Professional / Team of 2
2017.09 - 2017.11 (6 Weeks)
Big screen interactive game for kids
In this project, we were asked to design a Halloween interactive game for the Kid’s Palace of Wanda Group Co., applying the technology of motion sensing. The end goal of this design was to appeal more kids and improve customer loyalty. Our site locates in Tongzhou Wanda Shopping Mall, Beijing.
01 PRIMARY RESEARCH
Our target users are the kids in the game center. Based on our survey, nearly half of them are preschool kids from age 5 to 6, kids older than 6 or younger than 3 is relatively rare, almost no kids there are older than 10. So basically, our target users are kids from age 3 to age 6.
We randomly interviewed 10 kids (along with their parents). We found that most of them had heard about Halloween and their impressions about this holiday focus on elements like ghost, pumpkin and candy. Even though they have quite a few computer games experience, they were not familiar with big-screen interactive games. So, it was our priority to make clear how they can interact with the game.
Besides users research, we completed a throughout research about the using site, including its condition and the current games in there.
Characteristics of Kids’ Palace
1. Massive customer flow volume
2. Limited time of experience for each person
Solution of the game
1. Operate continually, allow users to take part in any time. 2. A few kids can play together, enjoy the fruit of teamwork.
Literature review and analysis
We analysis user features, behavior and other aspects that influence our design. Eventually, based on user research, we generated several fundamental principles for our game.
02 SECONDARY RESEARCH
Competitive analysis (Current popular games on the site)
These popular games share some common traits:
1. Easy to play
2. Apply the most familiar movements of kids
3. Clear, appealing and immediate feedback
4. Duration is about two mins (digital games)
So, in our game, we adopted the basic movement like hit and touch, making the feedback mechanism instant and appealing. We also thought about making the game period periodically with a duration of about two mins.
Based on user research, we generated several basic principles for our interaction game:
1. The game should be easy and comprehensible for kids.
2. It’s better to make it a multi-player game, allowing kids to try to work and learn together.
3. It won’t challenge kids’ physical skills, like balance.
4. It has clear feedback, preventing the kids from being frustrated.
5. It should allow deviation since kids’ movement may not be that precise.
6. It should use visual elements that kids are familiar with.
7. It can match kids’ curiosity.
The old-fashion pressing mode is neither appealing nor useful for kids anymore. To adjust children’s characteristics and behavior, motion sensing is a suitable choice. Kids can see that the screen can react along with their movement. So we chose Kinect as our medium for interaction, allowing 4 to 6 players to enjoy the game together. In addition, to create a better visual experience, we applied glasses-free 3D for the feedbacks in the game.
Our game is designed to be continuing, so start module and play module are the core parts. But since the game will be placed in a public space, we cannot allow any single user to play forever. Even if it doesn’t have a “game over” part, we must make users aware of they’ve played enough. So, we created a special animation which had a “big boss,”coming out when a certain amount of monsters were killed.
We selected visual elements kids that are familiar with kids, like monsters and pumpkins. And we built the scene in dark woods, creating a dark Halloween atmosphere. The style of the interface was cute and a little bit scary.
The feedback mechanism is crucial for user experience. There were three levels of feedback in our game. For the third level, staged feedback, we came up with various ideas and run tests on each of them.
Usability test and iteration
After several tests, we modified a few problems, like the frequency of occurrence for monsters, the maximum number of monsters on the screen, the trigger mechanism of special feedback, etc. We also added 3D effect for the monsters’ animation, and each of the monsters will rush out before disappearing so that the kids could have more immersive experience with a scarier atmosphere.
Unluckily, on Halloween day, we encountered a technical failure of the screen. So we changed the 3.2m*1.8m big screen to 1m*0.6m screen and modified the size of monsters to adjust the screen. The user experience was a bit different then. But still, more than 300 kids took part in the game, and they enjoyed it. I interviewed some of them and gathered their opinions on the game. They said they liked the game for its appealing animation and feedback, as well as the unique opportunity to interact with the screen. We also found that our interface was a bit dark when comparing it to natural light. It was a little uncomfortable for the kids.
05 SUMMARY AND INTROSPECTION
In this project, I got the chance to apply my design thinking to real-world problem. I’ve learned several lessons during the process. First off, in the user research process, I found it hard to survey or interview our target user because little kids are too young to talk clearly about their feelings, etc. So what I did was to observe kids behavior in the Kid’s Palace for days, learned about what kind of games they like, their emotional changes while playing. The observing process was interesting and fruitful. Besides, I also interviewed several parents and owner of the palace, organizing focus group with my colleagues. I’ve learned that never assume myself as the target user and try a different approach to accomplish user research. In addition, I learned to consider the limitation of technology in my design. At first, we came up with ideas such as making a “Pumpkin Ninja” game, but Kinect sensor cannot accurately detect the cutting gesture. Gestures such as waving hands and hitting are more detectable for Kinect. And since Kinect can only detect 4 to 6 person, we have to let the users know whether they are recognized or not. Therefore, we employed image matting technique to cut out the players’ image and reflect them on the screen.
If we had more time, we would have analysis more competitive products and thought more about how to match kids’ curiosity in the game.