• Sarah

Phase 3- Week 9: End of week review

Updated: May 5, 2019

This week myself and Rubi have divided up game responsibilities for the presentation, Rubi has been looking at the game idea of a 'Shared Narrative' and I've been focused on 'Family Magic'. This has led me to building up research in regards to play and the family. We have then split tasks up tasks for 'Speedy Pathways'. Rubi is creating assets for me and I am using these to create an animation demonstrating the gameplay. My aim for 'Family Magic' and 'Speedy Pathways' in the presentation, was to get across the gameplay and how its played.

In order to do this I had to really lay down our research into play theory and family play.

Play theories (sketchbook)

I’ve been looking at play theories in regards to why we play and to understanding them in the context of the family. I explored surplus energy theory, pre-exercise theory, recreation and relaxation theory. I’ve found that children play and practice adult behaviours to equip themselves for adult life, it also replenishes energy due to it being unfamiliar cognitive activity. While adults are continuously living through adult behaviour and these cognitive behaviours have become their norm. Demonstrating how adults are exhausted from using these cognitive behaviours all day. This is something we could aim to tackle. We should tackle and explore game length and perhaps look at adults most relaxing time during the working week (i.e. not Friday night). This could potentially be used within the marketing of the game. This is furthered with the glimpse of findings we have seen from our survey, with a parenting stating that there would be further enjoyment with short gameplay.

Linking and understanding familial play research

I went on to look at the purpose of familial play which identified that "Parent/child play is encouraged to strengthen the family"(The Importance of Play, Dr David Whitebread University of Cambridge), it helps there relationship and helps them to connect which is where my previous research has shown parents are struggling. Beyond this I looked it into the definitions of fun and play, play requires fun thats isn't practical or serious. Where as fun is general enjoyment or amusement. It's important that play children have access to free play, where the purpose is for fun not learning. With the increased pressure of playful learning activities parents must ensure this free play is available to children so they can reduce stress, which only free play can achieve due to it not being serious(Taking Playtime Seriously, Perri Klass).

As well as this there is the issue of different play styles with parent and child (Peter Gray Ph D.). A child is constantly learning and relishes play to equip them for adult life, however adults are stressed from these adult activities and come home from work wanting to play, as opposed to just enjoy (i.e. not serious activity) (the application of recreation and relaxation theory). This has demonstrates the issues of child playing separately from the parent. There is also the issue of the parent not being up to the same skill level as the child, in either tech ability or controls or on the flip side they become too competitive (Why 8-12-years don't want to play with their parents, Sketchbook).

My research has further justified that the child is likely to pick a game with the parent happily participating, as they want to play with the child somewhat regardless of activity. I found that this is because during inter-generational play, parents are more engaged with their child, whereas the child is engaged with the game (Can Video Games Promote Intergenerational Play & Literacy Learning? Cynthia Chiong). Therefore the game needs to appeal to the child to keep either party engaged. We achieve this with our 'Family Magic' game, exploring the wizardry literary interests of the 8-12 year olds to engage them. We also wanted to understand whether parents would enjoy and engage with this topic too. The theme focusses on witches and magic and the understanding is that the modern day witch could act as a dual address the game (KideoGames lecture) with both parent and child interested in different ways (child- role play, parent- witchcraft).

With the engagement of the players, this resource also expressed about how parents believed that to keep both child and parent engaged, there needed to be level playing field. This idea also relates to the 'Family Magic' game with the shared familial goal. We could also take the further by creating more element of chance with the combination spell figures.

Preparing for the presentation

This week I have been very focused on the research of familial play and wanting to identify the justification of our ideas. I also wanted to ensure that I got the gameplay of each idea across. To do this I created animations showing elements of the gameplay. With 'Speedy Pathways', we wanted to demonstrate the movement aspect as this is something we struggled with originally. Rubi created some assets and I demonstrated the fish asset swimming along a visible path in the scene. To demonstrate the scene as on different devices I proceeded to split into 3 and add birds eye view graphics of people using tablets. The scene proceeds to fade away to reveal the people moving about. For 'Family Magic' we wanted to demonstrate the NFC cards via animation. To achieve this I moved away from the simple top-down view and created a quick cauldron on Cinema 4D. I then animated a plane to demonstrate the motion of casting a spell, by putting the card in the cauldron.

I then worked on limiting the gameplay overview of 'Family Magic', as at this point we had a long list of player journey that I was having trouble limiting. For the purpose of the presentation I whittled it down to three sentences concerning narrative task, spell casting and spell result.

At this point Rubi is preparing the final game idea, 'Shared narrative' which looks at her idea of narrative elements being split between players giving an equal split of control.


At the end of this week we presented our 3 game ideas. To guide our presentation myself and Rubi, outlined some of the core aims for our project; to demonstrate the purpose of our games and to act as somewhat of an evaluating criteria for the class.


  • To bring together familial units

  • Encourage parents/guardians to engage in gameplay with children

  • Encourage true-connectivity

I think these aims were vital for our presentation as it identified that our second game idea,

Family Magic: Secret Spells, required more development to demonstrate that it encouraged parental engagement. This is something which we need to explore more through survey results.

