Case One:
How to Mix Active Play with Digital Life

Most of my neighbors have young children, which makes our street in Evanston a kid-friendly play zone in warmer months. But for many, finding opportunities to play with others is difficult. Digital devices and test-driven school curricula can easily reduce physical and creative play time in a child’s day. Even teens and college students stand to benefit from active play, especially in problem-solving disciplines like engineering.

Many of our clients—from toy companies to children’s museums—have asked how to leverage technology to create new kinds of active play experiences that keep their customers engaged.


The Brief

  • Demonstrate our capabilities in game design to cultivate new clients and projects across industries.

  • Prototype low-cost active-play game concepts and technologies for both prospective and existing clients.

  • Provide data about how people engage in active play through their different abilities and a broad range of social contexts.

  • Identify tech-enabled enhancements that fuel surprise, strategy, and excitement to make players want more.

  • Conduct real-world play tests of best prototypes with core audiences at schools and community spaces.


The Results

  • We conducted community-engaged research for products and programs in both public and private sectors.

  • We prototyped mixed-reality play experiences with our clients’ core audiences in multiple spaces and contexts.

  • We leveraged prototypes for marketing, including social media, press story pitches, awards submissions, and concept designs for client proposals.

  • Our work led to a spinoff startup that creates new products and revenue in the active play space, including a multi-player video game theatre for theme parks, sports arenas, and retail centers.



  • Coordinating and maintaining strategic partnerships with corporations, community groups, and universities.

  • Identifying and meeting with potential sponsors and donors.

  • Planning and leading client and stakeholder meetings, interviews, and planning sessions.

  • Performing contextual inquires in stakeholder schools and neighborhood centers.

  • Designing and producing a survey of 400+ community residents and potential partners.

  • Conducting user field tests and prototyping workshops.

  • Designing and leading focus groups.

  • Managing team processes and resource planning.

  • Writing design documents, scripts, and presentations.

  • Art direction and storyboarding.

Above: A play-test video that we created for a children’s museum design in a planned mixed-use development in the Fort Totten neighborhood of Washington, DC.


Above: A series of concept diagrams that we created for major toy manufacturers to pitch ideas for technology-augmented play toys and experiences.


Above: A video that I created with ESI designers and undergraduate students at Bucknell University to prototype spaces and media for active gaming experiences.