Twister game

This week, we step away from our original concept and build a twister game. We use conductive paint paired with Touch Board to produce sound and create interaction for user.

The Touch Board had 12-pins that could play different sounds individually when connected. We gathered some sample sounds and tested them with alligator clips. After getting it to work, we decided it’s time to scale it up.

We purposely make it thicker thinking it would provide more conductivity. Unfortunately, after checking the documentation, we found out that the thicker the lines the more likely it is to create resistance value.

We went back on using conductive tape.

We also create another iteration for this, by creating a game that challenge kids’ memory skills, have them remember the sequence of the colors and tap them accordingly.

Research paper

For research assignment, I picked a paper from Proceedings of ACM IDC11 Interaction Design and Children called Evaluating technology that makes physical games for children more engaging. The paper is somewhat relevant to the project Winnie and I are building.

The authors wish to explore one of the two learning objective in kinesthetic literacy, learning to move. They found out that interactive technologies incorporated in a physical sport helps get players more engaged. And people that played it well will most likely pick up the sport in real life. Few pre-existing successful materials that embrace these ideas are Splashball, Remote Impact, and PingPongPlus.

The game proposed was for user to throw toys toward a display screen. An image shows up when the toy hits the screen and eventually create a digital collage of all the toys in the end.

Some findings through play-test:
1. Children throw differently with a physical object in hand rather than a virtual one
2. Using alternative soft toys instead of hard bouncing balls help eliminate risk of injury and distraction from their end goal
3. Adding element to create personal connections with the children motivate them more
4. Keeping the interaction simple so players of all physical abilities can play.
5. Giving feedback on their hand position, throw velocity etc helps player reflect on their progress or skills

Knock knock

After seeing our prototype, Alex told us about a UK-based company Novalia that specializes in producing conductive ink and boards. They did projects where people could touch a designated portion of event posters, and it outputs sound. Some of the similar products we found are Circuit ScribeBare conductive and 3M electrically conductive tape.

We decided to test the functionality of available materials at ITP before investing into these fancy products. We tried out 555 timer, conductive tape, and littleBits. 555 timer did not really work, but the other two works great, especially littleBits. It’s purely simple and effective.

We put up a visual target for the user to hit on using the slingshot, a buzzer would be triggered once they hit certain point. We plan to scale this up by incorporating copper tape or conductive ink for future version.

One of our user testing the stability of our slingshot.


For research assignment, I picked this paper from 2011 because it is relevant to the concept of my project.

Lo-fidelity toys

For this week, we were asked to make a lo-fidelity toys to be play-tested for our next class.

Some of the prompts given to us were:
– Target a persona, could be a child or adult
– Must be played within a specific environment
– Should be built under three materials (e.g batteries, electronics, wood…)

Winnie and I talked about how tech-heavy the toys nowadays are. Trying to bring technologies to kids as early as possible. Which is so different from what we used to have when we were young. We came across Pinaffo Pluvinage’s Papier Machine and love the aesthetic of their work. Why can’t classic and tech toys have a good match?

We list down some of the classic toys we know, and re-engineered it to add elements of tech to it.

SculptaPalooza

Last Sunday, Arnab get all of us to go to the Toyfair NYC. Hundreds of exhibitors from all over the world came and covered up two full floors of Jacob Javits Convention Center. It took me approximately 3 or 4 hours to skim through them at the very least.

This year’s trend must have something to do with sensory objects. Multiple variations of putty toys were introduced, each showcasing different rigidity, materials, or elasticity.

I came across a booth with a product called SculptaPalooza, the Squishy, Squashy, Sculpting Party Game. It’s a package that comes with a Playfoam, some game cards, a dice and a timer. Unlike other putty toys that relies heavily on ones’ imagination, users will be given constraints! In a given time, the player will be given instructions on how and what they should sculpt. Then their team members have to guess it.

What the Creator Says:
Playfoam is carried by Educational Insights, a company that focused on preschool market. They sell individual foams as well as other kit combinations. While SculptaPalooza is their first game designed for older children, ages 10 and up; they did propose instructions on how to include younger players. It is made with safe and non-toxic material, but can still be dangerous for kids as it has the capability to choke them.

What Parent and Kid says
The product is listed as Amazon’s Choice and best seller in the toys & games and learning & education toys category. They got 4.7 out of 5 stars in customer reviews. They could see similarities with the game Pictionary or Charades. All three are fast-paced multiplayer games that stimulate players’ imagination and creativity, and they have to race with time. The fact that is built on top of a game everybody is familiar with, makes the instructions pretty simple to understand.

They loved how they took a seemingly solitary, kiddie toy and turned it into a party game where adults could enjoy. Some still wish it could be more accessible to the younger audience for more families to enjoy. As we can see, they did not include children across all their promotional materials.

Another common complain was with the use of materials. They think that the foam can not hold itself very well and would rather use Playdough as substitute to it. But others disagrees as they said it adds silliness and challenges to the game.

Evocative Toys

No, my evocative toy was not a laptop. It was not even popular at that time.(I hate to admit that I am old). Just want to point out how undecorative my laptop was judging from the obsession I had over stickers when I was a kid. I guess the 7-year-old me would despise me for this.

Back in grade school, I remember sitting in class. We were having lessons, but I can’t pay attention at all. My friend and I were too busy browsing the sticker albums beneath us. Hiding it under the table so the teacher would not see us; admiring each other’s collections and exchanging stories on where we got them. We would trade off Ragnarok with Sanrio, Cardcaptor Sakura with Sailormoon, Power Rangers with Pokemon.

My brother and I would rush straight to our rooms whenever we got new stickers; whether that be I-behave-in-checkup-session-today sticker from the dentist, or I-did-great-in-exams sticker from our teacher. Part of the fun was to compete who can stick it straight, tidy, and fast! The trick was to always reference the alignment along the edges. Another criteria was to also maximize the space, rearranging them over and over again so they fall along some category, pattern, or theme. All in all I have 4 sticker albums. I still kept them inside my drawer back home.

This journal is making me nostalgic.


(Sample image from user dogboneart on flicker)