America’s Best Communities competition is a $10 million initiative to stimulate economic revitalization in small towns and cities. Each community will be awarded $50,000 to develop comprehensive strategies to accelerate the revival of their local economies and improve quality of life. The team from Lafayette is one of the top 50 finalists in the country, and we, Purdue university were clients for development of VR game, they wanted to present as part of contest. Website: America's Best Communities

GOAL

The Lafayette community representatives wanted to develop a game which involves kids and educate them. This was not traditional educational game, instead it was to be casual yet subtly educative. They wanted to develop VR game which could effectively catch kids' attention and we were certainly up for it! .

TEAM

Team size: 4
My role:
- UX Design (White board prototyping, conceptual design, game story-boarding)
- Evaluation (Usability evaluation moderator and participant guide, Usability testing execution, Analysis and Recommendations)



Research

We started with understanding the client's needs. Multiple meetings were conducted to understand their goal for the contest and available data to use.



METHOD OVERVIEW



RESEARCH FINDINGS

Based on the initial discussion and the tremendous amount of research conducted by the stakeholders, we deduced the following.

  • Immersive learning can enhance the rate of learning and practicality

  • Keeping the Virtual Environment too realistic can impact the perception, often negatively

  • It's safe for children to use VR for about 7 minutes continuously

  • Children enjoy in activities where they can actively participate, rather than just witnessing

  • Space travel concept and combination of known areas could benefit the application

  • Collection of props and building something out of it in real world will help accelerate learning

FEASIBILITY STUDY



BRAINSTORMING

After the feasibility study and extraction of data from research, we organized brainstorming session. Yes, you are thinking right, this was indeed a design thinking session. Participants included my professor, representatives from the contest, subject matter experts from the Purdue university and outside. We discussed on various concepts while locked up in Purdue Envision Center for hours (I was particularly hungry, but Sherlock used to assert that hungry brain works well!) and we finally came up with a concept. A story of an egg!





USER FLOW

What is a story without a proper flow?



Conceptual Design

As you noticed by now, I absolutely love this phase of the UX design. It was time to create magic!



STORYBOARD



Storyboard was drafted as reference for the developers to develop the game, and game designers to create the concept. This was subjected to usability evaluation as well.

 Click here to download the storyboard



USABILITY EVALUATION

  • The zoo area was not being used properly, hence props were introduced in the zoo area well.

  • The transport animation was unnecessary, hence it was simplified

  • Kids were also tested with Oculus to confirm the resilience, which was a success

  • The interactive gears worked very well, and received positive response



MODIFIED USERFLOW

An unrevised design is too good to be true!





Prototype



DEMO



The demo of the prototype has been included as video, which shows usability study, conceptual design and all other brief steps in detail. The application was developed using Unreal engine. Several field visits were made to create the concepts by game designers.





TAKEAWAY

This was a very new experience for me. I absolutely am a game freak (Masters is cutting down on that for me) and wanted to work on interaction design in this field. Its lot easier to imagine storyboard for the games compared to a traditional application. But downside is its difficult to apply the design heuristics that I am aware of. It took lot of brainstorming by time as well as from my side to come up with an optimal design decision. Cognition has a major foreplay in such design, especially high-level cognition, but low-level cognition is just as important (in case of games) as well. Once we started concentrating on that, we were at a better position of design phase.





TOOLS

Autodesk SketchPro, Photoshop, VISIO