STOP MATH – Playtesting and Publishing
October 17th, 2012
We were approached about STOP MATH after we spoke on a game design panel at Webster University. Artist Jeff Weigel had been working on the app with a developer, but didn’t know what to do with it from there.
After discussing at length, Jeff decided he wanted to hire Happy Badger Studio to test, market, and publicize the app. This was the first time we had ever been asked to act as a 3rd party publisher on an game we didn’t create. It was new for us, but we were excited.
We knew that testing was probably going to be one of the most crucial elements that we would be helping with. A game or app can get a lot of attention, but if the user experience is poor, it ultimately won’t last. We tested the interactive storybook with kids of different ages, parents, and even a reading teacher. Playtesting opened our eyes to usability issues that, at first seemed insignificant, but proved to be major obstacles for children and parents as they tried to use the app.
Issues included labels that looked like buttons, page navigation that was inconsistent, and features that weren’t obvious enough for users to see. For example, the voice-over narration was originally initiated by tapping the text on the page. In our playtesting, nobody found this feature until we showed them, yet almost everyone wanted the book read to them. We made the recommendation to have the narration autoplay, and allow for easy toggling of this via a settings button.
With these changes made we did more rounds of testing, and were even able to take it up to Maplewood Richmond Heights elementary school to test with 4th and 5th graders in a school setting. As we tested with children, we noticed that the kids that have used touchscreen devices before were extremely comfortable exploring the app, and trying to find interactive elements. Children without this exposure were more tentative, and mostly stuck to the pagination controls.
Once we got approval from apple and our launch date was set, we began our social media push to generate anticipation for launch. We’re about a week after launch now, and downloads have been steady. We’ve submitted to several app reviewers, focusing on those that specialize in educational apps. We will also be experimenting with price and ads, and possibly even a lite version.