Toca Boca, the award-winning Children's app brand, just announced the release of their latest title "Toca Life: Office." The app enables kids to play with avatars in an office setting, role-playing as if they were adults. Kids can use printers to print documents, make copies with the copy machine, and complete a desk puzzle to unlock a secret. The app also lets kids assume the role of a helicopter pilot and a chef cooking meals.

Toca Boca prides itself on creating virtual playsets that enable children to explore realistic themes in fantastical settings.

“Toca Life: Office” is filled with quirky characters and improbable circumstances which make it fun and engaging even for people who are far older than the intended age-range of six to nine.

Courtesy of an exclusive interview, play designers Petter Karlsson and Willow Mellbratt recently discussed their experiences developing this game, their experiences working with "Toca Boca," and more.

Offices, apps, characters, and children

Meagan Meehan (MM): What inspired you to create this app in an office-type setting?

Willow Mellbratt (WM): The office concept came from the overall vision of the Toca Life series to provide situations that are part of a kid’s everyday life. The parent’s day, while not directly part of the kid’s life, happens every day.

If a parent works out of the house, the child is left, leaving them to only imagine what their parents do all day without them. That element of imagination is why we have this fantasy layer of super-heroism over the top of office, as the situation itself is slightly fantastical for children.

MM: Although this is called "Toca Office" it also features places like a bank, a daycare center, a repair garage, a bank, a restaurant, a courthouse, and an apartment--what led to this awesome mix of settings?

WM: A major part of the role-play of working in an office is getting ready for work, dropping the kids off at daycare, having lunch, and also getting money out. We saw that kids were really requesting a bank so this made sense to put in. And I really wanted to bring in the role-play of crime and punishment along with the super-heroism, so the courthouse scene supports this in a way that is not too severe!

MM: This game features a bank where the vaults can be opened and a courthouse with a jail...and a secret escape hatch! Were you inspired by any action films and do you think children will catch on to the "cops and robbers" potential of this?

WM: Haha - a BIG inspiration was “Die Hard” and other movies, but we were also greatly inspired from more strange sources like “The Lego Movie,” “Daredevil,” and the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” franchise.

MM: Typically, how do you decide which characters get into the game? For instance, who is the cute little blue "mountain man" character who is mixed in with the humanoid ones?

Petter Karlsson (PK): We try to create as many different characters as we can in each app so all kids feel as if they can find a representation of themselves, their friends, and their family.

We also try to get a good variety of skin tones, hair color, and hair types as well as a difference in functional variety. On top of that, every app includes a mix of adult characters, kids, babies, and many fantasy characters. By keeping these characters open-ended it allows the kids to create their own backstories around them.

MM: How long did it take to design this game overall and how does it fit into the larger "Toca Life" series?

WM: This is the eighth app in the Toca Life series. We designed it to give kids even more opportunities to engage with and role-play around everyday experiences. Adult lives are often a mystery to kids, so presenting them with “Toca Life: Office” allows them to take control and create stories around what they think goes on in an office all day, empowering them to be creative.

MM: What is your favorite aspect or element in the "Toca Office" edition?

WM: The tomato cannon and all the fish helmet super-hero outfits! Also, the slide in the daycare and nappy changing station. And, of course, the get-away helicopter!

PK: One clear favorite is the bank vault. We noticed early in kids test how much kids enjoyed solving the puzzle to get it open, filling it with all sorts of things and then emptying it in a quick snatch. I also really enjoy the fish helmet superhero. Especially when it is floating in the office aquarium.

Toca Life, games, and creative projects

MM: Is there any way for players to access all the Toca Games in the Toca Life series via one portal/app and, if not, is this something you are considering for the future?

WM: Currently this is not possible with the Toca Life series, though it is something we have been exploring and something kids frequently request. I can’t say much about our plans around this now, but we should have some exciting news in the near future.

MM: What is the best part of being a game designer and are you presently working on any interesting new additions to the Toca Life series?

WM: Working closely with kids and working on a product where you can continuously listen to the players and give them what they are asking for. Also, the whole overall vision and content design for the collection supporting kid’s everyday lives.

MM: How do you hope the Toca Boca brand will evolve over the next decade?

WM: We hope Toca Boca continues to be all about creating open-ended play experiences for kids. And that we will keep thinking from the kid’s perspective and develop the brand into other areas. We want Toca Boca to signal to kids this is something that was created for you. We have a lot of exciting projects lined up so stay tuned!