Monster Missions is an interactive app and toy experience that helps young children overcome worry and develop the independence to initiate routines by reimagining them into adventures. It frames normally unwanted tasks into children's perception of "play".
Here, children are considered Agents, accompanied through missions with the monster Sidekicks. Their parents are Inspectors, in charge of selecting and assigning them missions.
Monster Missions consists of a Smart Plushie (Sidekick) and an accompanying app. Within the app, connected accounts are created for the Parent and Child. Parents can assign missions and track progress. Completed missions unlock unique, but simple, interactive activities within the Child's account, inspiring return and continued usage, with a focus on offline actions.
Sidekicks accompany Agents through a variety of environments that animate as the day passes. Children can initiate and view missions in-app, but their content is very limited until they complete a mission.
Children are given simple novelty interaction on the actual app as rewards for mission completions. It inspires just enough satisfaction to be rewarding but instils greater desire to begin and play through missions in real life, rather than on a phone or tablet. Their accounts are only rich with content when missions are completed.
Designing for young children means keeping in mind that these users: can't read; have limited attention spans; have fluctuation interests; don't have constant access to devices.
Monster Missions' multi-channel ecosystem utilizes NFC Technology, fingerprint recognition, WiFi Linking, and audio prompting to create a system where children are provided a way to feel safe even when they're away from the app and their parents.
Labelling monsters as Sidekicks ensures the child Agents are in leadership positions of focus and importance. This frames Sidekicks as both friends and protector.
The Sidekick smart plushie, acting dually as a child's interactive device and comfort item, bridges the gap between the Digital and Real worlds. Equipped with a unique NFC Account ID, the Sidekicks help Agents sign in with the wave of a hand! Agents scan their fingerprints to complete the process. Within the Sidekick's hand is also a button, acting as a confirmation tool when missions are in-play.
NFC tabs can connect physical world objects with digital spaces. NFC can run commands within a device just through touch! Combining this with accessories for Sidekicks can extend the toy's lifespan and expand playability.
Each Mission has a dedicated launch page detailing the name, activity, and estimated completion time. The Mission Log is a visual tracker and reminder system. Here, parents are given the flexibility to adjust completion requirements, deadline, and start-times for each mission. With this, families are able to easily integrate Monster Missions into their existing routines.
By referring Inspectors by names familiar to their children, it creates a more trustworthy environment while adding to the role-playing aspect. Requiring a password provides friction if a child tries to log-in to their parent's account later on — whether accidentally or purposely.
Providing the pronounciation of a child's name allows the app to add a sense of personalization and attachment when the Sidekick "speaks" to the child.
A validation process reliant upon parental approval ensures parents aren't isolating themselves from their children's lives. They are able to keep track of how their children develop. This opens lines of communication between both parties, allowing the child to speak about their troubles and set up plans of action.
Monster Missions features Specialty and Routine missions. This ensures a personalized experience, tailored to each individual child. Specialty Missions focus on overcoming issues. Whether hunting for hidden monsters, encouraging good nutrition habits, or easing an Agent's fear of the dark. Routine Missions establish daily activities for children — from washing up for meals, to brushing their teeth, to getting ready for bed.
Creating characters children could grow emotionally attached to was crucial in order to retain their interest. This frames the Agents as both friends and protectors in children's minds, ensuring they continue to play — thus continue to grow.
Associating playful colours and cute visuals with something as commonly feared as monsters aims to help instigate coping methods through subconscious cognitive restructuring.