Following the brief of a second year student of Interaction Design Arts at London University of Arts, that was presented to us in December 2016: in collaboration with Games Design students, separated in random groups of 4 or 5, we had to come up with a physical game based on a specific space within our University and present it to the open public on the 9th of February 2017.
In this Individual Evaluative Record I will give an evaluation of my own role on this Project and my experiences in an interdisciplinary scenario. Working with text, images and videos I will reflect critically and present the information using headings for a better structure and ease of reading. The beginning of my writing will constitute the evidence of research on games subject. The main part will be divided in several sections that will evaluate the stages of development of the game. In this part I will also analyse the objectives and appraisals of this collaboration project. I will finalise the Personal Evaluation with final thoughts on how the project could be improved and Conclusion.
___ What are Games? ___
Games have been part of every culture since ancient times.
First of all, games represent an escape from our “real world”.
They provide the highly necessary fast feedback on each of your action, the response that often is delayed, neglected or hidden in our everyday experiences. This allows us to feel remunerated and important in the moment when we need it.
Amongst releasing tension and improving the mood, games allow us to discover ourselves, take risks and become a better person. They help to develop problem-solving skills: think quick and make fast decisions and analyses. Games enhance creativity, memory, coordination and space orientation.
___ Who is in my group? ___
At the end of Winter Term (Friday, 9 December 2016), Year 2 students of Games Design course came to meet and be acquainted with us – Year 2 students of Interaction Games Design, in our clean studio – DLG10. We had some booze and I got to know very interesting people from that course. After some time, when most of us felt comfortable with each other, our tutors presented to us our group repartitions. From 13 groups, we got the letter D to define us and as soon as I saw that we unite 5 brilliant minds I was sure that we will come up with something worth seeing.
From IDA (Interaction Design Arts), besides me, we had Florence Zhou and Luisa Charles. From Games Design we had Cordelia Chui and Alexander de Jesus.
After a long and very emotional talk, we created a facebook group where we would chat: post ideas and updates on meeting locations and time.
When me and Luisa Charles got back to London, we meet up on 18th of January in Central Saint Martins Library. We discussed our game project objectives and setted up initial visions. First, we researched what other students from previous years did for this brief. We enjoyed the idea of it being an experience worth of remembering for those who will participate in it. There were thoughts about how amazing it would be to create a game where players don’t know that they are actually playing. We looked for some over-dimensioned alternated versions of normal physical games: huge foam die, enormous human pickers and other crazy ideas. Some of them were beyond the human rights and some were putting in danger the whole University, but we enjoyed the fun and freedom of fantasising in this proportions.
___ WHERE? ___
The game must be defined by the space it is played in. It should be created and based on the place that we choose within our University.
Initial steps for this was going around the University, discussing ideas and taking photos.
Some ideas were triggered by the amount of empty chairs and empty walls in from of them. We could entertain those who choose to sit on them, or count how many people prefer a certain chair, make teams: group of chairs against another group of chairs. Also there were ideas to make a sort of hunt for treasure with clues that lead you top another space. This idea wasn’t that good because something similar has been made before and if we would’ve taken it to the scale we wanted to it would’ve been a massive confusion and chaos.
The final decision was made on the day when we had to present our idea and space that we choose for our game, 19th of February.
We decided that our point of interest would be corridors. The space we choose is the corridor that leads to Design Block from the Upper Gallery. There is a large number of students moving through that space regularly so we would make most of them participate with a fast one-turn player game. Mainly focusing on the parallel walls, it would be a competition between two teams.
We will connect strangers by connecting TILES. We wanted to make everyone’s participation count so each of them will take a tile, will connect the centre with any 2 of the middle lateral points of the square. We thought about giving them the possibility to even sign themselves and also we wanted to make it more entertaining so we were thinking about setting scores to check-points, obstacles, candy obstacles and about the means of how to easily attach them to the walls. We wanted the player to draw his own tile but to use the tile that the person before him drew.
