DevChat: Teach Your Monster to Read
Teach Your Monster to Read is part of The Usborne Foundation, which was founded by children’s publisher, Peter Usborne MBE with his children Nicola and Martin.
Peter Usborne has over 40 years of experience creating children’s books and Nicola and Martin also bring with them a wealth of experience creating books and interactive educational resources for children. Together, they wanted to use this knowledge to first address the ongoing crisis in early literacy, which sees too many children fail to learn to read. The goal was to combine education, research and technology to make this difficult task both interactive and fun.
With this in mind, Teach Your Monster to Read, a suite of online literacy games, was born. The games create a fun, playful environment in which over 15 million children have already tackled their first steps of reading.
The success of Teach Your Monster to Read has led the team behind the game to find new ways to help improve the lives of children through learning and education. They aim to create exciting learning experiences through engaging stories, technology, people led design and of course, fun.
They have now also turned their focus to the growing issues with childhood obesity in the UK. Their aim is to create new, interactive ways to help children learn about healthy food.
We had the opportunity to talk to Alex Goss, product manager of Teach your Monster How to Read, and Jonathan Skuse, the game’s co-designer and co-developer, about their game and their experience and reasons for publishing their game on the Amazon Appstore.
Why did you choose to publish your game on the Amazon Appstore and for Amazon Fire tablets?
“We chose to publish Teach Your Monster to Read on the Amazon Appstore because, like any app developer, we want to be where the attention is. Kids play games on all sorts of devices, so it was important to us that we help kids learn to read whether they’re playing in the car on their dad’s phone, sitting at the kitchen table playing on a tablet, or in school during an ICT lesson.”
How do Amazon customers fit into your target group? What is the value of Amazon customers compared to other audiences?
“We don’t think there’s one sort of Amazon customer, so there isn’t one answer to this. However, many parents with young kids use Fire tablets. What’s special about these tablets is that there’s also a dedicated Kids Edition tablet. We’ve also released a version of Teach Your Monster to Read that’s available in FreeTime Unlimited, Amazon’s subscription service for kids content. Amazon designing a tablet built from the ground up for kids goes hand-in-hand with the efforts we put into creating impactful educational games.”
How does your game perform on Amazon Fire Tablets?
“Teach Your Monster to Read performs well on the Amazon Appstore. We think that comes down to excellent QA, listening to feedback from Amazon customers, and working closely with the Amazon Appstore team.”
What is your experience developing your game for Amazon devices?
“Our game started out as a Flash web game about 8 years ago, and it’s now available on all app stores, plus there’s an HTML version on the web. It’s fair to say that it’s come a long way since then and with over 150 million plays, it’s exceeding everyone’s expectations! Developing the game for Amazon has needed little overhead. Amazon’s devices behave in a coherent way; meaning we can develop with confidence due to low fragmentation.”
What is your experience publishing and maintaining the game on Amazon devices? Any tips for other developers?
“It’s been quite straightforward to maintain a stable app on Amazon devices. Fire Kids Edition tablets are a great choice for parents who want to give kids a tablet experience designed just for them while also having peace of mind that the content their kids are viewing is kid-friendly. For those not currently publishing to Amazon devices, we’d say it’s extremely likely that you’re missing out on a big opportunity to reach your audience.”
Getting started with Amazon Appstore
Amazon offers several tools and documents to get you started. You can test your existing APK within minutes to help you understand potentially required adaptations (if any). The Developer Portal also offers a variety of extensive documents to help you implement Amazon specific services, such as Login with Amazon, Amazon Device Messaging or the In-App Purchasing API.