After my ideation session last week, I really wanted to explore the ways in which sedentary activities such as video gaming, reading stories and general screen time can become a more active experience. This led me to looking at alternative video game controllers, and thinking about how companies such as Nintendo have used emerging technology to innovate the video game industry in the past.
I came across a few examples of alternate controllers from the commercial Nintendo Labo (Image 1 above), which uses the switch Joycon with DIY kits to create anything from musical instruments to robot simulations. I also found a website called Shake That Button which is said to give a home to the experiences that alternative controllers made by hackers and gamers have created in the past. Everything from mask controllers such as HOMIE (pictured above, video below) through to full body experiences with trampolines!
I really like this idea of becoming a character through dress / role play. This is because from my research, particularly from the survey, observations of Caitlyn and interview with her mum, I got to understand just how much of play at the 4/5/6 age range is acting out what you see in the world, taking on characterisations and "small world play". This has got me wondering if it would be possible to create an interactive costume of some kind that could get kids moving. Almost like putting on a costume and stepping in to a story or another world, filled with fun and movement. Games such as Unicornelia (video below), have got me wondering it what ways it would be possible to have children enact characters, although I appreciate this kind of game seems quite gimmicky and wouldn't necessarily be for everyone.
That being said, I am wondering if there is a type of costume that could be more adaptable, that allows for the child to use their imagination and interpret their character in their own way. Something with less novelty and more longevity. One of the important things about getting kids more active, is to create something habit forming, and for parents to want to invest in it, for there to be longevity of use so that it is not just another toy that doesn't get played with.
During a tutorial with Ewan and Chris, I showed them the above sketch and spoke about alternative controllers with them and the possibility of using one to control a game that did not have a screen in a similar way to how Storyball navigates its users. However, I am still undecided on whether there will be a screen element or not, so want to ensure I explore both options at this point in time.
They advised me to look at embodied interactions, so I have got a few books to read about sound and embodied interactions. Ewan also asked me to consider how important the characterisation and narrative would be for this experience to work, and suggested that I look in to this as soon as possible. I suggested I could maybe try out a few stories with a children's theatre company and see how they act out the story. Whilst I am trying to organise this, I started thinking about potential characterisations and themes that are popular with children and how this could translate to a game. To assist with this, I also took a book out from the library called Game Design Workshop by Tracey Fullerton, as it includes a lot of sections on playtesting and takes a playcentric approach to creating innovative games. I wanted to ensure I started with the essential game design mechanics for it to be playable so read the chapter about the core elements for all games. These include:
- Objectives (specific goals for the players)
- Procedures (how/what players can do to achieve these objectives)
- Rules (What objects and players within the game can and cannot do)
- Resources (Objects that are valuable because they help the player achieve their goal - these are typically scarce within the game)
- Conflict (The relationship between the objectives of the players and the rules and procedures limiting and guiding behaviour creates another distinctive element of games: conflict, which players work to resolve in their own favour.)
- Boundaries (the physical and / or conceptual space in which a game takes place)
- Outcome (The key motivator for players)
Often there will be other elements depending on the game itself, however these are elements which must be considered during game design. From this, I wanted to start thinking about potential game concepts and stories that I can test out as experience prototypes with some kids, to see what their reaction to different actions and possible interactions. I decided to start with a space theme as whilst I was sketching these I was working at the cinema and First man was on, so it seemed like a good place to start - as it is a very popular theme amongst children too.
This also gave me some inspiration to start developing a character, thinking about a potential 'sidekick' for the user, who could help to guide them through the game. I wanted to get a sense for a potential animated character first off, to see if the visual is necessary. I also work quite visually, so this will help my process in developing the personality. To do this, I have used Adobe Character Animator. It was my first time using it, but it was really easy to get to grips with after a few tutorials. Essentially, you create images of your character in photoshop / illustrator and use character animator to turn these images in to a puppet. Character animator will then give you the option to use your own face as a mask with the webcam, to map the facial and body movements to your own. I started working on a star character and here is where I have got with it so far:
I want to explore the potentials of this technology, specifically how it can map a character to a person. Could this be used somehow within a video game experience? Could this be a way the user could act out their video game experience? would this make them be more active?
I want to keep moving forward with concepting and generating ideas from this one. I also want to read further over the books on embodied interactions and the game design workshop, as well as keep thinking about what stories can get kids moving, what characters they could become etc... to get them moving about and how this relates to role play / costume / dressing up.