We are often asked to review children’s games, toys, and picture books, and in all honesty many are just variations on a theme. Occasionally, there is a real gem among them, and The Land of Me is one of these. It truly shines.
I gathered the children and set out to try the first chapter in the Land of Me, available to download for free from their website. From the first few seconds, we were hooked, swept up into a world where anything is possible.
We’ve since downloaded all six chapters, and have found the Land of Me becoming part of our everyday lives. We explore the Bramble Wood, laughing aloud when we make the lizard dart nervously across the screen, or when we can make Buddy Boo sneeze. We sometimes like to do nothing at all and wait until all the characters fall asleep and start drooling.
The children stare wide-eyed at Granny Olive as she introduces the Land of Me, and giggle when she falls asleep mid-sentence. My toddler is particularly taken with Granny Olive and nearly burst with happiness when we finally succeeded in waking her up to tell stories. We sit at the kitchen table, laptop open, one child balanced on each leg, and decide together whether today we’ll visit Yama-San and learn about shapes, colours and sizes, or whether we might want to learn a new dance, or perhaps make up stories. The children take turns choosing which character they’d like to be; my toddler loves Willow, a sweet, cheery little owl, and my four-year old’s favourite is the brave monster-loving raccoon, Eric.
As a parent, of course I am pleased to know that that what we’re playing has educational value and that it was designed specifically with Early Years curriculum in mind, but learning isn’t what makes me turn on the game day after day. I am fascinated by the tiny details that bring it all together – the coloured footprints pitter-pattering across the map to each new area of the Land of Me, the hidden extras that you only discover by mouse-over or clicking on secondary creatures on the screen.
I love that the interactive dialogue helps my children feel as though we are all learning, exploring and discovering together, and that the characters sound like people they might encounter in real life, with informal language and a variety of accents.
I enjoy watching how my children feel empowered by being able to shape the way they play the game by their own choices and decisions, and that taking turns and positive social interactions are integral parts of the Land of Me. Far from the high pitched beeps of many games, I quite enjoy the serene yet uplifting orchestral music – if cloud-watching or pond fishing from a rock on sunny day had a theme song, this would be it.
Overall 5 stars out of 5, and wishing I had a 6th star to award.
How it came to be
In July 2009 The Land of Me was a seed of an idea quietly flourishing in James Huggins’ head. As the MD of a Visual Effects school and a father of two toddlers, his quest for online games that were creative, educational and visually rich was largely unsuccessful. So, he simply decided to create some himself. Enlisting Mike Outlaw as Creative Director whose background was in visual effects and John Siraj-Blatchford, an Early Years professor, the core of his new company, Made in Me was established and out of that The Land of Me was born.
The essence of the idea was to create an experience that harnessed the power of children’s imagination, encouraged creative play, open conversation and above all a whole heap of fun. Everything had to be produced to incredibly high standards. Visually it had to conjure up the richness of a traditional storybook, the music was specially composed by an orchestra, the written content needed to be stimulating, charming and seemingly never-ending. In turn, every component of The Land of Me was created with our Early Years professor ensuring that the educational and developmental benefits met the same high standards as the visual and written content.
The Land of Me was created by a team comprising of three animators, two illustrators and the technical genius of digital agency, Less Rain. Working under the beady eyes of Mike, a year of hard work came to fruition at the end of last year when The Land of Me was launched.
In May 2011 Made in Me announced a partnership with Ladybird Books meaning from now on the iconic Ladybird logo will feature on all products from The Land of Me and in the near future they would be working together to create books, apps, toys and jigsaws. Watch this space!
Find out more about The Land of Me on www.thelandofme.com
Have you played Land of Me with your children? Add your review below!