Behind the Scenes: Sanalanka Friends – A casual mobile game with values

Did you know that the reason we established our studio was to work on a serious games concept for speech and language therapy? MiTale started with a passion for helping children and their parents who struggle with communication. Statistics show that 7-19% of children have a developmental language disorder and require speech and language therapy at some point in their life. Efficient speech and language therapy enhances their quality of life and diminishes the risks that individuals with language disorders are exposed to. Furthermore, there is lack of therapists to supply the demand in rural areas and with increasing numbers of immigrant children and refugees it creates a need for additional ways to support the therapists in their workload – therefore our team wanted to develop series of gamified solutions under the brand Sanalanka™, as tailored speech therapy and language learning tools to meet the specific needs of the therapists. This mission has evolved into a much bigger opportunity which we were not aware of at the time, but decided to pursue further.

Through our Sanalanka-projects we wish to create a safe learning environment that provides a solid foundation for developing social and emotional skills through engaging and interactive content. The main objective of these projects is to boost awareness and best practices regarding the preservation of nature and forest conservation, as it is one of the most important aspects of Finnish identity and heritage. Our gamification design uniquely bridges interdisciplinary practices to spark conversations surrounding climate change, storytelling, and innovative technology. Today we wish to give you insight into one of these products, a casual mobile game with values – Sanalanka Friends.

We wanted to explore the possibility of combining top-charted game mechanics with educational content. This is actually a difficult design challenge, as one aims to provide a learning platform through emotional engagement, not just giving facts and demanding answers from the player in order to progress, which is what most educational games on the market do. Our approach was to find game mechanics that ease the bond with the player and encourage curiosity, as the best learning results come through individually achieved discoveries. Based on this, we have decided to create a virtual pet game, in which player not only take care of their friend by feeding and cleaning him or her, but also by making sure that the character receives enough activities, learns new skills and explores the wonders of the planet we call home.

In the very first version of the game, we have tested the concept and the soft-launch gave us really good results, proving that we might be on the right track. Since the soft-launch that took place in 2019, we have continued developing the game further with new environments, new tasks and quests, adding several more characters that player can unlock, and we have built the basis for live ops, which we believe will be the key to long-term player engagement. We are getting ready for the global launch this year, and will share more news in the upcoming months! As a sneak peek, meet Benny the fox, the latest addition to Sanalanka Friends!

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