Educational game design for children age 2-5｜Role: Research, concept, prototype
Project context: Small kids are obsessed with poo. If you are spending time with children, you know this :)
In the natural history museum in Oslo, the most frequented and most loved area by kids is the "poo station": a place where artificial poo from different animals is placed in containers and the children have to guess which animal it belongs to. This and interacting with many young children gave me the idea for an educational online game about animals, their eating habits and their poo.
The broader vision would be collaborating with wildlife conservation organizations.
Tools used: Figma, sketch books
The talented animation artist Bernice Wang made the animal drawings.
Developing the idea: Sketch, flow, wireframe
I always make very scrappy sketches at the beginning to visualize ideas and concepts.
(I made many, but here's just one of those fast, scrappy sketches)
Even creating simple flows are always helpful to see structure, logic, illogic, etc.
Wireframe in Figma
In some frames the chosen food is removed from the selection while playing with one animal, whereas in other frames, the chosen food isn't removed from the selection. This is something I'm currently testing out with a few kids which versions is best.
User research: observing children and parents
I love doing user research with children! It's such a creative process and requires full attentiveness and letting go of any and all assumptions.
The very first users were adults, basically because they were just next to me when I was prototyping. Even though it's supposed to be a game for 2-5-year olds, all adults who played with the Figma prototype, had the reactions I predicted children would have. Plus, several learned that the Wombat's poos cubes!
Some parents als had input about the reaction I envisioned the animals could show when they get the wrong food: crying animals are not a good idea because some smaller children react very sensitively and would get sad themselves. After this feedback I iterated on the possible reactions animals could show when they're given the wrong food.
Ok'd reactions when animal gets wrong type of food:
Removed reactions when animal gets wrong type of food:
Sad posture / face
I chose Figma to make the prototype because it's a software in my toolbox. Now that the concept has been tested and iterated, it's time to design it on a gaming platform.
Voice prompts and audio feedback will be added in the next iteration. So far a selection of the voice prompts were written prompts, which were said out loud by the parent while the child was playing.
The broader vision for this game is that it's not only fun and a little bit educational, but that there will be interactive information available on every habitat and animal that appears in the game.
Further, I envision collaborations with conservation organizations: that the information about the habitat will be linked with related conservation programs, and that a part of the revenue will be donated to selected organizations.