Maria Elsinger

Daily Nature

 

How can I make use of technology to motivate children to explore nature outside their home?

 

When I think back to when I was 8 I remember afternoons in the forest, on the roadside or in the garden. We -the kids- were playing around, all together till it was late and our parents calling us to come inside for supper. But today when I look outside a window of the city I can hardly see children playing. Why is that so? During my work with children I often realize most of them disappear in the virtual world of web. And if I suggest to do something without media it frightens me to hear that some have no idea what to play and rather prefer to watch TV.

There exist already several studies about children and their growing up with virtual reality. Almost all experiences they do with virtual worlds comparing to the real worlds are more poor and areas of the brain concerning spatial understanding and other areas which are important for the real world are often underdeveloped.


Concept

What I want to do

The Idea is to create a game which motivates children to go outside and explore nature.

The game should…

…mainly be used outside

…motivate to interact with real objects like trees, leaves, animals

…motivate to learn more

…link up to other kids

 

 

Why I want to do it

Designtask

The design task here is to design a way to explore reality with help of virtuality.

Why is that necessary?

The surrounding in which we grow up has an enorm impact on how we will live in future. A child which spends more time in virtual worlds than in the reality is not able to build  important structures of the brain which are responsible for the later intelligence involving empathy, creativity, social competence and other key qualifications we need. To build these basic brain areas the child needs to interact with his surrounding during his time of growing up. In earlier times this happened automatically. But since we are in a century where technology surrounds us all the time, children get in contact with it too. And thats where we need to be careful to find a balanced way for the kids to be able to learn and grow up well. An example is when a child watches an animal in the forest. The child automatically connects the experience of seeing that animal with the sounds, scent and atmosphere of the environment. Though by watching a movie about this animals, at the same time it’s situated in a totally different environment. The room is maybe dry and warm and there are other sounds like the coffee machine, cars etc. It learns about the animal in a wrong context.

In my work with children I realize that most of them are kind of addicted to playing with the virtuality in the internet. When asking them to go outside theres hardly an interest. I realized too, that a prohibit to use the internet or play virtual games, doesn’t work at all but makes the child mostly stubborn and angry. So if theres this interest in playing with virtuality, why not using it as a way to connect the children with outside?

How I want to do it

1.Research on applications/games which already exist and which are about teaching nature, combine virtuality with reality and games made for kids.

Focus on: Interface, User experience, Content

What do I want to find out during my research? :

2.Creating a concept how the game should work.

Designing the virtual part(1.wireframes 2. Interface design)

Designing the real part (Boxes/Instructions/Interaction)

Final result

The final result should be a prototype with which the kid can interact, search for one task and fulfill it.

____________________________________________________________________________

Research

Goals:

A: The first questions I ask myself are concerning the behavior of the kids and what they like:

  1. How do successful games like “Pokemon Go“ invite the user to go outside? 
  2. What are kids interested in when playing such games? What makes fun?
  3. What makes fun to interact with outside?

B: The following questions are more about the visual part of the application and their structure:

  1. How do applications/games combine technology with the surrounding?
  2. How do applications/games teach about nature?
  3. How do applications/games for children look like? Is there a certain kind of structure?

 

 

Application: Geocaching (Including Point A123 and B1)

 

Reaction of the kid while playing Geocaching:

Expectation: 

User experience journey:

 

Results:

A: The first questions I ask myself are concerning the behavior of the kids and what they like:

  1. How do successful games like “Pokemon Go“ invite the user to go outside?
  2. What are kids interested in when playing such games? What makes fun? Search and find, success, gaining things like f.e. points 
  3. What makes fun to interact with outside?

B: The following questions are more about the visual part of the application and their structure:

  1. How do applications/games combine technology with the surrounding?
  2. How do applications/games teach about nature?
  3. How do applications/games for children look like? Is there a certain kind of structure?

