Bonnie lives with her family in a big, old house. It’s almost bedtime, and everyone is getting ready for bed — everyone but Bonnie. She has just dressed up as a ghost, and is sneaking around the house trying to scare her family as much as possible! And she needs your help!
The play design of this app is based on a game you’ve probably experienced: A giggling kid hides behind a curtain and suddenly jumps out to surprise you. The bigger your reaction, the more amusing it is to the kid.
In this project I wanted to explore a rather unusual mood in apps for children: spooky, a little scary, and full of tension — the mood that makes hide-and-scare games so exciting. I found inspiration in reading “Who Will Comfort Toffle?” with my own daughter and watching her become fascinated by the magical, melancholic atmosphere in Tove Jansson’s world of the Moomins. We mixed that inspiration with a lot of crazy humor to create the unique experience of Toca Boo.
How to play
You are in charge of the ghost. Drag her around the house to sneak up on family members. Tap the person you want to scare to make the ghost jump forward and scream “Boo!” To get the biggest reaction, the ghost has to be hidden when making the scare.
Tap the person you want to scare to make the ghost jump forward and scream “Boo!” To get the biggest reaction, the ghost has to be hidden when making the scare.
Some of the furniture will appear in front of the ghost. If you let go of the ghost behind the furniture, she will hide and be invisible to her victim. You can also hide in one of the blue marked spots that sparkle when the ghost is close, like the play tent or one of the beds. Let go of the ghost there, and she will be sucked in automatically.
If the ghost is hidden when you tap a family member, the poor victim of the prank will get so scared that he or she runs out of the room. Now you get the opportunity to chase the victim to the next room.
The characters in the Toca Boo house all have their own source of light to show their way through the dark house. If the ghost gets into that light she gets discovered and will be a bit disappointed. You don’t lose anything, it just interferes with your sneaking attempts.
You can also tap the interactive objects around the house, marked with pink details, to create a spooky atmosphere and make the person in the room nervous.
And at last but not least: Have a bite of plum, chili, and soda pop to add spectacular effects to your boos.
To talk about
The characters and setting in Toca Boo are designed to be interesting and open for interpretation and imagination. Different kids will have different ideas about what’s going on: Is it a haunted house or a regular home? Is the man the grandpa, the dad, or a stranger? Is it a real ghost?
Most kids we’ve met during the production think the scaring and reactions are hilarious. At the same time, there’s a tension and darkness in the app that might challenge some. Preschool kids are sometimes afraid of imaginary things that aren’t always obvious to us grown-ups. Your child might may not tell you if he or she is scared but ask you to join in and play. With your help this can be a chance for your child to learn to manage emotions and become confident when taking on new challenges — useful things in everyday life.
At the very start of the app you can see that the ghost really is a little girl who puts a sheet over her head. And talking about the people in the house as family members who love to play hide and seek might help ease some of the tension.
Chris Lindgren, Play Designer