After the presentation we observed that the rules of the game seemed confusing and we wanted to make it more of a moment to remember for the participants, even if it meant only 5-10 seconds of their part-taking for this game. We felt the urge to play-test it!
Plus, we had to look for another 2 walls and a well-populated corridor, since the one we choose wasn’t available for our use.
Finally we choose the corridor that leads to Atrium and makes the connection between the main part of Design and Media Block. It is shown in the image above and below.
___ How was the Play Test? ___
After some of virtual group discussions we had some ideas around making it Light responsive: To make the tiles conduct electricity so the final point will light up. In doing so we proposed to use flat batteries, copper tape and LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes). In order to verify and improve the system, the Play Test would help us; it will allow us to find the problems and resolve them. In doing so we brought a prototype of this game and experimented on the minds of the First Year Interaction Design students. In doing so, we discovered that the participant would be more entertained if there will be multiple check-points – stops in between – where we have LEDs that light up, rather then a simple A-B plan. Plus, for the length and height of the walls and using the electricity at it’s maximum capacity, the batteries would conduct their energy through tape at a distance of cca 1m so, even the system “was telling” us to create multiple LED stops. Also, during the play test we found that the obstacles are needed for this game in order to force the participants to do a certain move that involves thinking rather than just randomly choosing the position of the tile.
After the Play Test we discussed the shape of the “puzzle tile”. We considered the square too simple and limited to just 4 different lines to choose from. Instead we came up with hexagon shaped tiles! This gives the players extra 2 other sides to play with.We found that any obstacles or points you have to hit need to be hexagonal, otherwise they aren’t in the right place to be hit or avoided. When you get to a dead-end situation, we found that removing 2 tiles and replacing them helps to solve the problem.
___ What about materials? ___
We also decided on the materials we need for the hexagons – A1 sheets of foam board. We bought 15 sheets of these. Laser cutting them would add around 300 £, so we decided we will cut them ourselves.
Also we bought rolls of copper foil electricity conductive adhesive tape (9,8mm(w) x30m), 3V batteries, LEDs, double sided tape to stick up the obstacles and hexagons, and white tape to cover the copper tape on the wall. Everything together cost us around 100£.
___ PRODUCTION DAY 1 ___
The first day of our production was the day we received the materials for our game, on 7th of February. We meet up in early morning in the clean studio.
We started by calculating the most efficient size of the hexagons: using most of our material (foam-board) and to be the approximate palm size, not smaller. After that we printed a few in A4 size simple paper and then started cutting one by one. Later each of us started doing it in a line production. For time saving and productivity Florence and Luisa were drawing with pen on the foam-boards the shapes of the hexagons, after that: Alex, Cordelia, me and our two super mega extra helpers: Angels Banda and Andrew Crane were cutting the hexagons.
We had our Interaction Design Arts tutors: Joel Karamath and Tobias Revell, visiting us to help with advice or just make us happy.
We cut up all foam-boards and ended up with somewhere around 550 hexagons.
Before leaving, we managed to try our first set of Hexagonal Light System and it worked perfectly.
The end of the first day was set when we needed to leave the University, that was around 8pm, so we agreed to meet up in the next morning and continue our work.
___ PRODUCTION DAY 2 ___
In the second day, 8th of February, we worked on finishing the systems and obstacles.
The first part of the day
In comparison with the previous day we separated ourselves and each one of us had something different to do.
We had 4 LED colours: Green, Yellow, Red and Blue.
For each colour we made 10 hexagons, thus 40 LED systems in total (20 for each team).
For each hexagon we used 6 LEDs => 60 LEDs of each colour.
Also we had another 40 Hexagons with batteries, that would provide power to light up the LED-hexagons.
We created, as well, 40 “domes” to cover the hexagons with LEDs. In this way the light would be dispersed uniformly and would have a greater visual impact. We looked for the different material that we could use for this and decided that the most reasonable and best option available for us is the tracing paper.
