Imagine that your group is part of a new start-up company in the Austin area. Your team is in charge of creating and designing an educational digital technology for children that fall anywhere in the age range of 3-12 years old. This digital technology can be based on an existing technology (e.g. social networking website) or that integrates different types of digital technology to create something entirely new. In collaborative groups of 3 or 4 students, design an age-appropriate learning digital technology based on the course material and additional outside sources.
Since this was a group project, we worked to divide up the project evenly. As part of the assignment, we were required to create a minimum of three original images to support the design of our game. Since we worked in a group of three, each person was given at least one image to create. Additionally, the specific sections of the assignment were divided up by person, with the entire group working together to ensure that the final work was edited appropriately.
When gathering information, we used different design programs to create and alter our images (I used Adobe Photoshop), Google Docs to work on a collaborative document for writing and editing, Google Slides to create our final presentation, and Microsoft Word for the submission of our final paper. To find information, we used materials from the course, Google Scholar, and the library at The University of Texas at Austin.
During the information collecting process, we read a wide variety of informational sources to support our design. Some of the more insightful pieces included the following:
- A paper from conference proceedings which studies the overall enjoyment and participatory levels of location-based mobile gaming applications in museums. This can be found here.
- A journal article detailing the usage of Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) in museums and their parasocial implications. This article can be found here.
- A journal article assessing the sensitive periods of adolescence and the long-term implications of socio-cultural interactions, positive and negative, in children, particularly those in the 11-14 age range. This article can be found here.
From the beginning, we worked to create a project that would fit the requirements of the assignment. Based on the background observation and interviews conducted, we decided to focus on creating an application that could be used within a museum. We determined that museums need to provide an approachable access point for casual visitors, specifically children, and especially to those who many have a latent curiosity, but do not have the means or opportunities to pursue it. While we acknowledged that users may have varying levels of interest, the application was designed to capture those who would otherwise be unlikely to engage deeply with the artifacts. The three major purposes were the following: 1. To create an enjoyable rapport between children and art, which hopefully extends into adulthood; 2. To teach children basic principles of art theory, general precepts of art history, and to encourage critical thinking about art; and 3. To diffuse the notoriety of museums as uncomfortable, alienating spaces intended purely for "experts".
Due to our interests as a group, we decided to focus our game on an older age group and settled on the 8-12 age range, with a more specified group focus of 8-10. Since most of our outside research found that very few current apps and technologies address the particular convergence of art museums, technology, education, and the 8-12-years-old demographic, we ultimately decided that this would be our focus. Currently, most applications for children in museums are designed for children under the age of 10 and are limited to quizzes, scavenger hunts, and other static educational content.
Once the age range was set, we began to develop our project. Our design was simple: the user would interpret clues throughout the museum in order to stop our main character from stealing a painting in the museum before it was too late. Our project name, "The T.H.I.E.F" ("The Time Heist Interceptions Enforcement Firm") to represent the organization that was in charge of stopping our main character: the notorious and world-renowned international art thief Remy Valois.
We then began to design our game and work on how the game would work. The following steps were the final instructions we would give to the participants:
- Connect to museum's WiFi
- Download app
- Scan museum-specific QR code
- Check out headphones at front desk (if desired)
- Enter exhibit to begin play and receive mission briefing
- Scan artwork to gather data about the target painting
- Collect clues and move through exhibits
- Catch the henchmen and the international art thief before the target artwork is stolen
Once the participants were within an exhibit, they would scan an artifact and receive a clue, if applicable:
If participants needed to exit the game for any reason, they could use the menu at the bottom of the screen and they would be given a "home screen" with many choices. When the user tapped on the image, an overlay explanation would appear to give the user more guidance.
We gathered information from the course material and outside sources to support our design choices.
Our final presentation can be found here:
Our final paper can be found here:
7. Lessons Learned
Overall, this project incorporated many of the different elements of the semester, including many of the different theories and philosophies presented and the incorporation of those into the design of a functional game. Since I have never designed a game and focused my studies on Youth Services Librarianship (before the beginning of the Spring 2019 semester), it was a challenge to learn about the UI/UX side of Information Science. Learning about developing strategies for a product based on the end user's needs was a unique test and made me understand more about the details of deliverables across a project's entire life cycle.
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Designing User Interfaces for Children
The University of Texas at Austin
Adobe Photoshop, Google Docs, Google Slides, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office for Mac
Brainstorming, Communication, Creativity, Delegation, Dependability, Design, Organization, Public Speaking, Recall, Teamwork