“Dr. Panda” is an independent kids’ game franchise that develops games with educational values that help kids learn about the world. All of their games are safe and do not contain inappropriate content, in-app purchases or any third-party advertising. Located in the city of Chengdu in China, a panda was chosen as the franchise mascot because the Chengdu area of China is the home of the Giant Panda species. Moreover, pandas are a symbol of pride for the people of Chengdu. Plus, pandas are cute and fascinating creatures.
Dr. Panda’s combination of role play elements, open-ended play and expressive characters are what make the games so loved by children. Kids love to perform activities which they can relate to but are too small for in real life like being a cook, a bus driver, or a doctor. With Dr. Panda and his animal friends, kids get to explore everyday situations in a safe and playful environment.
To add to the fun, the games are packed with little hidden secrets and with items kids can collect. The company makes sure that to always give direct feedback and make results visual, so that children can feel proud of themselves.
Additionally, Dr. Panda games contain values that go beyond learning the alphabet and math. The people at Dr. Panda believe that games can play a supporting role in kids’ development by helping kids learn about the world in a broader and deeper sense. That is why Dr. Panda games touch on subjects that kids recognize. Each Dr. Panda game lets kids explore a different aspect of everyday life from cooking and traffic, to gardening and art. They aim to create experiences in games that are applicable in real life.
Dr. Panda strives to make their products trusted by parents all over the world. They want parents to know their children are safe while playing Dr. Panda and that they are learning and spending their time in a positive way. Therefore, Dr. Panda aims to have a constant dialogue with parents in order to help improve their products and further suit their wants and needs.
On April 7, 2016, the company released their latest app: “Dr. Panda School.” In Dr. Panda School kids will be able to explore the typical school setting with fun and creative activities such as painting and sculpting in the art room, growing plants in the school yard, teaching a history class, and even making their own food in the cafeteria!
Essentially, “Dr. Panda School” is an adorable app that, true to the franchise, gives kids the option to choose their own adventures. Features such as an art room, an adorable classroom hamster, the cafeteria and a chalk board that you can actually write on add to the whimsical nature of the game. Possibly the most delightful part of the school setting is the outdoors playground where you can slide, swing or even grow a garden. The app also offers children the chance to play a wide array of characters and it is even possible to pretend to be a janitor! Overall, this is a charming and excellent game that will surely keep little ones occupied for hours.
Recently Lin Yan, the Co-founder and Executive Producer of the Dr. Panda franchise, and Tom Buyckx, the CCO, spoke to the Examiner about their experiences working with the company:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): When was Dr. Panda started and why was that specific name chosen?
Lin Yan (L.Y.): Dr. Panda started in 2012 when we launched our first game “Dr. Panda Teach Me.” We chose a Panda since they are known to be cute and cuddly. Since the mission of Dr. Panda is to help kids to learn about the world via our games, we added a doctorial hat to the character to stress the learning perspective, and so our panda became Dr. Panda.
M.M.: Right now how many apps do you have? How do you come up with their themes?
L.Y.: So far we have 25 apps. We try to cover different aspects of the life of a preschooler beyond curriculum content. We have many brainstorm sessions about themes that might interest kids as well as parents, but also listen to our fans about what kind of next Dr. Panda game they would like to see.
M.M.: Do you plan to expand into physical toys one day too?
Tom Buyckx (T.B.): Yes. We actually have a plush toy available on Amazon for the US and Taobao for China. However, we realized that for Dr. Panda to be successful, we need to create products that stay close to our values. This is why the plush toy is more of a nice to have for our fans and why we are currently developing a new type of toy that will truly excite our fans, as well as kids who haven’t heard from Dr. Panda before.
M.M.: To date, what has been the most rewarding part of working with Dr. Panda?
L.Y.: To see the smile on kids face, definitely! Kids are the best testers, they are so honest that sometimes it is hard to face the immediate judgement they have on the app you worked on so hard for so long. But their smiles are also very genuine. It is very rewarding to know that the games we create are providing meaningful and positive play time for kids.
M.M.: Where do you hope Dr. Panda will be in ten years?
T.B.: It’s our dream to make Dr. Panda a best friend for all kids around the world. This is where we would like to be at in the future. It means we want to make Dr. Panda a part of kid’s journey in discovering and learning about the world, but being a ‘best friend’ also means we have to be trusted. We care deeply about the trust kids and their parents give us and will keep creating safe and fun products to earn this trust over and over again.
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is striving to enter the app game industry?
T.B.: Understand your purpose, your audience, and create a strategy that serves these as best as possible. The app industry has become far more competitive the past couple of years and investors are becoming increasingly demanding. In the past many app developers entered the market hoping to create a one hit wonder without a long term vision or strategy. In the early days you might have been lucky, but with increased competition and larger brands understanding the value of the app market, you really need to have a professional approach.
M.M.: Are there any upcoming events that you would like to mention?
T.B.: We are still enjoying the excitement about our latest release “Dr. Panda School,” which came out on April 7th and is our first 2D title in 2 years! However, the team is already preparing a next game which will appear in May. We can’t yet tell you what the game will be, but kids who like cars will certainly love it!
* * * * *
To learn more, visit the Dr. Panda website. To download the app visit iTunes, Google Play and Amazon.