Samantha Brunhaver & John Brunhaver
Link to Dropbox folder: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/7099240/DesigningForKids.zip
Link to Youtube video: http://youtu.be/bd0NCeUTLTM
Based on her love of board games, puzzles, animals, and magic, we decided to develop a “race to the end” type of board game for Elizabeth, our very special "client". In this game, the players have been dropped into an unhappy land without magic since bad people entombed the magical animals more than a century ago. To get home, they have to go to each tomb and rescue the animal by answering animal trivia questions and riddles; the first person to rescue all of the animals and get back to home base wins. (For complete instructions, see the Dropbox.)
One of our major lessons this week was realizing that most games and toys are not used by children in a vacuum. When designing for them, one must also think about the people who will be playing with them (in Elizabeth's case, her parents, grandparent, and sibling). To make the game more interesting to adults, we made the game more complex than fixed-paths games by stipulating that players could move in any direction on the map as long as they stayed within certain boundaries. To include younger children, we chose many of our riddles and trivia questions so that they would be easy enough for them to solve.
We also thought about how to make the board game sustainable, something that Elizabeth can play multiple times. We tried to include enough cards so that she could play the game a few times before seeing any repeats. We also made templates for the cards so that she could write her own trivia. There is also the potential for the game to become another activity entirely; because the boards and pieces are made out of wood, Elizabeth could do something else she loves: paint!
Construction of the game followed two paths: the construction of the board game, box, and pieces (the wood parts), and the construction of the trivia questions and riddles (the paper parts).
Wood Parts: We trimmed down a lot of the physical design work by using opensource bitmap images to make most of the game pieces. The mini-boards feature three animals that Elizabeth loves. The player pieces show the characters from her favorite book, The Phantom Tollbooth. We also designed a tray held together by finger joints.
We cut the parts out of the wood using the laser cutter. We had some issues setting our files up in CorelDraw. First, we found out that cropped images need to be exported and re-imported as new images to stay cropped. we also found out that the best way to keep images together is to export them to .pdf before opening them up in Corel. Actually cutting the pieces was straightforward, if long (about 5 hours total).
Paper parts: Here again we used open source riddle and trivia sites to save time. Still, making 200 trivia cards and 50 riddle cards was no easy task! We printed the cards on perforated business card sheets. Pictures of our final result are shown below.
There are many touches we would add if we had more time, from adding joints to the board to spending more time on which riddles and trivia questions are most age-appropriate for Elizabeth. More importantly, this project has prompted us to think about the difference between enrichment and education. We think this game will help expand knowledge of animals and strengthen cognitive skills. However, what this game will not do is teach new concepts. For the future, we see our responsibility not to just use our knowledge of what kids like to make more of the same, but to help frame new topics that they might not have otherwise considered.
The game in action:
The paper parts:
Pieces and pogs: