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 active play time in a child’s day. Even young adults stand to benefit from the social interactions that active social play experiences foster.

Many of my clients—from toy companies to children’s museums—have asked how they could leverage technology to create new kinds of play experiences that keep children physically active and mentally engaged in social activities.

The Brief

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

  • Create an active-play initiative to prototype low-cost game concepts and technologies for both prospective and existing clients.

  • Conduct research to understand how people might engage in active play through their different abilities and a broad range of social contexts.

  • Collaborate with our clients’ core audiences and stakeholders by conducting play-test workshops at schools and community spaces.

The Results

  • We conducted community-based qualitative research, and prototyped mixed-reality play experiences for consumer product designs and community programs for cultural institutions.

  • We leveraged our play-test workshops for multiple storytelling purposes, including marketing and social media, new business development, and concept designs for clients.

  • 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.

Roles

  • 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.