Toca Boca is an award-winning studio that makes apps for kids and they all start with Toca. Toca Doctor is one of my favourites. It is well-designed, has no in-app advertising and although the 18 mini-games are very simplistic, they provide a great starting point for conversation about the human body, injuries, basic first aid, doctors appointments and hospital visits.
It is a great app for all parents and children, but as the parent of a child who has complex needs, a long list of medical professionals, frequent appointments and lots of injuries, it has been even more helpful to make health related things fun and not scary.
Good to Know
£1.99 No in-app purchases. There is a “For Parents” button on the home screen that unlocks with a two finger swipe. It does not lead to advertising as I was expecting, but provides useful information and tips on how to use the game as an educational tool whilst playing with children. There is a Lite (free) version available as well to try out.
No adverts and Toca Boca has a strong policy against advertising and ads in apps.
2-6 years, but the simplistic puzzles are geared toward the lower end of the range.
Adult Annoyance Factor
Little annoyance factor particularly as it plays very well without any sound. It is a personal favourite to get out in public areas like restaurants and hospital waiting rooms.
Features and Accessibility
Design & Visual Accessibility
It is a beautiful cartoon style game and my three-year old loves the style. I have to reiterate that it is a minimalist and simplistic game and parents expecting an app that will independently entertain a child with complex activities will be disappointed, but it is the perfect design to use for conversations and questions that inevitable arise when playing with a child. The physiology is often beautifully metaphorical, like brains made of cogs, providing the opportunity for parents to explain that obviously, there aren’t cogs in our heads, but that’s what happens in our brains when we think, lots of different parts work together and is turning all the time.
It is visually accessible with no text, no flash or flicker, no colour coded solutions and parents or children that may have issues with brightness, get motion/simulation sickness or have a minor to moderate visual impairment should be able to enjoy the game. It is a visually based game so if in doubt, try the Lite version first.
Audio & Accessibility
There is no background music, but lovely special effects accompany the game. They are not integral to the game, just a bonus extra and as I have mentioned before, the game can be played without sound just as well as with sound. For children or their parents with auditory hypersensitivity or a hearing impairment, the game will play exactly as intended.
Input and Touch
It is a touch screen based game that uses simple touch commands, like tap, swipe, drag and tilt. If any of these is a problem, the mini-games use different input and can be skipped. Tilt in particular is difficult if a device is not being held and resting in a stand.
There are no timed events and no multi-gesture commands, but a moderate level of precision is needed to interact with game elements. Some are quite small, like the splinters, but others are much easier.
Ease of Use
Toca Doctor is easy to play and there is no requirement for literacy, numeracy, speech or complex organizational skills.
Toca Doctor is a simple and beautiful game made for adults to like and for children to love. It provides an excellent backdrop for education and is a lovely app to play together. I found it highly accessible and have used it on multiple occasions to answer questions and explain things like inoculations, teeth and sugar bugs, lungs and asthma, why do tummies hurt, how to use disinfect a scrape or cut, when to put on a plaster, what can be fixed at home and when do we need a doctor or a trip to hospital. My three-year old has used it to regale stories about that time she hurt her knee, the afternoon she needed a plaster, the day she had to go to hospital and why she doesn’t like when water goes in her ears.
It is an app that asks parents to engage with their children and it allowed me to add my own narrative that would make perfect sense to my three year old as we played together. Highly recommended.