Once upon a time...
Caper CEO Ben Geliher was struggling to get his 4 year old daughter to do all the things she needed to do to get out of the house - go to the toilet, get some socks and shoes on and so forth. She was getting distracted, wandering off and losing focus. After hours of pointless negotiation, Ben mused that:
It would be amazing if I could just get Elsa from Frozen to call her on my phone and ask her to do these things.
Unfortunately, without a current number for the icy Queen of Arendelle, Ben instead made up a story about a spaceship crash-landing in a nearby park, and asked his daughter to help him find it. Suddenly his daughter couldn't wait to get out of the door!
Noticing the power of story to transform a parenting challenge into a joyful experience, Ben started developing Caper as a tool to help parents play with their children, even when everyone is low on energy and out of ideas, and when the kids would rather be sedentary indoors, watching the TV or playing video games!
We’re a few weeks into the school holidays now! In fact, I fear we’re fast approaching that all too common boredom threshold. You know, when the kids have ticked off most of the activities on their summer agenda’s, and the excitement to find new things to do is being trumped by the lure of staying inside to play on their Nintendo Switch for eight hours straight.
If you’ve found yourself begging the kids to get outdoors in the past few weeks, or you have younger children and are struggling to plan activities for your next day out - you absolutely need to be in the know about Caper! As a play inspiration app designed to help families get active and have fun together, Caper harnesses all the good aspects of technology to enhance quality family time by providing an innovative approach to outdoor play for children aged 4-8 years old.
All of Caper’s adventures begin with a ‘video call’ from a character within the game; such as Captain Redtail (a space-explorer) or Holly Goodspell (a friendly witch). These in-app play companions are usually on the lookout for families who can help them with tasks and outdoor activities. Harnessing technology as a catalyst for real-world play, rather than encouraging addictive screentime found in many games, each Caper adventure is an episodic, interactive story that encourages users to explore the outdoors. These ‘capers’ engage players in physical activity and learning opportunities based in nature that have been designed to boost oxytocin (the feel-good bonding hormone), creating a more well-rounded alternative to tech-based entertainment for children.
Here’s how it works:
It all starts with an incoming phone call from one of Caper’s many otherworldly digitally rendered play companions.
At the beginning of each adventure, a task is set - this could be a nature-based craft, a scavenger hunt or a physical challenge.
As part of the storyline, there is usually a challenge the digital character has to overcome within the Caper world that can only be solved by the family’s actions in the real world.
With each episode, the real world adventure develops alongside the in-app storyline, encouraging a team-building outdoor or indoor crafting activity designed to be completed by parent and child.
Each episode is formatted with a series of detailed, easy-to-follow click-through instructions.
Capers can be played again and again in different locations (including indoors), and come in different lengths and with different themes. There are even daily challenges to solve for those moments when parents need a quick, fun play idea.
Caper has been designed to re-shape how children use technological devices in a way that is accessible and affordable to all. Caper’s small team of independent developers are realistic about the future of play in a technological world, and are committed to the idea that we can use screens in a positive, healthy way. Nature deficit disorder (a lack of time spent outdoors), increasing mental health challenges and a lack of exercise are some of the most pressing issues facing children today, and Caper aims to be a thoughtful response to the health crisis caused by sedentary lifestyles.
The positive benefits of quality family time and outdoor play drives the founding team's ambition to keep developing Caper and get more families active and playing together. Caper is available for iOS and Android and is currently available for free! It’s a great thing to have on hand during school holidays, weekends and any time you want to play with the kids and need some fresh inspiration!
The Caper Team
Ben Geliher - CEO
Ben has spent his career building companies and making digital entertainment for kids. From the stealth education of Moshi Monsters to the emotional learning of If You Can, Ben has always focused on making products that he hopes make a positive social impact. Ben has two young daughters who are the inspiration for Caper. He does all the programming for Caper as well as being our CEO.
Graham Denney - Chief Creative Officer
Graham is a veteran of the games and entertainment industry, having worked on projects for Nintendo, Sony and the BBC before getting involved in independent ventures. He also writes and illustrates stories for kids. Graham creates all the characters and writes the scripts for Caper.
Sara Perkins - Chief Marketing Officer
Sara has over 20 years experience of marketing for some of the world’s most loved brands including Disney, HarperCollins, Mills & Boon, and education company Pearson. She was an early team member at Rocket Network, a music start-up sold to Avid in 2002. Sara takes care of all the marketing and community building for Caper. She is also mum to two daughters.
Why should parents use Caper rather than just turfing the kids outside to get on with playing?
At Caper, we know that the socio-emotional benefits of connecting with your children through play is essential to their development. It’s true that all children benefit from unstructured playtime with other children, and playing independently also comes with its own benefits.
However, there are added benefits for children that come from playing with parents and other caring adults including: increased memory acquisition, improved gross motor skills, building confidence and cognitive flexibility, as well as improvements in a child's mental health and overall happiness.
Thus, the concept behind this app was borne out of an understanding of the limitations parents face when it comes to spending quality time with their children apart from the hustle and bustle of school runs, homework-doing and dinner-making. We believe parents can benefit greatly from incorporating Caper into not only their children's lives, but into their own lives, with the app having been carefully designed to encourage that building of deeper family bonds, within the wider scope of establishing a connection with nature, learning through play and creating meaningful experiences that become lasting memories.
Caper was built to facilitate parental play, so essentially you won't be using the app to its fullest potential if you simply hand your child a device and encourage them to play independently or with their age-mates; the adults have to get involved for it to work!
Don’t just take my word for it, try your first Caper for free today - here!
If you would like even more outdoor play ideas then click here to buy your copy of Outdoor Play.