A children’s mobile app featuring footballing monkeys is the latest offering from one of the rising stars of the Tees Valley’s digital cluster.
SockMonkey Studios, which was founded by two Teesside University graduates, has just released SockaMonkeys, a mobile game for youngsters aged from three to eight.
Players get a virtual pet monkey which they can dress up in the team colours of their choice.
The app, which has been released on iOS and Android platforms, comes with six different footballing games where players can test their monkey’s soccer skills in areas such as penalty shootouts and keepy-ups.
Bob Makin, Managing Director of SockMonkey, said inspiration for the game came from seeing bored children with their parents at football matches.
He said: “We spoke with a few football clubs who said that young children were often coming to games but after a little while getting bored.
“This game could help keep their attention and stimulate an interest in football while at the same time preventing them from getting too restless at the match.”
Gateshead-based Arcus Animation helped with art and character design for SockaMonkeys.
SockaMonkeys is initially free to download with a limited number of games. Players can pay to unlock more games.
SockMonkey is investigating ways in which players can pay for additional items for their monkeys such as their favourite team’s branded football strips, and discussions are underway with professional teams to explore this option.
A special update is also being launched soon to coincide with Euro 2016.
Bob and co-founder Darren Cuthbert left their jobs at a large games studio to set up SockMonkey in 2013 with the help of a DigitalCity Fellowship from Teesside University.
Their first app, Wurdy, a word guessing game, was featured by Apple in 147 countries and reached the number one spot in two countries. Other work has followed and they have collaborated with several other studios on mobile apps.
The company is now based in the Phoenix Building at Teesside University and employs five people.
Bob added: “We’re doing a lot of contract work for other companies and have recently been doing some work for one of the world’s biggest entertainment companies.
“However, we’re also investing in our own IP and it’s great that we’ve been able to release SockaMonkeys under our own label.”
The DigitalCity Fellowship scheme supports entrepreneurs to develop their digital business product or idea. As well as support with living expenses, Fellows also get industry-specific mentoring and coaching along with access to facilities and equipment at the University.