Your loveable, furry old pal Grover is now waiting tables inside your iPhone.
As part of its 40th birthday celebration, Sesame Street has just launched its first iPhone app. Grover’s Number Special was developed by Sesame Workshop and IDEO Toy Lab. It features some original video footage of the friendly monster, as well as an easy tilt-based game for little people.
It’s a simple game based on Grover’s old “confused waiter” sketch. Grover takes the order and heads for the kitchen on the next screen, where your preschooler can tilt the device this way and that to catch ingredients that mysteriously fall from the sky.
When your tray is full, you see all your ingredients disappear under a serving dish. The lid is lifted and *viola* they’ve become a meal as if by magic!
The game keeps track of how many of each ingredient you collect, but doesn’t seem to reward you for getting higher numbers. Which I love as a mom, but think would bore me quickly as a player.
Everything about the game would bore me quickly as a player, to be honest. Of course, I’m not the app’s target audience.
I ran it by a roomful of, um, “expert playtesters”: a two-year-old, her five-year-old sister, and two three-year-old friends. The kids figured out how to play much faster than I did. They huddled around the device, coaching each other and wrestling for a turn to hold it. They all seemed to love it, but only the two-year-old was willing to kill for it. What’s the life of a sibling next to a hot app?
Even the smallest of the crowd (that homicidal toddler) was able to intuit the game mechanics and play along. She didn’t mind at all that she wasn’t very good at it, and the older kids quickly became experts at catching soup ingredients and pieces of flying toast.
All of them had a blast trying to guess what tasty meals the ingredients they were catching would add up to. Saying the names of each food aloud as it began to fall from the ceiling also seemed to be a big hit.
After they’d played, I interviewed the sage elder among my focus group. At five, she knows from good video games. Plus, she can talk in full sentences. Here’s what she had to say:
Me: Did you like the Sesame Street game?
Me: What did you like about it?
Kid: You tip the phone and make food. I just liked it.
Me: Would you recommend it to other kids?
Kid: NO! I would not reco…um…rec…um…no.
Me: Why not?
Kid: Because they would not share.
So, there you have it, straight from a real kid: rush out and buy this game. But only for my five-year-old. Because those other kids have a sharing problem.
Photo: screenshot taken from app by Sesame Workshop