Dream Toy Part 1

Interview protocol

Emerson, we are going to design a toy for you together. Before we start designing, I need to ask you several questions. Can you help me answer these questions?

  1. Can you show me the things that you like to play? Why do you like it?
  2. What is your favorite cartoon character? Why?
  3. What is your favorite color?
  4. Do you prefer soft or hard toy?
  5. Is there something that you particularly don’t like? Or something that I need to know about designing the toy for you?
  6. Take a look at these tools, what are something that you can make out of these materials?
  7. What subject do you like most at school?
  8. What is the thing that you wish you can get better at?
  9. If you can unlock one skill, what skill is that?
  10. Let’s draw out some ideas we have for the design.

A summary of the interview notes:

Emerson: 7 years old, Grade 1

Emerson and his sister were finishing their dinner at home when Nicola and I arrived. It took us around 30 minutes to encourage them to eat before we could begin the interview. I have known Emerson for about 4 years and I think we get along well. He was very comfortable being silly around me and was very playful when we began the interview. We sat at the dining table and sometimes he would sit or roll on the floor. Emerson’s favorite color is yellow. His favorite characters are from the show “Octonauts.” If he can unlock a new skill, he wanted to know how to climb a tree. He loves the game “Little Big Planet 3,” “Rayman Legends” and “Super Mario Party.” He likes the Super Marios Party because it is like a board game and it is fun. I think Emerson must really like the PlayStation’s Little Big Planet 3 mainly because it is the game that he has been talking about since I knew him (he always has new game or characters that he like every time I met him). Emerson likes the game because “there are a lot of stuff in there and a lot of items.” Little Big Planet 3 is a platform building game … His favorite character is Sackboy. We were looking on the interest to see his favorite characters from Little Big Planet 3 and Super Mario Party, and Emerson said “we should make a Little Big Planet 3 Make Set” I got very interested in his idea and got him a piece of paper so that we can start drawing. He said “I can make little levels for Sackboy. I like drawing.” He asked if I want to level to be “hard, normal, or easy.” Then he started to draw a platform game with multiple obstacles. He asked if I wanted a “skateboard level” and drew skateboard on the paper. I came up with an idea of a physical Little Big Planet game set which he can physically design his own levels and obstacle. We ended up playing Little Big Planet for the last 30 minutes. He showed me how the game worked.

Interview Video Link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1L4rOEINnFKZ_qCtlRaZfiRwcubfFKWmG/view?usp=sharing

Game Play Video


IMG_20190215_192604 (1)
Emerson is my co-designer!
IMG_20190215_200814 (1)
Our plan
Emerson showed me Little Big Planet on the Play Station

A description of the initial idea(s) for the dream toy

  • What toy/toolkit did you and the kid converge on?
    • A physical game for building and designing a game platform game.
  • What are the learning goals of the toy?
    • Be able to design different variations of the game by himself.
    • Problem solve Grade 1 math concepts with the game design. (I will have a set “Newton Cards” (Newton is the bad guy in Little Big Planet 3) as design prompt/ challenge for him to create a platform game. Specifically shapes, addition, subtraction, units, and measurement. More info common core: http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Content/1/introduction/
  • What design decisions did you make about the toy/toolkit, and why?
    • Kids can express themselves and create their own platform on the gameplay in the digital Little Big Planet 3. I want to create a game that is opened for Emerson to express himself and be creative with his design. Since “Little Big Planet 3” is his favorite game, he was very particular with the correctness of the items or characters in the games, I wanted to keep those major elements. Additionally, I want to design the game with the constructionist principle where he can playfully explore different elements of his own design alone or with peers. I also want to use this opportunity to have him explore basic math concepts.
  • Are you going to incorporate 3D fabrication into your toy or in your omni animal? If so, how?
    • Game suitcase: woodshop, laser cutter
    • Items in the game: laser cutter, 3D printing
    • Obstacle: woodshop, craft materials
    • Cards: photoshop

Reflective conclusion

  • How do your decisions for medium (virtual, physical, etc.), format (game, puzzle, free, tutorial, etc.) and interaction possibilities align with the learning goals?
    • The physical Little Big Planet set can help a child to learn essential math skills, particularly shapes, measurement, and basic arithmetic through prompts that will lead him to design a platform game.
  • What did you learn from the process about the kid, about the process itself, etc
    • It requires some flexibility when interviewing young children. The interview protocol is useful but not the most important. Sometimes emergent conversation or unexpected interaction is more helpful in working and understanding young participants. For Emerson, he wasn’t responsive in answering my interview questions but when I asked him to show me the games he likes or have him draw, he was very excited and engaged. He wanted to take a more active role in the interview.
  • What will you change when you do user research for your final project?
    • I will definitely be more flexible in the interview and make sure I ask a lot of “Why?” for further insights in understanding the needs of my users.

Photo on 2-15-19 at 6.21 PM