We also defined our target audience as an additional criteria for the class to evaluate our ideas. We identified this target audience of 8-12 year olds, to avoid blindly trying to target everyone and to avoid our games failing to appeal to anyone.

Our target audience ("12" - Hollie Fernando, 2018)

Our first idea we presented was "Speedy Pathways". We utilised the idea of a common family goal to embrace family culture and avoid sibling conflict by toying with the idea of multi-device usage. We outlined the concept of connecting devices, with constant movement, to continue a pre-set animation. As well as this we wanted to further difficulty and add fun gameplay elements by utilising phone capabilities such as gestures (i.e. the gyroscope to shake, tip etc.)

  • This idea in turn proved most popular, with the most votes considerably.

  • The use of phone position in game could be something unique.

  • Someone identified that this requires multiple players, this was important for us due to our aims. We want to connect family members, particularly with this game, via local gameplay as we think it will encourage true-connectivity.

  • As well as this it was pointed out that this would be good for parents with tech-knowledge (with some parents not having this ability). We hope that this game would challenge both child and parent, by them problem solving and discovering how the phone needs to be used at each stage. Yet prior knowledge of games using, for example, shake enhanced mechanics could be an advantage for a player.

  • Xcode ability would be needed to produce an iOS version of this.

Speedy Pathways: Moving phones

Speedy Pathways: Pre-defined pathway

Difficulties of this idea arose whilst researching, with the capability of the phone having knowledge of device proximity via left and right. However we looked into the scope of the gyroscope and began to theorise how we could pull compass data. This led to us theorising how we could utilise opposing bearings (with scope) of two phones. This would require additional rotation from the player which could be interesting and provide additional activity for the key player of the moment. Theres a resource, The "DesignMotionEvent" experimental web API, that could pull this sort of information, however there is still this issue of extreme close proximity identification. We have explored potentially using co-ordinates and bluetooth data; however both of which are not nearly close enough to enable to identify within cm's, which would be needed for this application. To make this game successful within the phone output we would need to be able to obtain this sort of data. However maybe this is something that could be better done on a different type of device.

Theorising compass bearings, data ability

Family magic

We then presented our second idea, 'Family Magic'. This is a collaborative family card game with a shared narrative goal by casting spells interactively using NFC cards. The interactive card game includes, a smart cauldron and narrative application. This game is a user experience, which is what we want it to showcase. It's about how the players interact with the cauldron and application.

The idea of the game is that each round a new player becomes the lead role and takes on the narrative, guiding the story along. Players place ingredient cards in an the cauldron, viewing the outcomes of that spell via AR animations on the application. A successful spell results in unlocking the next part of the narrative and the next spell to perform.

Along with the use of NFC chips and AR, we’ve also thought about some gameplay developments.We did a small survey with parents and they said they found it hard to find the time to want to play with their children, despite wanting to. They thought short gameplay could be a solution to this, so we’re exploring ways for players to ‘pause’/drop-in/drop-out to enable this. We think this could be achieved by the app saving games for the players, so they could play a spell per gameplay session (approx. 10-15mins).

  • This idea was not as easily understood, I think that the animation was a distraction in hindsight as it only showed one part of gameplay not an overview.

  • However people liked the animation and the witches theme.

Shared narrative

Rubi went on to describe the 'Shared narrative' idea. She explained that our final idea built on the idea of multi device inputs and the importance of storytelling in parent child relationships.

In this concept, the family collectively progresses through a simple narrative, filling in key elements along the way which alter the tonality, character interactions and visuals within this simple story. Each device, and thus each player, can be assigned different roles based on their age and subsequent skill level, since In our research we found that often siblings fights about differences in skill levels and the ‘control’ of the game. Roles could include mood regulation of a character, stickering and decorating the background and moving the character as well as controlling its interactions with the environment.

'Shared Narrative' game idea

Rubi concluded the presentation with some notes on stylistic ideas. She explained that she experimented with similar looks to Lauren Child (Charlie and Lola) and Jessie Willcox Smith (The Water Babies) due to their heavy relevance to children's books. During the feedback after the presentation we agreed that these were styles were not appropriate for attracting the 8-12 year old target market, they're definitely for a less mature audience (Lauren Child style) and too mature audience (Jessie Willcox Smith).

Some of Rubi's artistic style research

Although it was not the most popular choice, myself and Rubi decided to opt to take 'Family Magic' into phase 4. We think it has great potential but needs simplifying as it tries to do too many things. We also concluded the day with a tutorial with Adam. We need to revaluate the digital element of our game as its currently is difficult to explain. How can the digital element improve gameplay? we need to question why we need it? As well as this, we need consider how we apply the narrative element. Would it be better in the physical book or digital application.

We have also discussed what we want from our games proposal. We should aim to create a guideline that is cohesive document demonstrating the game. - potentially a style guide?

Next week we should ensure that the application of technology is right for the game and experimenting with it as well as starting to visualise parts of the game through artefacts.