What’s your Poptropica website all about?
It lets kids create an avatar and go on quests and engage in interactive adventures. Poptropica Worlds is a step forward in terms of technology and design. Kids can explore different genres of stories, such as mystery or horror, and engage in challenges.
How do you make sure it’s safe for children to use?
While kids can play against each other, they can’t expose personally identifiable information. There’s an enormous responsibility to keep kids safe even if it means companies need to limit the activities they offer.
At what age should kids be allowed to use social media?
The minimum age in most countries is 13 but kids find a way to circumvent that. Even beyond age 13, it’s important parents make sure their children aren’t being bullied and are using social media appropriately.
What did you play when you were a kid?
I grew up in the 1970s and 80s and was an arcade addict — Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. Then I got an Atari 2600 (below), all the Nintendo systems. My all-time favourite is Ultima IV, which absorbed about a year of my life. Twenty years ago I decided, ‘You’re either a creator or a consumer’ — games were taking up too much of my time so now I design them rather than play them.
What is the future of games design?
The next step is virtual reality but it’s hard for me to imagine that will be a mainstream experience. Gaming is inherently social and wrapping your head in a device (below) is antisocial. So I think the future will be a combination of mobile and social.
E-readers aren’t as popular as they were…
I’m not surprised they haven’t caught on with kids. If kids have to choose between reading a book on screen or playing a game, the game will win out — but when you give them a physical book they connect with the words and pictures. My favourite medium to read is still print magazines.
The Wimpy Kid films are very successful. Are on-demand film services killing off the cinema?
I’m not sure cinemas are going anywhere. They’re at the start of the entertainment cycle. There’s still that pecking order.
What’s been your most disappointing tech purchase?
The Nintendo Power Glove (below). It was supposed to enable you to control things on screen in the game. The reality wasn’t so good.
What’s on your tech wish list?
My iPad Pro (above) has become essential — I can do my cartoons on it with the Apple pencil. I want to try devices that let you draw on paper while capturing the drawings digitally but I haven’t found any I like.
Poptropica Worlds is available now on iOS, Android and web