Brian Linder wanted his boys, ages 7 and 10, to clean up their rooms. He told them once, while they stared zombie-like into the faces of their iPod Touch devices. They ignored him.
So he told them a second time, and then a third. That’s when Linder, who lives in the M Streets, started to feel a little less than sane. He made a smart-aleck comment: “Why don’t you guys download an app that will clean your room for you.”
Aha! That’s how he first conjured the idea for his app, You Rule, which attempts to solve the age-old problem of convincing kids to do their chores.
“I knew I was going to start this venture to make apps, and I’ve been working on it a long time, sketching them out,” he says.
Linder, who was a creative director at the Richards Group for 10 years, started Opposite Inc. with his friend, who is a programmer. You Rule, available for iPhone, is their first app. The game allows kids to choose a character, and as they check chores off a list their parents make, their character “levels up,” meaning they get bigger and better. One character starts out as a cute kid, and as he levels up, he receives a jumpsuit, then a mask, then a helmet, then a motorcycle. Kids also earn coins in the game, and parents can add real-life incentives, such as money or privileges.
“We weren’t sure if it was going to work,” Linder says, “if it would really be enough to motivate kids to do their chores.”
But in tests, they found the app really does work. Some kids like the competitive aspect — they want to earn more gold coins than their siblings. Older kids like the incentives — the app makes it easy to see what chores must be completed for them to earn enough money to go to the movies, for example. And little kids just like to see their coins and what happens to their characters as they level up.
Nowadays, Linder doesn’t feel like he’s losing his sanity when it’s time for the boys to clean up their rooms. “I just say, ‘Have you checked off your chores?’ and off they go,” he says. “It spits them away from the phone and gets them into something productive.”
The kids feel empowered, and the parents’ lives are a little easier. An update to the app, coming in January, will allow everyone in the family to connect to the app from their own devices.
Linder is working on a second app, called “What do I Say?” which is due for release in mid-January. It’s an interactive children’s book for iPad that asks kids to record a set of words at the beginning. The story is about an alien who discovers his own voice, and the child’s voice becomes part of the story.
You Rule costs $3.99 (on special for $1.99 through Dec. 25, 2011) and is available in the iTunes app store.
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