Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Penny the Penguin

Difficulty: 0

(whimsical piano music)

I am Maria Devereux.

I am a designer by trade.

A lot of the work I do is tech-based.

I think I've made five apps in the last year.

So Penny the Penguin is a story about a penguin

who's shipwrecked off the coast of New Zealand

and her boat needs to be fixed.

She has to go around the island

talking to different characters.

Each character has something she either needs or wants,

and she has to trade a star for the thing she needs

to fix her boat.

So the child is rewarded by seeing their boat fixed,

and then able to sail away again, so it's quite cute.

When we're working with BNZ,

we realised that we need to teach children,

like, little kids, the difference

between their needs and their wants.

That's quite hard, a hard concept for kids to understand.

You might need clothes, but you want a toy.

So the game, in this instance,

taught them a really important life skill,

giving them the chance to learn by play.

This is kind of an insight into our workings,

like some of the initial ideas we saw,

and we're starting to build out the different characters,

what they might look like, and what their stories might be.

This is sort of a dream project,

in the sense of creating a world and a character.

It had to feel like it was hand painted,

and it felt tactile, it didn't want to feel too digital

in the way it was gonna come across.

And it feels like a storybook,

even though you're looking at it on a screen.

Very surreal, very fantastical,

and then have this little injection of New Zealand

into there as well.

One of the first things we had to do

was design Penny the Penguin,

so we looked at all the different shapes,

of a Blue Penguin, or a Kororā,

and we had to decide how much she looked like a Kororā

or how much she just looked cute.

I think we landed somewhere in the middle.

You can see down at the bottom,

this is kind of where we landed up.

One of the things I loved the most was the characters.

So I really liked Kara the Kunekune pig.

She dreams of flying, soaring through the skies,

and it was this whole play of pigs wanting to fly,

and so in the game she's building kites

to sort of somehow, some way,

take off and soar through the air.

And she had lived in a really magical little house

on the edge of the cliff,

and I think that was, for me,

one of the most fun parts of the project,

because every character lived in this magical world,

and you got to create five different really magical worlds

that were sometimes quite quirky.

We worked with the Auckland Kindergarten Association

to get their help creating the app,

and making sure that kids would find it interesting,

and find it engaging.

You could tell they really enjoyed the story,

and they really enjoyed the characters,

and seeing my own son play with it,

and he still plays with it, was really cool.

He was quite useful, actually.

He's pretty blunt so he would tell me

if it was right or wrong. (laughs)

And, so it's just really lovely

to see the kids really get into it and really love it.

That's always motivating, getting that really good feedback.

(playful music)

The Description of Penny the Penguin