As children grow up immersed in a world of technology, it’s no surprise that they would start learning how to develop their own software and games at some point. There is already a long list of apps created by kids, most of which are very successful and others that went viral and launched their young creators into the techie stratosphere as prodigal programmers.
Want to see some apps created by kids? Check out the app store on your phone. There are games like Bubble Ball, which was created by 14 year old Robert Nay. The point of the game is to move a small blue ball into the checkered flag at the end of each level by using gravity and different movements available in the game. It sounds simple, but the difficulty progresses throughout the game, making the challenge addictive. At one point, this game even surpassed Angry Birds in the iOS store.
There’s also Wild Ski, a game created by 13 year old twin sisters, Isabella and Sofia Mandich. In this games, animals ski down slopes as the player guides their characters to avoid obstacles. The game became immensely popular, prompting the girls to start their own company, Twin Rocks Media, and they are currently working on building their next app.
If you are really looking to get inspired, check out the story for Michael Syaman, and 17 year old from Florida that created the viral app sensation 4Snap when he was just 15 years old. 4Snap is a multi-user game where players try to get their friends to guess words like “Dance” or “toothbrush” by sending them 4 pictures snapped with their phone. It sounds simple, but the process of creating this hugely successful app definitely had some obstacles.
Michael started developing apps in 2010 at age 13, beginning with an app tool to help drive traffic to a reference website he created that gave tips on his favourite game, Disney’s Club Penguin. He had some good interaction on his site, but he believed that building an app would help drive more traffic. He taught himself to code for the iOS app program by using tutorials from Google. “My school doesn’t offer computer classes, so that’s what I had to do,” said Michael.
He saw massive success with his first app, making it to the top 10 most downloaded apps within weeks of its creation. This inspired him to branch out and create some of his own games, rather just referencing ones he enjoyed. At first, the response was dismal – without the branding of the widely popular Disney game and with the ever growing app market, his self-made games made very little in the app store. He tried to find an idea that would be a breakout hit and was inspired by his sister, who was fooling around one day by sending pictures to her friends and trying to make them guess different words. Hence, 4Snaps was born.
In the beginning, Michael still faced some marketing hurdles; but, through perseverance, inspiration (and oh yeah, Instagram), he was able to make connections with larger companies that helped him promote his app and raise in the ranks.
His app helped him make enough money to pay to mortgage on his parents’ home during the recession and even caught the attention of Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. Zuckerberg saw the potential in Michael and had him speak at the annual f8 developer conference. Michael was also offered a paid Internship at Facebook for over the summer.
It’s been a whirlwind in the two years since the app was created, and as it continues to grow, so does Michael’s skills and reputation as a tech prodigy. Yet even with his success, Michael remains humble and inspired. As he said, “It’s just a stupid app. But the fact that I created something out of nothing and changed someone’s life in a stupid insignificant way is the best feeling ever.”
Think your child could develop the next big app? Hatch can help set them up for success by providing them the foundation skill set for coding. If you’re interested in joining the program, take a trial class today!