When I was growing up, tattooing was just starting to gain mainstream recognition and the only way to see this wild world was to tune in to "Miami Ink" on TLC. However, today's kids have everything at their finger tips and can get a taste of tattooing at a much younger age. There are a number of tattoo apps geared toward children out there and by far, the most popular is Ink Inc. As of January 2020, this app has over 10 million downloads and is currently sitting at number 33 on the App Store's casual subcategory.
Here's how it works. When you enter the app, you're brought to a mock tattoo studio complete with a chair, ink bottles and some cute flash on the walls. When you hit start, a client walks in and sits in your chair for their appointment. You're presented with their design and are then tasked with created the tattoo. This is when things get interesting.
The app gives you a stencil and you have the choice of lining or filling in the design. There are two different lining options and let me tell you, both are tricky to get the hang of. But, there's a hack. If you try lining the piece with your finger, good luck getting your design to come out even half decent. But, if you select fill, you can hold down the machine (which comes with a nifty buzzing sound and vibrating sensation) for a few seconds in the middle of the tattoo, it will fill itself in perfectly.
As your going, the client will react to your tattoo skills with hearts or frown-y faces, but don't worry, if you mess up, there's a reset button. If only that were possible in the real world. Also, if you put the wrong color in your tattoo, no problem, because you can just draw over it with the correct shade and the client will never know. Once you've finished your masterpiece, you hit the "Done" button and the app rates your work from a scale of good to perfect. The app then pays you for your work depending on your score and like a real shop, you need to pay your dues back to the owner after each piece. And this app takes over fifty percent of your hard earned dough!
As you progress and earn money by creating tattoos, the app allows you to make purchases to update your shop. This includes adding new flash to the walls and updating your machine. The machine you're given at the start of the game is called "The Noob," and as I'm writing this, there are several options available for purchase, including "Mermaid," "Unicorn" and "Hot Rod." Sadly, all of these machines are coil but maybe, if there's enough inquiries, the app will release some rotaries for those who aren't loyal to the coil.
The app does a good job of capturing the different customers a tattoo shop attracts, from the big and burly biker type to straight laced business women to hipsters. What they could improve on is creating more advanced levels for older players, as this game is marketed at 12+ but clearly targets a much lower demographic. Imagine if they put in some realism or even a trendy micro portrait? Now that's more our speed.
While the editors of Inked were primarily the ones testing out the game, we did let some of the artists at Inked NYC give the app a spin. And despite only doing marginally better than our writers, they were able to see why children would flock to the game. One of the tattooers, Erigels Vogli said "My kid would love this," which is all the creators of Ink Inc could ask for.
What do you think of tattoo apps for kids? Are you thinking of giving Ink Inc a try? Let us know on social media.