Describe The Problem:
With many schools returning in the Fall, proper adherence to social distancing measures and proper hygiene has never been more important. While younger children have been observed to experience less severe symptoms, they still have the potential to transmit COVID-19 to the adults in their lives (from teachers to parents and extended family). Younger children are less likely to understand the pandemic, the purpose behind many pandemic measures, and how to remain safe in public spaces.
Additionally, under stay-at-home measures, many children may need an outlet for socializing with friends, and parents may be too overwhelmed with their other duties to fully explain the details of COVID-19 and may not be able to supervise their children at all times.
How can we remind young children of what the right measures are, convince them of their importance, all while those young children may be in unfamiliar situations and different public spaces?
Why did you pick this solution and how does it address the problem?
We believe we can best convey information and best practices in the format of a game. Delivery of COVID-19 information should be interactive, colorful, sparse-in-words, while consequences and results (by playing with parameters) should be visual.
Players travel around a map, exploring various scenarios to learn about COVID-19. This helps create necessary associations. Tasks are presented in a chapter system, to gradually teach more specific information.
By using an in-game currency incentive system that rewards learning and penalizes guessing, we ensure that the game is an active, effective learning experience. This currency can be used to customize characters and results can be shared among friends through the leaderboard and social media functions.
We provide the means for communication among friends, but give parents strict content control for the safest experience. Our goal was to incorporate pastel colors and friendly design to make the game a positive, comfortable, potentially social learning experience on a serious topic.
Link to full figma design
Link to Low/medium-fidelity
Link to High-fidelity
During the pandemic, children are isolated at home with limited social interactions and don’t know what’s going on around the world
How might we use positive reinforcements to educate young children about the pandemic?
We will need to:
Educate young children about the pandemic and how they should act about it. Use engaging approaches, easy procedure, engaging with friends
Design a game for children to learn lessons about the pandemic, get rewards for practicing self-care, and enjoy remote socialization with friends in the game. We intend for this game to partially take the role of a virtual museum: users are encouraged to discover and explore items and “exhibits”. Demos are present in the game to visually convey the results of social distancing procedures.
With school returning in the Fall, the importance of maintaining social distancing measures has never been greater. Although children may not experience the most severe symptoms, their communities and the adults (from teachers, parents, to elders) are all still at risk. We intend this app to reinforce the importance of social distancing and hygiene measures to children (< 5th grade) in a positive way, showing them that everyone must provide a contribution during a pandemic.
1st - 5th grade students
How our app meets the needs of various audience:
- For kids: fun gaming and learning experience, help form good habits
- For parents: educate kids about the pandemic
- For schools: prepare kids for school reopening, protect teachers/kids/parents
- For general public: reduce the virus transmission by kids
Article on keeping kids healthy and calm at home during quarantine https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID-19/Pages/Parenting-in-a-Pandemic.aspx
CDC article about talking with children about COVID-19 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/talking-with-children.html
Mayo clinic - children don’t show symptoms as severe as adults/infants/elderly https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-in-babies-and-children/art-20484405
https://www.starlight.org/stories/we-are-still-delivering-happiness/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=adgrant&utm_campaign=Search_Google_Grant_NonBrand_Blog_MC&c_src=GoogleAdGrant&c_src2=Search_Google_Grant_NonBrand_Blog_MC_how%20to%20talk%20to%20your%20kids%20about%20covid-19&utm_source=google&utm_medium=adgrant&utm_campaign=Search_Google_Grant_NonBrand_Blog_MC&c_src=GoogleAdGrant&c_src2=Search_Google_Grant_NonBrand_Blog_MC_how%20to%20talk%20to%20your%20kids%20about%20covid-19&gclid=CjwKCAjwsO_4BRBBEiwAyagRTXACtjtKb629zvV__MDhJ_j7vc1ZODokgoFprK9zazmTLddxg8uh5hoCre8QAvD_BwE (article about how to friendly talk about covid to kids)
ThinkNinja - a mental health app for children (users spiked during covid) https://pharmaphorum.com/news/kids-mental-health-app-sees-spike-in-users-in-covid-19-crisis/ Their Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pY36_kxIB0
Journey game that follows children to their home, school, bus (transportation), sports club, public spaces etc. Missions separated by journal entries Travel to relevant locations with the map “Backpack of Essentials” - survival kits, check list, bandana, cloth masks N95,...etc Learn elements of vaccine development Ventilators Infographics: conceptually how social distancing works, herd immunity, purpose of masks, how transmission happens (air, touch, etc.)
Decided to use pastel, warm colors to attract children
Goals & Scalability:
The first few levels (chapters) are meant to educate children on general best practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. Later chapters are more niche and introduce concepts (at the appropriate level) such as the vaccine development process or tools such as ventilators.
Throughout the gameplay process, we approach the educational aspect of the game by teaching with play. Pop-up demos should be hands-on, colorful, and results and consequences should be highly visual.
Some demo ideas include:
Transmission rates with cloth masks: let player choose on carrier, non-carrier, or both, and watch the status bar on transmission likelihood change Effects of social distancing: many people find a physics analogy to social distancing helpful: (eg: position of many mousetraps and dropping a ping pong ball to see how many spring). The player can choose distance between people and then run a corresponding simulation on infection rates. A guessing game on commonly missed areas while washing hands (guess the most missed area, second most,...etc). Side by side comparisons of masks, sanitizing fluids
Teach Situational Associations
We include relevant locations that many students may encounter on the map (e.g. school, friend’s house, airport). This helps a young audience discover best practices in a wide variety of situations they may find themselves in. During the COVID-19 pandemic, certain sites and actions may have the highest transmission rates, so this app can inform users of what to avoid.
How (relatively) safe is checking out a library book? The schoolbus? How about using a water fountain or going to the store? Going to the airport?
Safety, Privacy, and Online Features for Young Children:
- Since this app is intended to target the younger audience, we include many features to protect them in regards to privacy, online usage, and their safety.
- Instead of having children choose their profile picture for the game, we are defaulting them to create their own avatar by using the designs we have.
- By default, parents are asked to maintain a list and approve for new friends. Parents can also cap the use time of online features such as chat and videochat.
- All missions that involve online features can instead be verified by a parent instead.
- Additionally, an advanced implementation can use a CNN to identify a face mask or other similar objectives to save time for a fully-offline, no assistance needed experience.
Making the Game Yours
An in-game store can be added to personalize avatars. We can add the ability to customize or even design cosmetics (à la animal crossing). At its base, this game partly builds on the design of an eye-spy game where items can be partially hidden. While our demo has a thin white border highlighting items, we can increase or decrease the border with different difficulty levels.
For our game, we would like to emphasize on the positive reinforcements we designed to engage kids with the game and drive them forward in the game. The main incentive is the currency rewards which kids gain by completing tasks and following the tutorial correctly. The currency leaderboard would be displayed among friends to see who is collecting the most. Besides, we have built in conversations for users to interact with NPC from different occupations (e.g. teachers, doctors, officers), and they would be encouraging the users to follow with the task flow. We also designed a friend collaboration system, where users can complete tasks with their friends, text them, and even video call them. During the social distancing and quarantine, we believe that online gaming and video calling would be a great approach to help kids interact with each other.