UX Designer + Researcher

Copy of familiar

 
 

CHALLENGE

In the design of a game to help people CONNECT WITH STRANGERS, what would the gameplay mechanics look like?

In designing a solution to this challenge, I focused on the GAMEPLAY MECHANICS, as those are most influential in the dual goals of 1) creating a GAME, and 2) helping people to CONNECT WITH STRANGERS (new co-workers, classmates, dates they may have just met).  Considerations of packaging and graphic design were given careful attention at the end of the project. 

 
 
 

SOLUTION

Step 1: LEARN

Each player will learn about the other player by sharing stories while under the added constraint of a time limit. 

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Step 2: GUESS

Then, each player will guess the other player's answers to personality questions based on what they've just learned.

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Step 3: CHAT

Finally, players chat about noticed similarities and differences, and can ask questions + expand on stories.

 
 
 

METHODS

Over the course of 3 weeks as game designer and creator, I completed 5 prototype iterations and rounds of testing.

For the final prototype, I used name-tag labels and stuck them on standard-size poker playing cards.  Throughout the project, an emphasis was on creating "minimum viable products", until the final round when I paid special attention to crafting a high-fidelity product.

For the final prototype, I used name-tag labels and stuck them on standard-size poker playing cards.  Throughout the project, an emphasis was on creating "minimum viable products", until the final round when I paid special attention to crafting a high-fidelity product.

In total, there were 5 rounds of testing.  After each round, I quickly processed the valuable feedback I received and made quick changes.  With each round, I developed the game mechanics further, and gained a better understanding of how we might facilitate conversations with strangers.

In total, there were 5 rounds of testing.  After each round, I quickly processed the valuable feedback I received and made quick changes.  With each round, I developed the game mechanics further, and gained a better understanding of how we might facilitate conversations with strangers.

With the visual design and packaging, I focused on what kinds of visual would evoke both comfort and sophistication, fun and meaningfulness.  Many font and typographic options were considered before choosing, and the logo was chosen based on consultation with an illustrator.

With the visual design and packaging, I focused on what kinds of visual would evoke both comfort and sophistication, fun and meaningfulness.  Many font and typographic options were considered before choosing, and the logo was chosen based on consultation with an illustrator.

 
 
 

PROCESS

Click to enlarge.


Iteration #1:

A game to LEARN about strangers.

 
 

INITIAL HYPOTHESIS:

Using questions from the New York Times "36 Questions That Lead to Love", which are specifically designed to foster intimacy, I could help people learn about and develop connections with strangers.

Each of the cards had a point value, and you could get more points by answering more intense questions.

 

FEEDBACK FROM TESTING:

In testing, I found that users enjoyed having conversations with other people, but they found these questions too intense, and that overall, it just didn't feel like a game.  

 

Iteration #2:

Trying to make the game fun.

 
 

DESIGN CHOICES FOR PROTOTYPE #2:

I decided to alter the gameplay mechanics to make it feel more like a game.  In addition to answering a partner's questions, I also had players play a round of Scattergories.  The thought process here was to try and get people to learn about both their similarities and differences.  The original questions were also toned down in intensity, such that they were no longer "36 Questions That Lead to Love", but rather questions inspired by a casual dating website.

 

FEEDBACK FROM TESTING:

Users found the questions from the casual dating website to be fun, but the game of Scattergories to be much too complicated.  They enjoyed finding similarities to each other, but didn't see how the game of Scattergories really helped them to find differences.

 

 

Iteration #3:

Introducing the GUESS game mechanic.

 
 

DESIGN CHOICES FOR PROTOTYPE #3:

As a result, I retained the questions from the casual dating website.  Instead of using game mechanics from Scattergories, I instead used game mechanics from The Newlyweds Game where you have to guess what your partner's answer is, and for each correct guess you score a point.

 

FEEDBACK FROM TESTING: 

For this round of testing, I got the feedback that exchanging stories was the most fun part of the entire experience.  In addition, people really liked when they got as much opportunity as possible to share stories about themselves with their partners.

 

 

Iteration #4:

Introducing the CHAT game mechanic.

 
 

DESIGN CHOICES FOR PROTOTYPE #4:

I edited the game so that it progresses in two rounds – the first round less intense, the second a little more in-depth.  In addition, the game ends with a chance to ask the other player questions, and share additional stories.

 

FEEDBACK FROM TESTING:

Overall, people enjoyed the gameplay mechanics.  They enjoyed having the time limit and felt comfortable sharing stories about themselves that were increasingly personal.  They did suggest that the overall visual look of the game could be more polished.  

 

Iteration #5:

Visual design and packaging.

 

Different sets of questions for Round 1 and Round 2.

 

 

DESIGN CHOICES FOR PROTOTYPE #5:

I wanted to keep the game friendly and approachable, yet also professional and refined.  As a result, I ended up choosing a more fun logo design, while balancing that with the word "familiar" in the typeface Souvenir (which suggests both a sophistication, and a nostalgic throwback).  In addition, the color orange was chosen to be inviting and conversation inspiring.

 
 
 

NEXT STEPS AND LEARNINGS

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NEXT STEPS

After finishing the game, I had the opportunity to have a few different groups of people play it (including students, designers, working professionals, parents, and senior citizens).  So far, feedback has ranged from intrigued to very positive.  A number of people have asked where / when they can buy the game.  As a result, I'm planning to sell the game online on The Game Crafter.  In order to prepare for that, I need to:

  • Fine-tune the questions and make sure that the questions are both enjoyable and original.
  • Create a Kickstarter in order to generate publicity for the game, and to get initial funding for the first manufacturing.
  • Make an outreach plan: I'm thinking of reaching out to corporations and schools that might use it for Orientation, as well as local game shops, and individuals.

 

LEARNINGS

  • Constraints and strategic choices are essential to making this feel like a game.  The game became fun for players once they were under a time pressure, and had to make choices as to what questions they would ask their partner.  Players seemed to enjoy the cooperative nature of the game. 

 

  • People are looking for connection.  A number of people mentioned their favorite part of the game was sharing stories with their partner.

 

  • Often, the differences are just as interesting as the similarities.  This game was also play-tested amongst people who were already familiar with each other.  These people had just as much fun guessing correctly as finding out what they didn't know about their partner, and the story behind it.