A team project developed in my Bachelor’s 2nd year course module, Interaction Design. The project task was to design a physical game to help children learn programming without using any technical devices. The team collectively decided to create a board game – ‘Short Circuit’.
A factory escape board game
After looking closely at various other products in the market, the team realised that very few board game-like products helped teach coding concepts to children in a fun and interactive way.
One of the key problems identified with products in the market was the over-reliance on computer screens which is notable in products such as Scratch & App Inventor. Our research on children’s screen time and general social interactions ideas led us to our goal to overcome the sole problem of excessive dependency on screens by designing an educational board game that simply teaches children the key concepts of programming.
I designed and developed the playing cards and co-developed a board game guide with a member of the team.
Design process & Tools used
Being new to design, I didn’t know how to effectively use Adobe suite, so, keeping the time constraints in mind, I used the simplest tool available at the time- MS Word.
The process was simple yet required several iterations. The team decided to let me play around with the colour coding & agreed on a set time to show them my choices.
I chose a few red, blue, green & black combinations for the card design & Algerian font for the game’s name. The board design was completed by another team member & shared a sketch of its final design. That sketch helped me come up with the simplistic graphics on the card. The graphics were inspired by the type of information held regarding object-oriented programming basics. Then the related text, i.e. the moves, was textually described.
The card designs were all carefully incorporated into two pages of Word & printed. I recycled old playing cards by cutting them to appropriate size & pasted the card designs upon them.
Game Guide & Card Designs
The design process began with low fidelity sketches during brainstorming ideas which helped me in the quick iteration process. The final version was chosen from 3 sketches of different colour variations.
The aim to make the cards was that they should be easily readable & understandable for children between 8-16 years old. We expect parents to play with them as well just to make the game interesting enough to encourage time off computer screens yet learn something about them.
The final version with green, red & blue colour codes (as seen in images) was light, clear, elegant & attractive to instigate curiosity.
The images below display the sketches for both the board and cards design.
Results and Analysis from Expo
An Expo was arranged to test our product where the team conducted “Between testing”. Participants were randomly assigned a version of our board game to play. In total, ten people agreed to complete our surveys, out of which a group of five players were given our complete board game, and another group of five were given a stripped-down version of the game. The stripped-down version of the game did not use the action/functions cards, but instead, the players moved by simply rolling a dice.
The analysts in the team laid a hypothesis and null hypothesis to conclude the results from the collected survey data.
Hypothesis: Testers who played the full version of Short Circuit will feel they learnt more about programming than testers who played the limited version of our game.
Null Hypothesis: Testers who played the full version of Short Circuit will not feel they learnt more about programming than testers who played the limited version of our game.
An unpaired, one-tailed TTest was conducted on the following data (Likert scale items were assigned a numeric value from 1 to 5). The result of this TTest was p = 0.0019. Therefore, the null hypothesis was rejected with at least 95% certainty, as our sample was reflective of the whole population. The data confirmed that our prediction of the full version of Short Circuit would indeed teach programming concepts better than the limited version of the game.
On teamwork- This project was my first experience where I worked in a team of eight peers who constantly supported each other and allowed me to be as creative as possible.
On design process- the design process was a challenging one. The product’s simplicity is a clear indicator of the work that went on to reach the final sketches and product design.
Overall, this project was very knowledgeable and enlightening in understanding the importance of understanding the pros and cons of technology, especially in the lives of children.
“Really talented work on the cards design!”Dr. Helen Hastie (professor)