Since we had 2 teams, we decided to make the obstacles in two colours. The classical ones would be red and blue, but we discussed the option of matching them to the copper tape that we will have on the hexagons. In this way, we established two alternatives to the initial colours. Instead of red we would use Mauve and instead of blue – Turquoise.
Mixing the colours in such quantity to achieve the desired colour wasn’t as easy as I thought. While obtaining new nuances I was colouring small triangle shaped foam-board and checking with my group to see what they think about the present dyes. When everyone was content with the colour, I increased the quantity and started painting the hexagon-clusters and other bits from the left-over pieces of foam-board.
The second part of the day
In the afternoon we had to change our location into the opposite computer studio (DLG11), because of a party that was organised in the previous room.
Luisa and Andrew continued with finishing the LED hexagon cluster systems: they were using straightened paper clips as a means of fixating the hexagons next to each other, by pushing the metal inside the foam in the middle of the hexagons.
Me and Florence were fixing the red and blue dots in the middle of each side of the hexagon. We marked 250 pieces of red and another 250 of blue.
The video below is a fastened version of me working on the hexagons.
___ GAME DAY (3) ___
On the game day, 9th of February, we met up early since we were meant to have our game up between 9:30am-5:30pm.
Cordelia was taping the LED systems and the batteries and Florence was fixing the covers for the LED hexagons.
We found out that we didn’t have enough time to finish all the systems so left some of them behind, to be done later if needed be.
I was colouring the side parts of the obstacles in opalescent copper dye with a sponge and drying it with a hair drier.
I found that most of them couldn’t be adhered to the walls, they were falling down due to the lack of sustainable adhesive on the double sided tape. It was too late to search for an alternative solution to it so I used the ones that were standing: the smaller pieces.
Alex and Luisa were doing the measurements of our game in regards to the actual corridor walls and setting up the system.
Our play-show-time was fixed at 12:30
As soon as the Assessment finished, we had a lot of passers-by that wanted to play! Some of them enjoyed the game so much that they kept coming back from time to time to fit another tile. Explaining the rules of the game wasn’t very hard, most of participants were doing it intuitively, following the examples that were all over the wall. The excitement of fitting the “puzzle”, avoiding obstacles and reaching an LED hexagon was indescribable. The light that was powered up thanks to different players, it united strangers in the construction of something new, bright and impressive.
We had a second check up from our tutors and I was so happy that everything was working and that it was looking beautiful. The shapes and the lines created by the systems were very different for each of the teams.
But not everything went as well as we expected.
We had to retype with copper tape the margins of each end line on the hexagons, to bridge the gap that could still be there. There were cases when players had to re-do the previous move since there was no other way to go, for several continuous turns.
Some of the tiles were falling down due to the adhesive not matching well the surface of the wall and the foam-board. Some, in their fall, were even dragging parts of the system with them. The solution – we just fixed them with the white tape over.
We found out, that even if we calculated everything, the last hexagon before the connection to the LED light, was impossible to fit in between the other hexagons, so we just stuck it over and connected its lines to the copper tape. And TA-DA! It lightens up!
Another thing I would like to notice is that mostly groups of people were more preferable to stop and play, in comparison to individuals.
___ CONCLUSION ___
This collaboration project gave me an invaluable experience to work with a great team. Group flow requires constant communication and dedication. A good starting point is the brainstorming that we had at the start of our project. The dedication, the willingness to accept and be open to changes or alternative solutions, the burst of ideas and their fuelling improves a team and makes it stronger.
I love LIGHT and creating something that gives light. But I never thought it could be manipulated as easily, as safe and as playfully as it was handled for our game project.
Thanks to this project I became more flexible and open to criticism and new ideas. I learned to be more patient and a better listener. It expanded my understanding of the importance of a collaborative work.
A lot of players of all ages, nationalities and genders that were passing the corridor engaged into our game and had a very good time while doing so, judging by their big smile every time. The downs of our project were solved with ease each time, and, the most important thing, everything was working in the end!