Sunday December 9 2018
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Street Smarts

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Games commonly found on mobile devices and larger consoles nowadays usually revolve around violence, entertainment, or some combination of mindless activity and often inappropriate content.

Angry Birds, Candy Crush, Clash of Clans, and the violent Call of Duty series or Halo are among the most popular for people of all ages, especially teens.  

Despite age restrictions that attempt to prevent children under a certain age from playing, kids consistently find a way.

That probably won’t change for some time.

So Valencia, Pa. native Rosemarie Thompson decided to change the games.

Thompson created “Street Smart Kidz,” a game that seeks to take the entertainment aspect of popular apps and blend in useful, practical information children can absorb and carry with them for the rest of their lives.

“It’s such a simple game, but it’s so informative,” Thompson said. “It’s going to build confidence for these children, make them aware of their surroundings. It empowers them in skillful and creative ways.”

The game itself, recommended for children ages 3-11, involves the child going around the virtual game board and being presented with potentially dangerous situations. The players advance by correctly identifying the correct way to handle five main safety scenarios – drugs, bullies, strangers, fires and guns.

Each scenario has five questions. Those five questions then lead to more questions.

“The game is designed to start conversations between kids and parents, kids and grandparents,” said Thompson.

The origin of the game began all the way back in 1988, when Thompson’s youngest daughter, Linda, used to constantly wander off without hesitation.

“When (Linda) was younger, she didn’t have any fear whatsoever,” Thompson said. “She would just take off. She would go to anybody, talk to anybody, and take whatever she wanted from somebody. (My mother) said just make a game out of it. So I did.”

Thus, “Street Smart” was born.

The homemade board game consisted of a white poster board and colorful tiles that spread around a little town. Thompson asked her daughter questions off cue cards to teach her how to be safe. Linda loved playing the game, so Thompson continued to tweak it and share it with her other children and grandchildren years later.

Recently, Linda—now an adult—gave her mother the idea to take this nearly 30-year-old board game and turn it into a mobile app for handheld devices. In April of 2015, Thompson joined forces with Zco Corporation, an app development company, to help make this idea become a reality. 

Once the developers at Zco saw an artist’s rendition of the game board, they were instantly hooked by the game’s originality and creativity.

Street Smart Kidz was released Nov. 24, 2015, for both Apple and Android devices. The game is available for purchase on the App Store and Google Play Store for $1.99.

The initial goal for the rollout of Street Smart Kidz was 150 sales within the first 24 hours of its release. So far, the Thompsons estimate that there have been around 1,000 downloads of the game between iTunes and Google Play.

Street Smart KidsLinda Thompson is focusing on heavily marketing the product through events, even plans of overseas expansion.

She has hosted events at multiple venues, such as the Carnegie Science Center, and plans on going to more in order to get more kids interested in the game.

Thompson said she is also working on getting the game translated into Spanish and German, though no formal timetable is set for a possible release in either language.

Of the three customer reviews listed on both iTunes and Google Play, all gave Street Smart Kidz a perfect five-star rating.

To learn more, visit the app’s website, www.streetsmartkidz.net.

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