Another day, another story about a game development victory that originated in Belgium. Today, we’d like to tell you the tale of how Pok Pok Playroom, a digital toy box dreamt up by a Belgian animator couple, crowned itself one of the winners of the 2021 Apple Design Awards, beating fierce competition like Apple Arcade gem South of the Circle.
Pok Pok is the brainchild of animators Esther Huybreghts and her husband Mathijs Demaeght. The idea came to them when they were looking for an app for their two year old that wasn’t loud or annoying, and matched his current skill sets. When they didn’t find something like that, they decided to start building it themselves. Little did they know that the animated picture book they were working on would become the first step of something much bigger.
After their studies, they landed a job as contractors with Canadian game studio Snowman. Their kid really liked the picture book and when the couple showed it to the owners of Snowman, they shared the enthusiasm. Believing there to be a solid market for this kind of experience, they doubled down on the idea and founded a separate studio. The following three years were used to expand on the idea of open-ended play. After a lot of research and hard work, Pok Pok Playroom was launched just a month ago on the App Store.
The digital toy box is aimed at children aged 2 to 6. During that time, the motor and cognitive skills of a child evolve rapidly and not at the same pace with every child, so the toys were specifically designed to appeal to every targeted age group. The sole limit being the creativity and the urge to explore of the particular child. Whether your kid just likes to throw around some blocks or go on a pretend holiday with the digital playmat, each toy brandishes a minimalist art style and relaxing sound effects. We probably shouldn’t admit this, but it’s really fun to have a go at it.
The animated picture book is still in there and it’s simply gorgeous. It’s a silent (well, figuratively), lovely reminder of the earnest beginnings of a project that started somewhere in a Belgian living room. Just two parents trying to find a way to bring joy to their kid through the power of play. Here’s hoping Pok Pok Playroom is able to transfer the love for play to many other parents and children.