Brian R. Smith

Writing stories about færies and demons 

Brian R. Smith

Mastery Journal


Full Sail University mobile gaming master's

Game Review: Toca Band (Toca Boca, 2012)

Genre:             Games, toy

Roll in industry: Casual

Target Demographic: 2+

Monetization: Purchased app


Is Toca Band a game, or a digital toy?



Borrowing from The Art of Game Design (Schell, 2019) chapter four “The Experience Rises Out of a Game,” the author gives us two definitions:


  1. “A toy is an object you play with.”
  2. “A game is a problem-solving activity, approached with a playful attitude.”


Let’s accept these definitions and apply them against Toca Band (Toca Boca, 2012) – an app that allows you to mix and match funny characters and sounds to create music. I will assign isGame (borrowed from the Java programming style for Boolean variables) points to each of the ten game qualities as defined by (Schell, 2019). A positive 100 points shall be given if Toca Band completely satisfies the game quality. A negative 100 points, if it completely misses.



Final score: -200. So, the Toca Band is more of a digital toy than game. But, this assessment should not diminish its value as a mobile app.


Looking at the purchase-only monetization strategy, it makes sense that a game geared for ages 2+ would not have any advertising and in-game purchases. In fact, Toca Boca promotes this as a positive feature to help protect your child.


Personally, I do not like the recent trend where parents pacify their infants with digital devices. According to Healthy Children, 

“Regardless of content, cap your child's electronic entertainment time at 1 hour a day from age 18 months to age five” (Hill, 2016). 

Even if these are quality apps, such as Toca Band, I think 1 hour a day is too much for a young brain.


Hill, D. L. (2016). Why to Avoid TV for Infants & Toddlers. Retrieved from Healthy Children:


Toca Boca. (2012). Having fun with Toca Band! Retrieved from Youtube: