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Pok Pok Playroom is a new kids game with no rules, launching today

A look at the Alto’s Adventure, Skate City developer’s new children’s app

Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Pok Pok Playroom — a new app from Pok Pok, a spinoff of Alto’s Adventure and Skate City developer Snowman — will launch today on Apple’s iOS App Store. Snowman announced the new studio earlier in March, debuting its first product, the Playroom. Pok Pok Playroom is a set of six touchscreen toys, with more to come later, set inside the app, designed as open-ended creative experiences for kids ages two to six. (For what it’s worth, I, a 32-year-old woman, also find the app appealing.)

“It’s just an extension of a real playroom,” Pok Pok CEO Melissa Cash tells Polygon. “It’s just another toy. We don’t want kids to just play with Pok Pok, but also play with other things — to go outside and get covered in mud and just be kids.”

A child using an iPhone Image: Pok Pok

The app and its six current toys are designed to be played with in an open-ended way, with no real rules or goals set up for children. That means the toys are things like a simple drawing tool, a set of switches and buttons to press, blocks to stack, or an interactive town to poke at. Things can be moved, switched, and spun around. Multiple kids can play at once, doing their own thing while also collaborating on the app — of course, if the iPad or iPhone screen is big enough.

“There are no instructions, no rules,” Cash says. “It can be confusing for adults.”

It’s a style of play that comes so naturally to children but is harder to understand for adults, who might expect a goal to reach. But in Pok Pok Playroom, players won’t necessarily be rewarded for their interactive play in the app. At least, not in the traditional sense: There’s no glitter, clapping, or booming voice congratulating children for a job well done.

an ipad with an image of a colorful town, set on a red background Image: Pok Pok

“Kids will feel an intrinsic sense of satisfaction just you do, probably when you put something in your oven and you take it out and it’s just perfect,” Cash says. “But it’ll still be good if you uncooked it or overcooked it [for] five minutes.”

Esther Huybreghts, Pok Pok creative director and co-founder, continues: “That’s the whole idea behind the open-ended play — that the reward is intrinsic. We won’t tell the kids what is right or wrong because they all start with a different mindset.”

Pok Pok Playroom launches Thursday with a 14-day free trial. After, there will be two subscription options: $3.99 per month or $29.99 per year. Pok Pok will continue to update Pok Pok Playroom with new toys to keep things fresh for subscribers.

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