Game Design

“Use gamification in a solution that helps with the issue of inter-generational trauma among native communities in Northern Ontario”

My solution

Most teams went the same route by adding badges to therapy apps, or in adding leaderboards to existing concepts. I chose to go a riskier route and tried to nurture a sense of belonging back into these children through story in the form of an exploratory game. I attempted to make gamification the solution as opposed to using it to redirect them.

Story is how we communicate, when we talk it’s through story because it’s how we convey emotion and emotion is powerful. We can’t force information into people so I was suggesting something a lot more nuanced, to weave history and culture into explorative gameplay so that the child can live their history through play. Play gives us so many tools for conveying stories, stories about myths and legends and history… both the good and the bad. All of these provide a lot of content to build a powerful story, but, more importantly, they are very good for embedding lessons and messages the player finds for themselves. You can introduce a character or entity that represents their community and through story, not only teach them but instill a sense of belonging and maybe even pride. The best part of it all is that story is already integral to the native culture and already was how they spread their culture. I was simply attempting to marry age old tradition with modern technology.

The risk

Using gamification to help with inter-generational trauma in northern native communities is not a task to be taken lightly, especially if you are trying to make a story out of it. A lot of research has to go into making sure you don’t offend anybody and that you are being accurate. Additionally your entire project hinges on you making a good story, Searcher was made with the assumption that if it ever got big a lot of funding would go into bringing actual native people on the team to oversee the accuracy of the story.

Test plan

A detailed test plan is always important for the development of any product, but because of the delicate nature of the project it was integral that the test plan be airtight. It can be found here.

Animation

However i still needed content to make the animation so to create the story and storyboard I researched the lore and gods of the communities. I kept the names and the integrity of the story when making my trailer and worked with my teammates to keep a consistent art style throughout the poster, the animation, the website and all the rest of our materials.I made the entire animation from scratch using a variety of different techniques I learned during this project and also experimented with new software. The most novel part of this project was in rendering realistic landscapes using Vue Xstream 10 which is industry level software they use to generate landscapes for movies such as “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Avatar.” The rest of the character rigging was done with an after effects plugin called duik and the rest of the animation itself was either done on After Effects or with cell animation on Photoshop. The last step was to record and edit all the sounds with audition and then to composite everything together in Premiere Pro.

Managing a team

As my idea required a lot more work than a traditional route AND it was risky, the first obstacle was in convincing my team to go along with it because one person in particular was scared to fail and didn’t like games to begin with. For him to be comfortable I had to assure him I would take full responsibility for the success (or failure) of this project. Then came the juggling of my team members and giving them work that best suited their skills. As well as making sure everything was cohesive and in sync while also not micromanaging. I worked with them to come up with a  dynamic gantt chart that we referred back to and proved to be incredibly useful in keeping our team on track and coordinated.

I very much let my team members do their work and take initiative where they saw necessary and just made sure the vision was kept intact. The final result was truly rewarding because our professor said it was “the highest quality term project [he] had seen to date” and we got a really high mark on it too while impressing the rest of our classmates.

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  • Skills:
    • After Effects
    • Audition
    • Leadership
    • Organization
    • Photoshop
    • Premier Pro
    • Project Management
    • Vue Xstream 10
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