 

 

First Ideas for possible games

A Question I need to answer to construct an Idea of a game is where the game should be placed. The Interaction can happen either in the Virtual World, as an augmented Reality or in the Real World.

 

 

Treasure-Hunt:

Idea1

Idea2

8 Comments

  1. It would be great if in your research analysis of existing applications you would find ways to depict the structure of the data and processes. You could use for instance wireframes or user experience journeys.

    1. Yes, I thought the same and am trying to find a way to visualize it well. It’s still difficult for me to find the right structure. Im just working on something and then would need the feedback of the group to see whether it can be understood. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  2. Let’s focus a little on the “How do I want to do it”:
    When it comes to your research please be specific about what you are researching and why. What are the questions you have before starting your research. What kind of results do you want from that research? An understanding of the current paradigms in comparable digital applications on the market right now? An idea of their business models? Is it about the technology that is currently available or might be available in the near futures? Or do you want to arrive at a specific (fairly precise) design question? Or to make a long story short: What do you want from that research and how are you going to achieve it?
    When it comes to the second part, the realisation process, I would add a couple of things: First of all we need clear visualisations of the idea. And by this I don’t just mean the details of the software but a general understanding of how this will work (scenarios, a more abstract depiction of what the thing does). Oh, and let’s be careful to use proper terminology here. In your case let’s talk about software and physical parts, not about “virtual” and “real”. Software on a phone is of course “real” and physical objects such as a money bill can also represent “virtual” properties.

  3. I love your idea Maria and am curious what you’ll come up with.
    A question that came to my mind when reading your introduction was why do kids even prefer to play on their smartphones or watch TV instead of going outside?

    Is it because it is easily accessible, distracting or no exhausting physical activity is needed? Is it because it is addictive?

    I think these questions could be important for you to find the right ways to design your game.

    1. Hey Julien,
      thank you for your comment!
      Indeed your questions are the same Im asking myself too. I can only guess though. Will try to find out more!

  4. Hello Maria,
    I am very impressed about how well you structure your content!
    I am wondering if you have some answers how Pokemon Go managed to be so successful? And how they designed their game so that people actually want to go out and find more? Or generally if you are able to answer your last few questions?

  5. I LOVE how you combined the screenshots of the application with the depiction of the person using it (and their respective current environment -> virtual or physical). Well done! What are your next steps? Do you want to try out those 2 ideas? Or collect more of them?

  6. Maria, I also really like the visualization and structure of your process. This makes your approach very clear and fun reading. You can also tell how much thought and effort you have already put into it.

    I want to share another insight with you.
    In my point of view, the success of PokemonGo was mostly due to the reputation of the really successful former Pokemon games and the nostalgic feeling that came with it. Also, it was the first mass popular game using augmented reality (i think), at least on your phone.

    So sure, seeing the pokemon jump on your friends’ nose was fun in the beginning, but after that, the game was completely boring and people lost interest. I don’t know anybody who played the game longer than a month. And that was also just because it had some addicting charakter, but then the reason for playing wasn’t the fun factor anymore, just the urge to collect more stupid beasts.

    What the game is lacking and what makes a good game in my opinion is first of all a story. A story that captivates you and immerses you in the environment.
    Secondly, I think the gameplay was boring. Move, point your phone, swipe, repeat… no strategy or skill needed.
    And last but not least, I missed a bigger goal in the game. What happens after you have captured a lot of Pokemon? You could challenge a few other Pokemon in Arenas, but excluding casual gamers that didn’t stand a chance against the strong Pokemon, making that part of the game useless for them.
    And even if you had stronger Pokemon, the only thing you could do was buy stuff to let you catch more Pokemon…

    So all in all, I think PokemonGo is a good example on how you could use augmented reality to enhance gaming experience, but really isn’t a good example of a good and interesting game. Probably that wasn’t even their goal.

    I hope this helps a bit, and let me know if you need volunteers to try your game ideas!! ;D

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