GOAL:  design create a game that tackles the current political climate by exposing personal bias and promote understanding of other people's political beliefs

Political Games

Spring 2017 - Indiana University

 MY ROLE:  conduct interviews, play and research PeaceMaker, sketch low-fidelity mockups, conduct usability testing, sketch mid-fidelity wireframes, conduct A/B usability testing

Brief

Ever since the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections concluded, it has been obvious to many Americans that the country is divided and that one side neither understands nor listens to the issues of the other. Schell games would like you to work with their contact Elaine to create a game that would facilitate conversation and understanding among diverse populations of Americans, creating a more empathic citizenry, using the game PeaceMaker as inspiration. The brief is broken down into two parts; the first was to build upon PeaceMaker itself, redesigning it to be more usable. The second part involved creating our own game reflecting the same subject of political divide, but this time in the problem space of the United States. Final deliverables will be low-fidelity sketched screens. 

Process

SECONDARY + PRIMARY 

RESEARCH

AFFINITY

DIAGRAMMING

PERSONA

CREATION

INITIAL

SKETCHES

USER TESTING & ITERATIONS

PROPOSED

SOLUTION

SECONDARY + PRIMARY RESEARCH

Our primary and secondary research focused on playing the game PeaceMaker to understand the context behind the Palestinian and Israeli conflict, and understand the game mechanisms. 

PeaceMaker focuses on managing a real life conflict between two countries, and at the beginning, the player can decide to be the leader of Israel or of Palestine, which changes gameplay. The goal is ultimately to achieve peace between the two nations. We took these main game concepts into consideration while designing a game aimed at the political divide in the United States. Our team also conducted an interview with the maker of the game, Asi Burak, to understand his thought process in creating it. We recruited two participants to play the game as it exists, and recorded their pain points and successes. 

AFFINITY DIAGRAMMING

We were required to follow the “Lenses” protocol developed by Valerie Casey. This allowed us to frame our problem and build upon brainstorming.

PERSONA CREATION

Our personas embodied the deep difference in opinions among conservative and liberal values, in order to better frame the context of our game, and the extreme viewpoints that could be brought in by viewer

SCENARIO

Megan is a strong, determined, liberal African American woman from Portland, Oregon. She works as a researcher at Portland State University, studying marine biology. In her spare time, Megan rides her bike around Portland’s many bike trails and attends rallies for social activism. She also has a blog where she discusses news and research within the field of marine biology. 

“I like playing games, and I like a good challenge - I'm not afraid to argue politics!”

NEEDS

Academically oriented with strong opinions

Megan Schmidt, liberal voter

FRUSTRATIONS

- to stay engaged with the game,

  especially when she disagrees with an 

  opinion expressed in the game

- to have her voice heard

- a lack of relatable perspectives in the

   game 

- unsure how to "win"

SCENARIO

Eric comes from the small town in Kentucky, and considers himself to be an upstanding member of the primarily conservative Christian community. He works at the local auto parts store as the head manager. In his spare time, Eric enjoys sports and playing games with his kids. He  frequently spends Sunday afternoons watching football with friends from church. 

- not very interested in understanding the 

   different opinions in the game

- gameplay is slightly too difficult to follow

- to stay engaged with the game,

  especially when he disagrees with an 

  opinion expressed in the game

- simplicity and a social element

FRUSTRATIONS

Eric Johnson, conservative voter

Family oriented with strong opinions

NEEDS

"I follow politics regularly, and when I play games on my phone, I like to play against my kids.”

INITIAL SKETCHES

Our first sketches were largely modeled after the current PeaceMaker game model, and we later transitioned into sketching major gameplay interactions and features for our future game proposal.

Sketching was a process with multiple iterations done after playing the game, interviewing the game creator, and discussing progress with our Schell games contact, Elaine. Our initial sketches laid the foundation for user testing and iterations upon a more original design.

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