Savannah Safari’ were added to the iOS versions of the game (for iPhones and iPads). But don’t worry – Google Play and Amazon Kindle users will soon be able to embark on these new adventures too. A further 30 animals, including a meerkat and a deep sea anglerfish, were introduced, complete with fun animations and spellings to practice.
6. Minilab, Big weekend
After the inaugural Explorer’s Fair in February we struck up a friendship with the Near Now team based at Broadway Cinema in Nottingham. We were therefore ecstatic when they asked us back, this time for a weekend workshop based entirely around us! Over a weekend in the October half term we had over a hundred children aged 3-10 playing our suite of apps, reading picture books, and crafting their own fantastical creatures and stop motion animations.
7. Uniting comics and education – yes please!
Our final highlight of the year arrived in the form of the galvanising and inspiring Pop Up Lab 2017. Organised by the fantastic Pop Up team, this conference for educators in Peterborough featured unique creators and advocates of creative education presenting arguments for bringing more drawing and project-based fun into the classroom experience. We gave a talk alongside Nobrow on how we turned Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space book into an interactive app experience, and how books and apps can intersect and enrich the curriculum.
So, what can you expect from us next year? We’ve certainly got one big secret under wraps (you’ll have to follow us @minilabstudios on Twitter and Facebook for updates on that!), but we can share a few things… Artie’s World will be updated early next year to include the Ocean and Savannah packs on Google Play and Amazon, and we also have our first few events planned. Fellow indie devs, gamers, and edtech enthusiasts can catch us at Pocket Gamer Connects and the BETT 2018 conference in January.
That’s all for 2017! Thank you to all of our followers and supporters – stay tuned for the next big steps along the Minilab journey…