Samuel Baird
Games and Learning Portfolio

Our Special Island

Client Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
In partnership with Second Muse
Role Lead development, game design
Technology C#, OpenGL, PHP, Flash animation pipeline
App Store
Google Play

Designed as part of an educational pilot program for young children in Tonga, Our Special Island is a play-based app that celebrates Tonga's local foods and traditional dishes, to encourage healthy eating. Our Special Island embraces the importance of play for learning, multimodal engagement through visuals, sound and touch, and the power of popular culture in children's lives.

Set in Tonga, players grow, collect and catch fresh local ingredients before heading to the kitchen to make delicious healthy meals for two in-app friends - Kelela and Pulotu. In the kitchen, children role-play a master chef as they chop, grate, mix, pour, shake, boil and bake ingredients before sharing their finished creations.

With the inital concept proposed during an in-country visit, we returned to Tonga to host a design workshop with representatives from DFAT, Tonga Health, various government ministries and agricultural business people. We continued to learn how best to include cultural aspects of Tongan life in the program, to ensure the concept we presented resonated appropriately with Tongan children, parents and officials, while remaining curriculum-aligned and hitting key learning outcomes.

The app was trialed in schools, with usage data tracked and included in an evaluation of the app and supporting materials. The evaluation found a marked improvement in students knowledge and appreciation of healthy foods after engaging with the program.