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Inspiration

I am interested in encouraging learning in the world's youth, and discovering new ways to create engaging educational experiences for kids to pave the way for a better future. I believe that the diversity of animals in their behaviors and characteristics makes them exciting to learn about. I wanted not just to make a game that is fun to play, but one that allows kids to learn.

What it does

Guess the Animal Game is an interactive guessing game that is perfect for kids (and adults) to have fun and learn about animals. Alexa gives a description of an animal and you have to guess what animal it describes.

Difficulty Level
Once a user says they are ready to play the game, Alexa asks what difficulty level they would like. The choices are easy, medium, or hard. The differences between the difficulty levels are in both the description of the animal, and the animal name itself. As the difficulty gets harder, the animals become less commonly known to kids and the descriptions become less obvious. Here are examples:

  • easy: A farm animal that likes to roll around in the mud to cool off. (Answer: pig)
  • medium: This animal is the largest of South America's big cats. Its fur is tan with black spots and it enjoys swimming. (Answer: jaguar)
  • hard: a South American animal that resembles a giant, long-legged guinea pig. It lives in groups near water and is the largest living rodent. (Answer: capybara)

Hints
If the user guesses the animal incorrectly, Alexa will repeat the description and/or give a hint to help guide the user to the correct answer.

Example for pig:

  • Sorry, that is incorrect. Here is a hint: it is a mammal.
  • Oops, that is not correct. Here is the description to guess again: A farm animal that likes to roll in the mud to cool off.
  • Nice try, but that is not correct. Here is another hint, it starts with a P.

Facts
Once the user guesses correctly, or is given the answer, you can all Alexa for a fun fact about the animal.

How I built it

I used Node JS,the Alexa Skills Kit, and AWS Lambda to host the code.

Challenges I ran into

I realized very quickly that it is more challenging than you would think to write descriptions of animals that give enough information that it could be guessed, but also not enough that it would be guessed too easily. It was also a challenge to write descriptions that coincided with the different difficulty levels appropriately.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

As someone who does not consider themselves a programmer, I am proud of learning a new programming language. I am also proud of making a game that is fun to play.

What I learned

In the process of creating the game I learned of the differences between making a game geared towards kids as opposed to adults. I developed a different skill for Alexa, Animal Guessing Game, that is more for adults. I realized that for kids to enjoy the game more, many modifications would need to be made. For example, I added more encouraging phrases when Alexa answers, I added difficulty levels so that kids of different ages have an easier time playing at the skill level they want. I also added facts for each animal to keep kids more interested, excited, and engaged.

In order for the skill to have many different animals, I needed to do extensive research. This led me to become more knowledgeable about animals and can list off random facts for over 100 animals.

What's next for Guess the Animal Game

Guess the Animal Game will continue to evolve and improve. I thoroughly enjoyed developing this game and I look forward to expanding its functionality. I will continue to add new animals and facts to the skill so that users never run out of animals to guess from. I also plan to implement a scoring system to help motivate kids and give them more of a sense of accomplish for guessing correctly. I also think it would be vertu beneficial to add a dictionary to the skill to enable kids to ask Alexa to define any words they do not understand.

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