Noodles Now, by Golden Monkey Media, is an arcade-style, family-friendly track-runner. It was featured in Jr. Scholastic Magazine after it introduced a character based on 12-year-old Madeline “Maddie” Messer, who created a stir with a research project.
Maddie’s opinion piece in the Washington Post, titled “I’m a 12-year-old girl. Why don’t the characters in my apps look like me?” detailed her project and her frustrations. She downloaded (with her parent’s permission) the top 50 Endless Running Games in the iTunes Store and did a breakdown of female vs. male protagonists.
“…18 percent had characters whose gender was not identifiable (i.e., potatoes, cats or monkeys). Of the apps that did have gender-identifiable characters, 98 percent offered boy characters. What shocked me was that only 46 percent offered girl characters. Even worse, of these 50 apps, 90 percent offered boy characters for free, while only 15 percent offered girl characters for free. Considering that the players of Temple Run, which has been downloaded more than one billion times, are 60 percent female, this system seems ridiculous…I found that when an app did sell girl characters, it charged on average $7.53, which is a lot in the world of apps. After all, each of the apps I downloaded only cost an average of $0.26. In other words, girl characters cost about 29 times more than the cost of the apps themselves.”
Maddie’s piece went viral. Then Golden Monkey Media’s founder, Sean Henry, contacted her and her parents to ask if she would be interested in becoming a character in Noodles Now. The avatar is based on her appearance, and she also recorded her own voice-over. “It’s so fun playing as ‘me’ in Noodles Now. It’s really cool to be delivering noodles on a flying scooter,” says Maddie.
Sean Henry explains: “It was a real pleasure to get Maddie’s character into our game. She’s a terrific role model for young people everywhere.” Noodles Now takes place in the future—there are flying cars that Fly (Maddie’s character) must avoid on her mission to deliver noodles all over the city.
As part of a Jr. Scholastic’s back-to-school promotion, Noodles Now (and all its in-game purchases) will be free from September 1 to September 10. After that the app will cost $1.99.