CHI 2020 Finalist: A game designed for seniors to improve their physical activity and social Interaction
The ACM CHI is the premier international conference of Human-Computer Interaction. Where researchers and practitioners gather from across the world to discuss the latest in interactive technology. I, along with my teammate, took part in the Game Design Competition and are selected as the top 10 finalists to present our paper and design in Hawaii in April 2020.
View publication on ACM digital library.
We participated in the category Transformative & Transgressive Play: to expand the boundaries of game design and explore the role of play in non-gaming settings. We wanted to influence a game in healthcare for seniors to improve their overall health.
Research, Conceptualize ideas, Visual Design, Gameplay, Prototyping, Usability Testing, Video Editing, Paper
12 Weeks | October - December 2019
Sketch, Principle, Invision, Photoshop, Illustrator, Premier Pro, After Effects
Szu Yu Yang - UX Researcher & Myself
To design a game that increases physical activity and social interaction for seniors in a community setting.
In the United States, the community centers are one of the essential resources for seniors by providing them with programs and services. They sometimes feel less connected with other people in the center and are in social isolation.
Our game Team Bingo is a hybrid game influenced by the classic game Bingo. Unlike Bingo, to play this game, there should be at least two teams, and the game consists of collaborative physical and cognitive tasks players need to complete to win as a team.
To watch the game demonstration click here.
There are six key elements in the game
The“Opportunity Icon,” when called out, the player whose icon matches in their bingo card gets to spin the wheel. The wheel consists of tasks players would need to perform to fill out that icon in their Bingo card.
Two ways to win the game:
The first way is if each player in the team completes their role as per the Bingo Card given to them, their team wins.
The second way to win the game is if one player from the team completes all the numbers in their Bingo Card, their team wins.
• Our IRB to get approved took several weeks which delayed our research
• Scheduling with users for interview was challenging due to their schedule
Aging leads to a decline in physical wellness, cognitive abilities, and increased loneliness in seniors. Research indicates socialization as a key factor for keeping seniors mentally, physically, and emotionally fit. Some seniors go to the community centers by participating in game sessions.
• Games can increase the information processing for seniors and better emotional functioning
• Games allow the seniors to increase their sense of belonging and reduce loneliness
• Gameplay integrated with physical activity results in improved fitness
However, while insights tell us that gamification creates higher motivation for seniors to perform physical activities and wellness, there is a lack of research on social and entertainment elements that motivate seniors to perform tasks that they did not expect to do at first.
We partnered with Concord Center Association, which has a community center for seniors open for 5 hours each day. We started with field observation followed by interviews to understand our user's purpose to visit the center, challenges, and how they play games.
We observed their weekly game session to learn types of games seniors play, interactions during the games, and their challenges.
I lead the semi-structured interviews with 9 seniors and 2 staff members who host game sessions.
To view interview scripts, click here.
• What is your motivation to come to the center?
• What are the activities you do daily?
• What are the games you play?
• Likes and dislikes about games?
• How do you socialize with others in the center?
• What digital technologies do you use?
We found the most played game at the center is Bingo, and many seniors come to the center on the days when the Bingo session is happening. In the current Bingo sessions, each player would have four bingo cards with the goal of filling in a line of numbers on each card either horizontally, diagonally, or vertically to win the game.
The staff who hosts the game has to repeat the called out numbers as it's hard for seniors to keep track.
To synthesize the data from interviews, we used the method affinity diagramming.
We gathered insights on users behavior, living situation, games they play, and challenges.
Most of the seniors are introverts and would only communicate with people who they know in the center.
Seniors spend their time at home by playing games on phones but are quickly bored when they play alone.
Many seniors live alone in an apartment and perform basic chores like cooking cleaning.
Most seniors only use mobile to call, text, or play games, and some also use the computer to play games.
• Gloria is an introvert
• Drives to the center by herself
• Plays games 3-4 hours in a day at the center
• Minimal household work like cooking and cleaning
• Can not stand for long due to her health
• Scared to do any exercise
• Tries to socialize with people in the center
• Less friends and activities at the Apartment
• Loves to play games like Bingo and Dominos
• Likes spending time at the center
• Likes to compete in a game and win
• To build a good social network
• To stay healthy physically & mentally
Three main issues were found
As the holiday season was approaching, so we had to schedule with seniors for test play quickly, and be ready with a working prototype within two weeks.
How can we motivate seniors to perform physical activities and improve their social skills in the community center with the game Bingo?
Our design goal had to be around the game Bingo as adopting a new game would be not be ideal, and many seniors visit the center only for Bingo sessions.
We rigorously fleshed out the concept from how the game would start to how it would end.
Since the seniors did not have much experience with technology, and the center did not have the budget to provide them. We decided the game had to have physical elements that lie close to the actual bingo game they play.
Things considered in design:
• There is a television in the center which we can use to display numbers
• Inspiration for design is from digital games and casino which the seniors like
• Keep physical Bingo cards as seniors are familiar with it
Due to time constraints, I could not make low fidelity designs. I improvised and started with style guide inspired by digital games to start high fidelity designs as the validation of the concept was essential.
Rationalizing key elements of our concept
To improve senior’s social interaction, we decided to have the game in a team setting, which will motivate them to talk and strategize with their team.
Each player within a team having a unique card will drive them to complete their role to help their team win by communicating more.
Crazy L: Fill the numbers in the shape of L
Four in the Corner: Fill 4 numbers at each corner
Cross X: Fill numbers to form a shape of X at center
Three Layer Cake: Fill top, middle, and bottom rows
Each card also has unique "Opportunity Icons."
To Spin'O'Wheel consists of team & individual physical and problem-solving tasks that each player will perform periodically when their icon is called out to help their team progress in the game.
The tasks were carefully chosen by us to ensure no physical or mental harm will cause. Some concepts in the tasks are inspired by games that are for all ages, such as Tic-Tac-Toe, Charades, etc.
Undo Number is a chance for the team to strategize and undo an already called number. The opposite team has to uncheck that number from their card.
After a player completes their role, we wanted them to be still engaged in the game by aiming to complete all rows & columns in their card to help their team win.
We did not have a developed game, so we scripted our test-play to ensure each participant had a chance on Spin the wheel. The session lasted for an hour with 7 senior participants and the staff, who usually the hosts Bingo to conduct the test play.
To view the test play script, click here.
Seniors mentioned that they felt more engaged as a group and expressed their excitement when taking turns under the “Opportunity icon.” They felt most of the physical tasks in the test-play were feasible for them and small revision on providing more well-described instructions when revealing tasks for better understanding.
“We like the moves. I like to spin it up and we all were involved in the group discussions. We were all active in both.”
“That's very fun. And I actually believe they enjoyed it. In fact, I would put it on the day I could call it.”
Staff who hosted the test play
The game was well-received by Concord Center that they wanted to adopt the game. We are allocating funds to develop the game and further refine the designs as per the needs of the center.
Other community centers can adapt our game and adjust tasks to those that are suitable for them with help from others, such as a physical therapist that has a better understanding of the senior’s capabilities.