Young Jamaican Animator Launches Arcade-Style Game App

A young animator, 24-year-old Stephen ‘Big Bomb’ Williamson, recently launched his  arcade-style game app called TapKat Fiesta.

Williamson is the director of Jamaica-based Island Interactive Studios, which is trading as Pandsoft. He launched the app in May.

As cellphone users turn to their mobile devices for entertainment, games such as Flappy Bird, Fruit Ninja and Temple Run are becoming more popular.

Williamson hopes TapKat Fiesta will also attract the huge number of players these successful games have managed to garner.

TapKat is very simple and allows the player the tap the screen to shoot healing balls at mutated birds.

“You have to watch out for bomb birds that explode on impact and also make enough shots before you run out of fuel,” Williamson told the Jamaica Observer about his game. “It offers classic arcade game-play that mixes elements from Duck Hunt, Fruit Ninja and Sonic.”

Williamson was experienced in the realm of animation and producing digital content, so he knew how to create and market the game.

“Given our background in animation and how attractive the market was, we had already been producing content for marketing companies which represent various major brands, so producing digital content for a global market wasn’t such a great challenge,” he said.

However, he is aware that there are harder challenges ahead. While introducing the game to the market was easy, standing out among a sea of video game apps is difficult.

The success of games like Flappy Bird is rare and the creator of the extremely simple game manages to pull in $50,000 a day.

“An effective growth strategy has to be carefully planned and executed or else the game will just be another game in the app store,” he said.

As of today, TapKat has earned high reviews but has only drawn about 50 downloads in the Google Play market on Android.

While users said they loved the simple game play, some suggested a tutorial to give clearer instructions.

For now, users have to “learn as you go,” but the simplicity of the game allows them to catch on quickly.

If the game attracts more attention, Williamson is prepared to move forward and make his next move quickly.

“If it manages to do well on its own, that success will be short-lived so marketing decisions for successful games are considered before the game is started and continue to influence the design and growth process when the game is launched,” he said. “We plan to grow naturally, like that of a well-nurtured tree seeking sunlight in a forest.”

Georgia Teens Respond to Events in Ferguson by Creating App to Rate Police

Three teen siblings from Decatur, Georgia, are using technology to make a difference in the fight for justice against police brutality, racial profiling and other issues that have created a divide between police and the communities they serve.

As the world watches Ferguson, Missouri, closely, many people have reprimanded the police forces for the way they have handled the Mike Brown shooting case and events that followed. Unarmed Brown, 18, was shot and killed Aug. 9 by a police officer. In reaction to the teen’s death, protests were held.

President Barack Obama also expressed his disappointment in the force, saying that there is “no excuse” for Ferguson police to use excessive force against peaceful protesters.

While it seems a large number of people are upset with the police’s behavior and military-like tactics, one teen acknowledged that not all police forces are duplicates of the one in Ferguson.

Good cops still exist.

So 14-year-old Caleb Christian of Parkview High School teamed up with his older sisters, Parkview High School senior Ima Christian, 16, and Gwinnett School of Music and Technology sophomore Asha Christian, 15, to create an app that puts more power into the hands of those the police are supposed to serve.

Caleb called the app “Five-O,” which he said was inspired by the television show, according to Forbes.

The Pinetart website Caleb made to market his app explained that the young teen was “concerned about the number of incidents of police abuse in the news” but also knew that “there were many good police officers in various communities.”

The issue, the website explained, was that people “had no way of figuring out which communities were highly rated and which were not.”

That’s where Five-O comes in.

The app uses a Yelp-like rating system and allows citizens to upload reviews and add ratings of the police in their area.

App users can fill out full incident reports and hand out grades to police officers and police departments in their area.

The app is also more than just a space for reviews.

Other features allow users to locate their local police stations, look up their rights, check other citizen reviews and even organize their community in the event they want to come together for the sake of a peaceful demonstration or other community effort.

The Google Play page for the app also reveals that this is a Beta version of the app so users should expect to hit a few kinks and bugs. In the event they do, the app also features a handy feedback button that will help Caleb use consumer reports to fine-tune and improve the app.

As with most apps that use a Yelp-like rating system, however, it is important for app users to take the ratings and feedback with a grain of salt.

There is no system in place to confirm the accuracy of reports, and many people feel more inclined to report bad experiences than good ones when it comes to writing out a review online.

The app was created Monday and has already garnered somewhere between 100 and 500 installs.

The Google Play page says the app is compatible with all devices.