Live and Learn: Exploring choices
Jared Braun, Tung Vu, Matt Venezia, Joshua LaFrance
Genre: 2D Catching Game, Casual, Tetris Style
Style: Emojis and Bright Colors
Audience: English speaking children of the United States who are in elementary school grades 2nd, 3rd, and 4th (ages 7 – 10). These children will also be exposed to standard anti-drug curriculums like D.A.R.E.
Entity Objective: To make 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders aware of the dangers and negative effects of opioids, on an appropriate grade level.
Primary Objective: Provide an entertaining yet educational game for our target audience that demonstrates (at an appropriate level of detail for the age group) the dangers and negative effects of choosing to use or associate with opioids. The game will leverage conditioning via repetitive sprites that are either “safe” or “dangerous” to touch. These simple rules of play will help students internalize the dangers of opioids using visual cues.
Why this objective? This objective directly satisfies the entity objective through the medium of a video game. Simple user input and feedback will enable the conditioning via repetitive sprites to be as effective as possible.
Introduction to Game: The game begins at a menu screen with “Play”, “Info”, and “Quit” buttons. The “Info” button is used to bring up a colorful UI that offers grade level appropriate reading materials with images that can be used to further dissuade students from using drugs. The “Play” button launches the game and begins a timed 60 second game session where the player must catch safe items (ice cream, toys, books, etc.) and avoid catching dangerous items (pill capsules, powders, needles, dangerous liquids, etc). At the end of the game session, a score report is provided.
Mobile: Swiping left and right
PC: Left and right arrows
Consoles: Left joystick input
Score/Objective/Winning/Losing/Competition: The player wins and loses single game sessions only. If they collect too many dangerous items then they will end the game in a losing state. Alternatively, if they avoid collecting too many dangerous items then they win with a score determined by the number of safe items they had collected.
Interface/Information: The player’s mobile device is held vertically and the screen is divided (without indicators) into 4-6 lanes where items may fall. The falling items are all emoji style sprites. The player’s “health” indicator is an yellow, face emoji at the bottom of the screen. Its expression changes based on the number of dangerous items the player has caught.
Main User Mechanics/Actions: Collecting/Catching items. Dodging items. Swiping input controls. These mechanics are simple and allow the player to focus more on the visual pairing of safe and dangerous items.
Levels/Environment: Procedural / Random Generation / Chance-Based Spawning
Obstacles, Interactive Elements, Enemies, Collectibles, NPCs, etc: Safe collectable items: ice cream, toys, books, electronic games, board games, sport items, etc. Dangerous collectable items: pill capsules, powders, needles, dangerous liquids, tablets, etc.
Describe and Explain the unique ways in which the game idea meets the needs of the theme, entity, AND objective: The game mechanics are simple but compelling. This enables the player to spend their energy focusing on the mental processing and sorting of “safe” items and “dangerous” items. The children in our target audience will be able to see immediate visual feedback in their avatar’s emotional state when they catch dangerous items.
Sixty seconds of play: The game starts and a 60 second game timer counts down. A curated collection of “safe” and “unsafe” objects begin to fall from the top of the screen. The player must swipe their avatar emoji left or right to either catch or avoid falling items. Your player emoji will either start to smile if you don’t collide with opioids or it will start to look sad when you touch the falling opioids.
Specific Example: You hit the play button. The game start to rain items. Your character emoji starts with a neutral 😐 face. You see a pill bottle drop into a lane. Unfortunately you don’t dodge the falling item successfully so your emoji player turns sad 😞. As soon as your emoji character collides with this item the emoji transitions. As you dodge other items such as falling pill capsules and catch safe items, your character starts to turn happy again. The actual length of the gameplay is a set timer (60 seconds), not when your character turns happy. This is to represent a simulated day in a person’s life. So when you play the game it’s trying to show you what your day can be like; either 😞 or 😄. After your “day” is over you get a review of what items you took in for the day. It shows the item and number of times you “obtained” that item. It also shows the day number.
Link to Similar Gameplay: Here – Fusion Galaxy
Link to Similar Art Style: Here
- Dangerous Item Collection Curve. We will track sequential game sessions individually and count how many “dangerous” items the player collected for each session. These values will then be translated into a graph where we can identify whether or not players are actively avoiding the items in-game. This information will tell us whether or not players are learning to avoid opioid substances.
- Information Exploration Times. We will track the amount of time per active application session that players spend viewing and reading the informational content under the “Info” menu. This information can be used to determine whether or not our players are actually displaying a learning interest in the material or simply playing the game for fun.
- Primed Dangerous Item Collection Curve. This statistic is very similar to assessment value number one. After a player shows an adequate drop in the collection of dangerous items, the game will spawn an excessive amount of dangerous items relative to safe items. From the moment of spawning these excess items, we will track how many the player catches until the game session ends. This will give us an idea of how much energy players are putting towards avoiding the dangerous items.
- Consecutive Game Sessions. We will track how many game sessions a player undergoes without closing the application. This will tell us whether or not the game is engaging enough to teach the underlying information to the audience.
Estimated length of time for development in 3 phases:
Timeline for Design/Mock-up [Phase 0]: 4 weeks
Timeline for Phase 1 Implementation [Proof of Concept]: 3-4 months
Timeline for Phase 2 Implementation [will be launched at the end]: 3-4 months
Phase 0 = 6 content experts [education, medical, outreach, opioid specific, game], 2 game designers [they will also need to create the visual mock-ups]
Phase 1 and 2 = 2 content experts [education and medical], 10-14 game team [producer, artists, programmers, designers, audio], a test team coordinator
Phase 0 = donation/volunteer/academic resources
Phase 1 = $50k + academic resources
Phase 2 = $50k + academic resources