This was initially a slow week for me, but it picked up quickly. I spent time in Toronto for a conference and therefore wasn’t able to focus much on my thesis early in the week. However, things ramped up later.
Answering important questions
Part of my time was spent answering questions that were previously unanswered:
- Can you pick your gender in the game? I’d rather the game be gender-neutral regarding the player. In an ideal world, the player’s gender wouldn’t matter.
- Will the personality quiz stay in the game? Yes, I’d still like the player to start the game with a personality quiz. This quiz will be part of their RA orientation.
Detailed written outline
I wrote a fairly detailed outline last week, so I spent this week working on refining it. It’s a bit clearer than before, I hope! You can read it as a PDF.
I updated the prototype to include a cold start, user info, and settings area. The cold start allows people to take the quiz. The user info area is where people can see their current personality type and retake the quiz at will. Click around the prototype below to see the interactions.
Thesis advisor meeting
I met with my thesis advisor, Frank Lantz. He gave me a lot of helpful feedback. Based on his feedback, I’ve decided to focus on the narrative over the game mechanics for now.
The game has a chance to positively affect a lot of people, which means it needs to be very accessible. It should feel enough like other games to attract young people while also feeling somewhat new. Frank’s suggestion was 80% familiar, 20% innovative. This also helps to reduce my workload, as I’m not doing everything from scratch.
Frank also really liked the interaction design of the prototype above. The concept of communicating with characters mostly through text messages while occasionally experiencing short narrative scenes seemed exciting to him. This and other feedback he shared made me feel very inspired!
For our next meeting, I need to have a:
- List of references and comparisons to games young people play
- Diagram of interface screens and the flow between them
- Story arc diagram
I’m working on all of these as soon as possible.
I also attended my bi-weekly narrative design independent study class. During this session, we discussed character conflict. Here are the conflicts I listed for my character and students at the school:
- Living in cramped spaces with people you don’t know
- Not knowing things required to help people with their problems
- There are so little places to go on campus
- Being in a new town
- Class differences
- College vs. town
- Being forced to learn things you don’t like or care about in required classes
- Inter-major superiority/inferiority
- Being an authority figure over your peers
- Feeling alone
- Frats and school clubs
- School parties
- Dorm parties
- Sports events
- Personality differences
- Cultural differences
- Language difference
- Education level differences
- Drugs & alcohol
- Friends with benefits
- Non-consentual touching
- Social anxiety
- Unsure of life direction
- Feeling unattractive
- Failing classes
- Impostor syndrome
- Unrequited feelings
For next class, I’ll have to flesh out details about the school itself, as well as the characters who will inhabit the school and interact with the player. I have a lot of questions to answer!
The RA questionnaire has been going well. It has 34 responses so far. I want to get 50 responses by Friday night so I can analyze the data on Saturday.
In addition to the questionnaire, I also interviewed someone in person about their experience. Their personal anecdotes were very helpful for understanding what life is like for RAs.
Interesting points from the interview
- Everyone had to live on campus for at least 3 years at their school.
- RA deeds were: walking duty, desk duty, community-building.
- RAs in the same building met weekly.
- All RAs met monthly for dinner, events, and training.
- New RAs were mentored by either staff or more senior RAs in order to prevent the feeling of being overwhelmed.
- RAs were often the first person new students would consult at school.
- Information from orientations and trainings immensely helped RAs to resolve problems.
- RAs usually resolve problems by getting people to make their own decisions, while helping to make them feel like they’re in a safe space.
- Some RAs didn’t see emotional assistance as part of their job and would refuse to advise.
I plan to conduct at least one more interview this week.
That’s what I’ve been up to this week. Phew! Until next time.