Play Centric Design
The play-centric design method is an iterative design method that puts the players at the middle of the development and design process. The process begins with good understanding of the players and context. By understanding the context of the players the designer will be able to design meaningful games for the end users (Fullerton, 2008).
The main reason why it is important to apply play-centric design approach is that it enables the designer to involve the players in the designed process right from the conception phases to the completion phases.
The components of play-centric design approach are; setting player experience goals, prototyping, play testing and iteration (Fullerton, 2008, p. 31).
Play-testing should be seen as distinct from both usability testing and quality assurance. It is carried out to understand whether the game achieves your player experience goal. The main aim of play testing is to gain useful feedback from the player. There are various ways to carry out play testing. Some of the ways are qualitative and informal, and structured and quantitative. The designed process, that was made use of is qualitative and informal ways of play testing. The reason why qualitative and informal play testing was used is to understand the player’s experience in the game and to generate ideas for improvement of the prototype.
Before recruiting the first play tester, the designer makes sure he tested himself first. During the design of the first prototype, the designer repeatedly tested the design on his own to determine if the prototype were ready to be tested by someone else.
When the designer was confident that the physical prototype was ready to be tested by someone else, then the designer decided to test with close friends, and some family member to get an insight into the game. After that, the designer proceeded to play test with people from its target audience. The reason while the designer decided to carry out the test this way is to prevent biases in the test result.
Furthermore, the play testing methods that were made use of during the testing session are one-on-one testing, interviews and open discussion. The facilitator was taking note during the entire play testing session. During one-on-one testing, the facilitator sits down with the participant and watch over behind the player or on a one-way glass as the player plays the game, the facilitator takes note and asks questions after the session.
Conceptualization stages of the design solution
The conceptualization stage is the first step of the design process (Fullerton, 2008, p. 169). During this stage the designer developed multiple ideas for game design that potentially could counter the effect of “echo c hamber” and “filter bubbles” on a social network site. The goal was to allow people with conflicting opinions and ideas to still listen to each other’s points of view, and understand the arguments from another perspective. The goal was thus not really to make people actively change their mind; only to give themselves time to study alternative approaches.
Together with the supervisor, brainstorming sessions were done where we discussed various ideas for games to be created. The brainstorming session started by defining the state of the challenge. We sat down and discussed possibilities of designing a game that provides the players with an alternative point of view on a given topic. During the idea generation stage we came up with some ideas, for example we came up with link sharing game. The idea of this game is that various people will share links about different topics and the players in the game will rate the link with either true or not true. At the end the ideas were discarded because it will not be interesting to just share links with one another without having any form of motivation on the game. Also the possibility of creating a game out of links sharing is low.
Another potential idea that was discussed during the idea generation stage was designing a game that display someone else search result alongside with the users search result. The idea was discarded because there is a similar design solution already designed by someone. Furthermore, the possibility of visualization game ideas was discussed. The visualization game idea works by creating a visualization of different bubbles that the users can manipulate to counter the effect of filter bubble. The idea was discarded because such design solutions have already been created. The brainstorming session lasted for about 60 minutes or so. At the end an initial design idea came up on creating a game out of a spinning wheel. The initial design idea was that it will be in a form of a spin wheel game that participant can enter their answers to the question of the day and spin the wheel to get other people answers. The participants have the choice to rate the answer gotten from the wheel either with “agree” or “disagree”. The game will b e integrated into a social network site like for example “Facebook”.
Users Study and Changes Needed
Prototyping is the creation of a working model of an idea that allows designers to test with the end users of a product to get feedback on possible improvement on it (Fullerton, 2008, p. 196).
The different type of prototyping method is; software prototype, video prototype, visual prototype and physical prototypes. Also, the most important thing to remember is that prototyping is not the final design. It is simply trying out one’s design ideas to find out on what is working and what is not working.
The prototyping method that was made used of during this thesis is called physical prototype. The advantage of physical prototyping is that it focuses on mainly the game play rather than technology and also it is easier to iterate design on paper compare to software prototyping. This allowed the core game play mechanism to be tested on the design with players without placing focus on the look and feel of the prototype or the mechanisms of implementation.
The first physical prototypes were created with some household’s object such as post-note, cable paper, pen and paper, hand drawing and scissors. Dice were used to simulate the random effect of the spinning wheel. The images are as followed.
Second design sketch (Second Iteration)
The design was changed in the second design sketch due to the feedback that was received from the first iteration/testing. The changes are as followed.
· Improving the prototype of the game: In the second design sketch the design was changed to improve the prototype by making it more visually appealing.
The reason for this change in the design was to make the prototype more visually appealing so that it can be tested with more play testers. In addition by making the prototype more appealing it makes the game idea easier to understand.
Furthermore, the prototype was improved more by having an additional incentive in the game design. The reason for these changes in the design is to add additional incentive to the spin wheel game idea. For example personal profile page and points system can be used to motivate some of the players to share their achievement in the game to other players in their personal network. Also the reason of adding “share button” was to ma ke the design more sociable. Moreover the idea of adding arrow on the middle of the wheel prototype is to simulate the random effect of the spinning wheel. The players can easily move the arrow to the number that appears on the dice in corresponding to the number to the answers on the wheel. Furthermore by adding arrow to simulate the spinning effect made the interface more interesting and visually appearing compared to the first sketch.
The core mechanism of the game was not changed from the first prototype.
Description of the game rules / simulation
The description on how the game works was similar to the description at the first iteration with just some few differences because of the changes and addictions in the design solution.
The player starts playing the game by answering “th e question of the day”. The player proceeded to spi nning the wheel to get other people’s point of view as answer to the question of the day. When the player gets the answer on the wheel, the player has the option to rate the answer and get some points. The points will appear on their profile, and at the end the player has the option to share his achievement of the reward gain on the game on their personal network for other people to see. The images of how the game was played are as followed.
User testing, second iteration
The second user study was also a qualitative study. The purpose of the study was to find out if the game enables the player to understand an argument from another perspective and if the game is fun and interesting to play.
The studies were carried out with more play testers compared to the previous study in the first iteration. The difference between this user testing/second iteration and the first iteration/user testing is that in the first iteration the purpose of the study was to find out if the game concept was understandable to the user and if there were some specific problem associated with it. While in the second iteration the purpose was to find out if the game enables players to understand an argument from another perspective, and if the game is fun and interesting to play.
Furthermore, another major difference between the first iteration and the second iteration qualitative studies is that the first iteration/user study was carried out with just one participant, while in the second iteration/user testing the study was carried out with a total of 4 different participants. The reason for these changes is that during the second iteration the design sketch was more neatly sketch compared to the first design sketch. These enable the prototype to be used to conduct more user studies with more participants. Moreover, what were aimed to investigate at this stage of the design process that it would be better to draw conclusion from more participants. That is why the user studies were carried out with more participants to get more quality result.
Table of contents :
2.2. Related Work
3.1. Play Centric Design
4. Design process
4.1. Conceptualization stages of the design solution
4.2. Users Study and Changes Needed
4.2.1. Play testing session with the first design sketch
4.2.2. First Users study
4.2.3 Results from first user study
4.3. Second design sketch (Second Iteration)
4.3.1. Description of the game rules / simulation
4.3.2. Result from the second users testing/Iteration
5. Design concept
5.1. Final design concept and design implementation
5.1.1. The Viewlette game
5.1.2. Social Interaction within Viewlette game
5.1.3. Reward system within Viewlette game
5.1.3. Rule in the Viewlette game
5.2.1. Was this a playable game?
5.2.2. Did the game achieve its serious purpose?
6.1. Future Research
6.1. Concluding remarks