SNAbaKEby Zoo is game that I created for little kids. So many times I had to witness parents giving their children a tablet or smartphone, to avoid being interrupted when they wanted to chat with another adult. But the flashy games they played were nonsense without any valuable content. I looked for teaching games but most were static puzzles and unappealing. There was nothing for both, a fascinating game with an educational background.
As a computer programmer with a background of 34 years I wanted to create a game myself then. I took an online class from a university about education for small children and worked on many concepts. Then I had the idea for SNAbaKEby, a game with a hidden structure to teach children how to string words together. It is not about learning the words, it is about creating a learning pattern in the developing brain of the children. In the following steps I will explain the complexity behind a simple game.
(The target audience are little children, there is no advertising!)
Step 1: Intro Screen
The intro screen shows a little tutorial of the game to keep the intuitive learning theme. The head of a snake and a comic hand appear in the upper left area. The hand conveys the impression of pushing the surface and leading the snake head to the right. Every letter touched by the snake head disappears and a new green segment following the head appears.
To continue to the next screen click or tap on the big snake icon in the center.
Step 2: Menu
SNAbaKEby Zoo has 10 levels shown by the faces of comic animals. At the beginning the last 2 are hidden and except the first 2 all others are greyed out and become accessible by finishing the previous levels. The difficulty of the levels is represented by the length of the animal names. The game saves your progress of finished levels, but not of active games. If your child asks for help playing the game, please do not turn the child away even when you want to challenge the comprehension and deduction skills a little more. It takes time and smiles.
Click or tap on an animal face to start the level.
Step 3: First Level
The ape is the animal of the first level in our zoo. The child has to direct the SNAbaKEby to eat the yellow letter A. The letter disappears while the next letter of the word appears, the letter P. If the letter E is eaten afterwards, in the top left corner an ape like icon appears. This will happen after every time the letters of the name of the animal are fullfilled. After 3 times eating the yellow letters A, P, E, then additional blue random letters will appear. The child now has to stay with the yellow letters to add ape icons in the top left corner. If SNAbaKEby eats a blue letter, one ape icon will be removed and the yellow letter is changed to the first letter of the animal (A). If it eats itself, the level restarts.
This way the child is tought to string the 3 letters into a simple word with a visual connection. If the child does not understand the subtraction of animal icons and continues to eat the wrong letters, the additional letters will disappear when the animal icons are lesser then 4.
Step 4: Higher Levels
The child has to prove it learned to repeat the letters of the word and not chose the letters by their colour. This is why the colours of the animal letters and the additional letters alternate and shuffle.
In the first 2 levels (ape, pig), the animal letters and the additional letters have the opposite colour. In the following 2 levels (panda, hippo), the animal letters and additional letters have the same colour and increase the difficulty for the child. The next 2 levels (snake, parrot) have mixed colour for the additional letters. The rabbit's first letter is blue while the other letters are yellow, while for the giraffe the last letter has a different colour. Completing the latter level will unlock 2 extra levels, penguin and elephant. There are 2 letters N in the word penguin and one of these is of a different colour. The last level offers all tricks. The word elephant has 3 blue and 5 yellow letters with mixed additional letters.
Step 5: Difficulty
Not just the colours of the letters change by higher levels. The length of the animal name influences the length SNAbaKEby can reach and additionally increases the difficulty. Additionally the speed grows in higher level, making the game quite a challenge for younger children.
The game was made for my nephews and nieces which even enjoyed playing it. It was the idea of their parents to publish it for children and here it is: