All posts by Zan Chandler

ideaBOOST Case Studies: Focus Group – Ghost Town Project

Focus Groups

Author: Zan Chandler

Lead Facilitators: Ina Fichman, Eric Blais, Theresa Kowall-Shipp

Overview:

The Ghost Town Project, Intuitive Pictures

The Ghost Town Project (GTP) is a multi-platform initiative where online engagement has real world implications and influence. The project brings online communities, locals and experts together to help rebuild and restore landmark buildings in different locations. Ghost Town Project seeks to uncover the intimate story of how and why a site was abandoned, and also look to the future with the help of a restoration team of historians, architects and conservationists.

From the fall 2012 until spring 2013, The Ghost Town Project was one of seven teams to participate in the CFC Media Lab’s digital entertainment accelerator, ideaBOOST. The program employs the best practices from tech’s lean startup movement and other disciplines. The program’s goal is to help companies navigate the entertainment and technology startup market, sharpen their product vision, and refine their strategies to target audiences and generate sustainable revenues. As part of this program, the teams were exposed to a number of participatory design techniques. Each team made use of several techniques in order to further the development of their projects.

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A Focus Group was used to inform the learning and discovery phase of the Ghost Town Project. This method enabled the team to gain valuable feedback on their project, its name and possible sites for revitalization. 

Participants:

Participants in the Focus Group were members of the general public who had expressed an interest in the restoration of old or abandoned sites. Many of the participants were members of GTP’s Facebook group.

Supportive methods:

The Ghost Town Project’s 3-hour Focus Group included the use of three other methods: Brainstorming, Survey and Make Tools.

Goals:

The Ghost Town Project was in the early stages of development when this Focus Group session took place. In order to refine the core concept and proposed direction, the team needed to understand whether audiences might be interested in actively participating the revitalization and restoration of old or abandoned sites. Additionally, they wanted to understanding whether that interest extended to sites that were located outside participants’ own geographic regions. The Ghost Town Project had been a working title for the project and the team wanted to find its ultimate name.  As the project called for the revitalization of multiple sites, the team needed to determine the best ways of choosing future sites and then choose the first official site for The Ghost Town Project.

Process summary:

Members of the public were invited to participate in a 3-hour Focus Group in which they would explore the development of a show centred around revitalizing and restoring old and abandoned sites. Over the course of the Focus Group, the GTP team made use of three other participatory design methods: Brainstorming, Survey and Make Tools.

After being introduced to the Ghost Town Project team members, the Focus Group participants were shown a video trailer and given an overview of the history of the project, how it had evolved and what the team was trying to achieve. Next, the team led the participants through an exercise to name the project. Ghost Town Project had been the working title and the team was prepared to rename it if another name proved more attractive to the Focus Group participants. They were provided with a list of the top names from a previous Facebook poll. The team moderated a discussion of the names on the list and then participants were asked to indicate how they felt about each name on the list. They then ranked the names in order of attractiveness.

A Brainstorming session followed where participants suggested potential sites for revitalization. These were added to a list of sites that had already been identified by the team. For each site, the group discussed levels of interest in the site, its history, and interest in participating in the revitalization process. The team and participants then selected the first site to be revitalized.

The final segment of the Focus Group was dedicated to the Make Tools session. For this session, the group was divided into two groups and seated at two large tables. Facilitated by team members, each group worked with copies of architectural drawings of the Heidelberg Inn in Keansburg, New Jersey and contributed design ideas for its revitalization.

Images or diagrams:

Introduction to Ghost Town Project

Focus Group participants watch on while team members describe the Ghost Town Project.

Make Tools

During the Make Tools session, participants work together to imagine redesigns for the Heidelberg Inn, in Keansburg, New Jersey.

A participant fills out the name survey

A participant fills out the name survey

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A participant fills in the name survey

Introduction video to the Heidelbery Inn at Keansburg Amusement Park in New Jersey.

Booster Day Agenda

GTP sites survey 

Results:

The feedback the GTP team received during the Focus Group played an important role furthering the conceptualization and design of the project. By the end of the Focus Group, participants confirmed that as long as potential sites had a significant history, fostered compelling storytelling and already had an actively engaged local community, distributed audiences would be willing to invest time and effort in supporting the revitalization of that site. The opportunity to collaborate with experts on the redesign of sites  also proved to be an important factor in establishing a sense of connection with the site for distributed audiences.

Outcomes:

During the Focus Group, in addition to identifying a number of potential sites for future restoration projects, the participants created clear criteria for choosing future sites. Participants also declared that the team’s working title – The Ghost Town Project – was the best name to go forward with for this project. The Heidelberg Inn at the Keansburg Amusement Park in New Jersey, USA, was chosen as the first revitalization site for the Ghost Town Project.

 

ideaBOOST is the CFC Media Lab’s accelerator that emphasizes Audience Engagement for entertainment platform development. This case study was prepared for the ASTOUND initiative, a partnership between the CFC, HotDocs, and OCAD University.

ideaBOOST Case Studies: Focus Group – AsapSCIENCE

Focus Groups

Author: Zan Chandler

Lead facilitator: Mitch Moffit

Overview:

AsapSCIENCE

AsapSCIENCE is an educational and entertaining resource for curious minds of all ages to understand the science in their own lives. It uses engaging aesthetics and relatable topics to capture the imagination of its viewers, and create an online community of scientific curiosity, questioning, and learning. While primarily through online video, AsapSCIENCE engages and entertains through social media, written literature, and web-based content. Overall, AsapSCIENCE provides an alternative to traditional learning in science by focusing on quirky, real-life scenarios that people can learn through.

From the fall 2012 until spring 2013, AsapSCIENCE was one of seven teams to participate in the CFC Media Lab’s digital entertainment accelerator, ideaBOOST. The program employs the best practices from tech’s lean startup movement and other disciplines. The program’s goal is to help companies navigate the entertainment and technology startup market, sharpen their product vision, and refine their strategies to target audiences and generate sustainable revenues. As part of this program, the teams were exposed to a number of participatory design techniques. Each team made use of several techniques in order to further the development of their projects.

Method:

The AsapSCIENCE team adapted the traditional Focus Group method and conducted an online Question & Answer session via Google Hangout. AsapSCIENCE was an established concept, with a large following, when it entered the ideaBOOST program. As a result, this adapted Focus Group served to support the Evaluation phase of the innovation process.

Participants:

Participants in the Focus Group were existing fans of AsapSCIENCE, and included subscribers to their YouTube channel, Twitter followers, and Facebook page fans.

Supportive methods:

In conjunction with the Focus Group, the AsapSCIENCE team also conducted a Survey.

Goals:

A key question on the mind of AsapSCIENCE team revolved around their audience’s comfort with the integration of advertising and sponsorship. As they already had a broad and committed fan base they did not want to risk offending their fans by introducing revenue generation in a way that was too intrusive to the experience. They needed to understand how their fans would react to the ways in which both advertising and sponsorship were being brought into the mix. As AsapSCIENCE lives online, and fans exist around the globe, an adaptation of the method, held online would enable the team to gather feedback from a large group of their fans and circumvent the impracticality of bringing fans together for an in person Focus Group.

Process summary:

The team announced across all their distribution and engagement platforms that they would be holding an online Q & A session on January 19, 2013 using Google Hangout. On the morning of the Q & A, they announced they were also releasing a survey online. Fans were asked to complete the survey and participate in the Q & A by posing questions on the Hangout, on Facebook or on Twitter. The Hangout lasted approximately 60 minutes, during which time the team fielded questions about AsapSCIENCE’s genesis, its host and creators, and solicited suggestions for future videos.

Images or diagrams:

 AsapSCIENCE Online Focus Group

The survey that AsapSCIENCE’s team launched in conjunction with the online Focus Group on Google Hangout.

Results:

In addition to receiving a very strong response to the survey, over 800 responses in a short period of time, the AsapSCIENCE team also had a very large fan turn out to the Q & A. The team learned that fans were happy with the frequency of their video postings (~once a week), and were open to AsapSCIENCE making use of advertising as long as it wasn’t too intrusive.

Outcomes:

They also learned that fans responded really well to seeing Mitch, the narrator, on screen. Until that point, they’d only heard his voice and seen his hands during the animations.

 

ideaBOOST is the CFC Media Lab’s accelerator that emphasizes Audience Engagement for entertainment platform development. This case study was prepared for the ASTOUND initiative, a partnership between the CFC, HotDocs, and OCAD University.

ideaBOOST Case Studies: Brainstorming – Ghost Town Project

Brainstorming

Author: Zan Chandler

Lead Facilitators: Ina Fichman, Eric Blais, Theresa Kowall-Shipp

Overview:

The Ghost Town ProjectIntuitive Pictures

The Ghost Town Project (GTP) is a multi-platform initiative where online engagement has real world implications and influence. The project brings online communities, locals and experts together to rebuild and restore landmark buildings in different locations. Ghost Town Project uncovers the intimate story of how and why a site was abandoned, and also looks to the future with the help of a restoration team of historians, architects and conservationists.

From the fall 2012 until spring 2013, Intuitive Pictures’ The Ghost Town Project was one of seven projects to participate in the CFC Media Lab’s digital entertainment accelerator, ideaBOOST. The program employs the best practices from tech’s lean startup movement and other disciplines. The program’s goal is to help companies navigate the entertainment and technology startup market, sharpen their product vision, and refine their strategies to target audiences and generate sustainable revenues. As part of this program, the teams were exposed to a number of participatory design techniques. Each team made use of several techniques in order to further the development of their projects.

Method:

The Brainstorming technique was used to inform the learning and discovery phase of the Ghost Town Project. A component of a larger 3-hour Focus Group, the brainstorming session called on participants to generate a list of potential sites for revitalization.

Participants:

Participants in the Brainstorming session were members of the general public who had expressed an interest in the restoration of old or abandoned sites.

Supportive methods:

In addition to Brainstorming, the Ghost Town Project team made us of two other methods during their  3-hour Focus Group: Survey and Make Tools.

Goals:

The GTP team was early in the development of its concept and needed to get feedback from the public on the core concept and proposed direction. As Brainstorming is a group problem solving/creativity technique, it was ideal for generating multiple options for possible future sites for restoration.

Process summary:

Participants in the Brainstorming session were informed that the focus of this exercise was to explore possible sites for future restoration projects. Armed with the basic rules for effective brainstorming, the group of participants proposed potential sites for exploration.

Results:

A broad list of potential sites was generated by the group and complemented a short list previously identified by the GTP team. The process of discussing the merits of these sites enabled the group to identify a short list of locations with strong potential and to draft the criteria for choosing future sites for the Ghost Town Project to profile.

Outcomes:

Participants also chose the previously identified Heidelberg Inn at the Keansburg Amusement Park in New Jersey, USA as the restoration site to launch The Ghost Town Project.

ideaBOOST is the CFC Media Lab’s accelerator that emphasizes Audience Engagement for entertainment platform development. This case study was prepared for the ASTOUND initiative, a partnership between the CFC, HotDocs, and OCAD University.

IdeaBOOST Case Studies: The Long Interview – YT//ST

Interview: The Long Interview

Author: Zan Chandler

Lead facilitators: Alaska B, Ange Loft, Aylwin Lo

Overview:

YOUR TASK // SHOOT THINGS, YAMANTAKA//SONIC TITAN

YOUR TASK // SHOOT THINGS is a side-scrolling rhythm tap game, setting the pacing and ease-of-play of Infinite Runners again the music, art, and world critically-acclaimed art collective YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN. The game includes a music player loaded with a selection of YT//ST songs, and provides the ability to purchase music. Featuring integration with the YT//ST website, Twitter updates, and Songkick, the app also helps fans stay in touch with other YT//ST activities.

From the fall 2012 until spring 2013, YOUR TASK // SHOOT THINGS was one of seven teams to participate in the CFC Media Lab’s digital entertainment accelerator, ideaBOOST. The program employs the best practices from tech’s lean startup movement and other disciplines. The program’s goal is to help companies navigate the entertainment and technology startup market, sharpen their product vision, and refine their strategies to target audiences and generate sustainable revenues. As part of this program, the teams were exposed to a number of participatory design techniques. Each team made use of several techniques in order to further the development of their projects.

Method:

Offering a balance between the flexibility of open-ended interviews and the focus of highly structured ethnographic surveys, the YT//ST team made use of in-depth interviews (a variant of The Long Interview) to gather focused, qualitative data about their fans, their fans’ interests, media consumption habits, cultural participation and the core elements of their game concept. This method was used during the discovery phase of the innovation process.

Participants:

Subjects of the YT//ST team’s interviews were existing fans of the art collective YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN.

Supportive methods:

As part of their interviews, the YT//ST team also made use of a Questionnaire in order to gain a deeper understanding of their fans.

Goals:

Before designing a game geared toward their fans, the YT//ST team needed to have a deep understanding of who their fans were, what motivated them to participate in the YT//ST world and in other cultural experiences. They also used this opportunity to gather feedback on the core elements of their game concept such as art work, basic game design, and music. This method enabled the team to gain deep insights into YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN fans, their appreciation of YT//ST’s music and performances, and to gather descriptive information on their cultural experiences.

Process summary:

Two team members sat with individual interview subjects for an in-depth interview. Following an introduction to the project, participants were asked for feedback on preliminary artwork created for the game. Then participants answered an extensive set of questions that touched on topics such as their cultural consumption habits and expenditures; their interest in YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN shows and music; and their interest in gaming.

Images or diagrams:

YT//ST fan being interviewed

YT//ST fan being interviewed

Results:

The YT//ST team was successful in gaining a deeper understanding of their fans. They learned that their fans were interested in the range of creative outputs of the art collective and were willing to follow them onto other platforms.

Outcomes:

While some of their fans were not gamers, they indicated that they would be interested in the idea of the game due to their love of the music and the world created by YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN. They also learned that YT//ST fans were generally willing to spend money on arts and cultural experiences, even those on modest incomes.

ideaBOOST is the CFC Media Lab’s accelerator that emphasizes Audience Engagement for entertainment platform development. This case study was prepared for the ASTOUND initiative, a partnership between the CFC, HotDocs, and OCAD University.

ideaBOOST Case Studies: Make Tools – Ghost Town Project

Generative Research: Make Tools

Author: Zan Chandler

Lead facilitators: Ina Fichman, Eric Blais, Theresa Kowall-Shipp

Overview:

The Ghost Town Project, Intuitive Pictures

The Ghost Town Project (GTP) is a multi-platform initiative where online engagement has real world implications and influence. The project brings online communities, locals and experts together to help rebuild and restore landmark buildings in different locations. Ghost Town Project seeks to uncover the intimate story of how and why a site was abandoned, and also look to the future with the help of a restoration team of historians, architects and conservationists.

From the fall 2012 until spring 2013, The Ghost Town Project was one of seven teams to participate in the CFC Media Lab’s digital entertainment accelerator, ideaBOOST. The program employs the best practices from tech’s lean startup movement and other disciplines. The program’s goal is to help companies navigate the entertainment and technology startup market, sharpen their product vision, and refine their strategies to target audiences and generate sustainable revenues. As part of this program, the teams were exposed to a number of participatory design techniques. Each team made use of several techniques in order to further the development of their projects.

Method:

The Generative Research: Make Tools method was used to inform the definition and conceptualization phases of the Ghost Town Project. This method enabled the team to gain valuable feedback on how to structure their project.

Participants:

Participants in the Focus Group were members of the general public who had expressed an interest in the restoration of old or abandoned sites. Many of the participants were members of GTP’s Facebook group.

Supportive methods:

This method was used in conjunction with Brainstorming, Survey and Make Tools in a 3-hour Focus Group.

Goals:

The Ghost Town Project team chose the Heidelberg Inn, at Keansburg, New Jersey for the Make Tools exercise. This site was outside the geographic region of the Focus Group participants, who were located in Toronto, Ontario. The goals of this exercise was to explore how interested potential audience members might be in the revitalization of a site geographically removed them them. It was also an opportunity to understand how participating in the redesign process of a site might foster an investment in its revitalization.

Process summary:

The Generative Design: Make Tools method was used in the  final segment of the Focus Group. The participants were given an introduction to the Keansburg Amusement Park and then seated at two large tables.  Each table was provided with blow-ups and aerial views of the site and tracing paper. They were instructed that they had 90 minutes to reimagine the Heidelberg Inn. Their instructions were to:

  • keep the basic structure of the building

  • stay within a budget is $100,000, including materials and some of the labour

  • maintain a schedule of: 3 weeks for community consultation, 2 weeks for design development, ~4 weeks for permit, material/product sourcing & contractor award/mobilization, and 6-8 weeks for construction.

  • In the last 15 minutes, each group presented their “re-imagined” site.

Images or diagrams:

Make Tools

Make Tools

Results:

Each of the two groups, presented collaboratively created re-imaginings of the  Heidelberg Inn at the Keansburg Amusement Park.

Outcomes:

The Make Tools session confirmed to the GTP team that members of the general public, even those geographically removed from an an old or abandoned site, could be interested in its revitalization. The exercise demonstrated that despite being at a great distance from the site, the act of contributing to the redesign process fostered an investment in the future of that site on the part of participants.

ideaBOOST is the CFC Media Lab’s accelerator that emphasizes Audience Engagement for entertainment platform development. This case study was prepared for the ASTOUND initiative, a partnership between the CFC, HotDocs, and OCAD University.

ideaBOOST Case Studies: Make Tools – Ramen Party

Make Tools

Author: Zan Chandler

Lead Facilitators: Lilian Chan, John Poon, John Mak

Overview:

Ramen Party 

Ramen Party is a cross-media entertainment property that gets preschool children and their culture-savvy parents interested in music, food, and culture by introducing them to quirky characters based on Japanese food ingredients. Each of these characters has both a distinct musical sound and a signature goofy dance, which, when brought together, create not only a tasty bowl of Ramen, but also a fun little song and a party full of dancing friends. Our products will include a free music video to introduce the characters, an interactive storybook app that has challenges for the reader to accomplish in order to collect characters, and merchandise such as a variety of interactive and traditional toys.

From the fall 2012 until spring 2013, Ramen Party was one of seven teams to participate in the CFC Media Lab’s digital entertainment accelerator, ideaBOOST. The program employs the best practices from tech’s lean startup movement and other disciplines. The program’s goal is to help companies navigate the entertainment and technology startup market, sharpen their product vision, and refine their strategies to target audiences and generate sustainable revenues. As part of this program, the teams were exposed to a number of participatory design techniques. Each team made use of several techniques in order to further the development of their projects.

Method:

The Ramen Party team used the Make Tools method to inform the definition and conceptualization phases of their project.

Participants:

Participants in the participatory design sessions were parents with their young children.

Supportive methods:

This method was used in conjunction with Simulation and Observation.

Goals:

As the Ramen Party team was bringing a new world to life that included previously unknown characters and settings, they needed to know if the world and its characters were compelling to parents and children.

Process summary:

To get the feedback on their newly created world and set of characters,  the Ramen Party team produced a set of experiences for the kids and their parents. For the Make Tools elements, the team set up several stations for parents and children to interact with:

  • A craft station, which was supplied with basic elements of the Ramen Party characters so that the kids would easily put them together;

  • An animation station, where the team made video animations with the Ramen Party characters created by the kids;

  • A music station, where the kids explored the music behind the characters; and

  • A credits station, where the kids spelled out their names with letters cut out of magazines to create the credit sequence for the compilation video of the kids’ animated characters.

The parents and their kids moved from station to station at their leisure.

Images or diagrams:

Ramen Party characters

Ramen Party characters being crafted

Kids making Ramen Party characters

Kids making Ramen Party characters

The music station

The music station where kids could play with sounds and music related to the characters.

Results:

The Make Tools method provided an opportunity for the parents and children to interact with various elements of the Ramen Party brand – the characters, setting, and music. The activity at each of the various stations demonstrated that the kids responded readily to the Ramen Party characters and world.

Outcome:

Some parents confirmed that their kids had an enhanced interest in food, ramen in particular, as a result of the experience.

 ideaBOOST is the CFC Media Lab’s accelerator that emphasizes Audience Engagement for entertainment platform development. This case study was prepared for the ASTOUND initiative, a partnership between the CFC, HotDocs, and OCAD University.

ideaBOOST Case Studies: Prototyping – Buffer Fest

Prototyping

Author: Zan Chandler

Lead Facilitators: Corey Vidal, Tim Deegan

Overview:

Buffer Festival, ApprenticeA Productions

The Buffer Festival is an annual event that recognizes and showcases the best creative work from established and emerging YouTube creators. The festival will leverage the most accomplished YouTubers to help emerging talent and brands connect to a relevant audience. Buffer Festival is based on three main components: the curation and celebration of YouTube content and its creators, the film challenge, and the award show which will also be streamed online.

From the fall 2012 until spring 2013, the Buffer Festival was one of seven teams to participate in the CFC Media Lab’s digital entertainment accelerator, ideaBOOST. The program employs the best practices from tech’s lean startup movement and other disciplines. The program’s goal is to help companies navigate the entertainment and technology startup market, sharpen their product vision, and refine their strategies to target audiences and generate sustainable revenues. As part of this program, the teams were exposed to a number of participatory design techniques. Each team made use of several techniques in order to further the development of their projects.

Method:

In order to test their concept of a film festival for YouTube creator, the Buffer Festival team decided to Prototype the look, feel and flow of it. This method was used to support the team conceptualize and design the festival.

Participants:

Participants in the Prototype session included YouTube video creators, their fans, including fans of the videos created by individual members of the ApprenticeA team.

Goals:

As the Buffer Festival was conceived as a live event that centred around the screenings of YouTube videos and an award show, the team needed to determine whether YouTube fans would be interested in the communal experience of a live event. They also needed to gauge whether fans would pay to attend such as event, even though they could see the videos online at no cost and on their own schedules.

Process summary:

The Buffer Festival team created an outline for the one-night live event, including a list of videos to be screened, an interview with a popular YouTube video creator. Several days before the event, the team announced on YouTube that they were holding a live event for a limited number of people. Those interested in attending the event were directed to buy tickets via Eventbrite. A limited number of tickets was available for $10 each.

While the event didn’t take place at a movie theatre, the team had access to a large meeting space, where they set up a large TV screen and rows of seating. Once attendees had arrived and been seated, two members of the team kicked off the event by explaining the genesis and goals of the festival. This was followed by the screening of a selection of videos by popular YouTubers. Following the screening, a Buffer Festival team member interviewed one the YouTube creators who had been profiled in the screening. To conclude the event, the team invited the audience to a post-screening reception, which enabled the team to gather first hand feedback on the experience from audience members.

 Images or diagrams:

Buffer Festival Preview Evening

Buffer Festival Preview Evening: team members explain the genesis of the festival and introduce the evening’s line-up

ApprenticeA produced a short video profiling the Buffer Festival Preview evening.

Results:  

Registration for the event filled up quickly and was sold out by the evening of the event. The audience responded strongly to the ApprenticeA team and their introduction to the event. The videos screening and question and answer sessions with the YouTube creator were also met with enthusiastic support.

Outcomes:

The event confirmed that audiences of online video were indeed interested in attending a live event to celebrate excellence in online video. Feedback from audience members also confirmed that fans were interested in seeing YouTubers live and in person. The fact that tickets sold out before the event demonstrated that at the $10 price point was not a barrier for fans of online video.

ideaBOOST Case Studies: Modelling and Simulation – Ramen Party

Modelling and Simulation

Author: Zan Chandler

Lead Facilitators: Lilian Chan, John Poon, John Mak

Overview:

Ramen Party

Ramen Party is a cross-media entertainment property that gets preschool children and their culture-savvy parents interested in music, food, and culture by introducing them to quirky characters based on Japanese food ingredients. Each of these characters has both a distinct musical sound and a signature goofy dance, which, when brought together, create not only a tasty bowl of Ramen, but also a fun little song and a party full of dancing friends. Our products will include a free music video to introduce the characters, an interactive storybook app that has challenges for the reader to accomplish in order to collect characters, and merchandise such as a variety of interactive and traditional toys.

From the fall 2012 until spring 2013, Ramen Party was one of seven teams to participate in the CFC Media Lab’s digital entertainment accelerator, ideaBOOST. The program employs the best practices from tech’s lean startup movement and other disciplines. The program’s goal is to help companies navigate the entertainment and technology startup market, sharpen their product vision, and refine their strategies to target audiences and generate sustainable revenues. As part of this program, the teams were exposed to a number of participatory design techniques. Each team made use of several techniques in order to further the development of their projects.

Method:

The Ramen Party team used Simulation to inform the definition phase of their project.

Participants:

Participants in the participatory design sessions were parents with their young children.

Supportive methods: 

This method was used in conjunction with Simulation and Observation.

Goals:

In order to help the team understand which were the critical elements of the Ramen Party brand, and therefore which elements to focus on developing first, the team needed to gain a deeper understanding of the spending habits of parents with young children when it came to toys and entertainment. To do this, they simulated the experience of a toy shop.

Process summary:

The simulated toy store was one of the several interaction stations that the team set up to gather information designed to inform the development of the Ramen Party project. This station simulated simulated the experience of parents shopping for toys and entertainment products for their young children. To do this, they collected a number of toys, books and games, including many items related to the Disney’s Cars brand. Each set of parents was provided with set amount of monopoly money and asked to shop at the simulated store. Parents could buy as much or as little as they wanted, as long as they didn’t exceed their limit. The team observed the parents as they shopped, noting what parents spent, and discussions around which items were chosen and which were not.

Images or diagrams:

Child at the simulated toy store.

Child plays with Cars toy at the simulated toy store

Results:

This method provided the team with insights about parents’ spending habits. Some parents didn’t spend all the play money they were provided, indicating that quantity of items was not an overriding factor. Counter to the team’s expectation, parents gravitated toward the storybooks and stickers. They were less interested in the more expensive,  interactive products on the table. This demonstrated that interactive digital and physical toys were not critical elements for Ramen Party. Parents revealed that they picked specific products in order to meet specific needs, as sometimes they used entertainment as a distraction and, at other times, they used entertainment to support education goals.

Outcomes:  

Originally, the Ramen Party team had been contemplating a kids’ app and a web or television series. The insights they gained from the experiences they witnessed at the various interaction stations would enable the team to build a brand that could be enjoyed on multiple platforms. This meant that building word of mouth about their brand would be critical to its growth.

ideaBOOST is the CFC Media Lab’s accelerator that emphasizes Audience Engagement for entertainment platform development. This case study was prepared for the ASTOUND initiative, a partnership between the CFC, HotDocs, and OCAD University.

ideaBOOST Case Studies: Think Aloud – Rollers of the Realm

Contextual Design: Think Aloud

Author: Zan Chandler

Lead facilitator: Thomas Detko

Overview:  

Rollers of the Realm, Phantom Compass

Combining the skill mastery and physics of pinball, with the challenge of physics-based puzzle play, and the engagement of role playing games, Rollers of the Realm (RTR) offers a new yet familiar and accessible gaming experience. Supported by epic fantasy narrative and an ensemble cast of meaningful characters, Rollers of the Realm provides challenging, bite-sized game-play for the casual gamer.

From the fall 2012 until spring 2013, Rollers of the Realm was one of seven teams to participate in the CFC Media Lab’s digital entertainment accelerator, ideaBOOST. The program employs the best practices from tech’s lean startup movement and other disciplines. The program’s goal is to help companies navigate the entertainment and technology startup market, sharpen their product vision, and refine their strategies to target audiences and generate sustainable revenues. As part of this program, the teams were exposed to a number of participatory design techniques. Each team made use of several techniques in order to further the development of their projects.

Method:

By using the Think Aloud method the Rollers of the Realm team were able to gather valuable feedback on the game’s design and gain insights into the cognitive model of their testers. This method was used to support the design phase of this game’s development.

Participants:

Prior to their participation in ideaBOOST, the alpha version of Rollers of the Realm had been tested by approximately 140 people. While these alphas testers represented a broad spectrum of users, the team needed to get feedback on the physics, game-play experience and story line from their target audience – fans of pinball and RPG games. Participants at this session were players who had expressed an interest in testing a pinball-roll playing game mashup.

Supportive methods:

This method was used in conjunction with Video Ethnography and User Testing in order to gain a deeper understanding of casual gamers who are interested in pinball, puzzle, and role-playing game play.

Goals:

The Think Aloud method was chosen because it enabled the RTR team to hear the thoughts and feelings of their testers as it related to their game playing experience. Rather than have testers describe this as they were playing the game, which would interfere with the game play, testers responded to playback of video that was recorded of their game play.

Process summary:

Testers of Rollers of the Realm were videotaped was they played the game. Immediately afterward, testers were shown their video recording and participated in a discussion about the experience. Testers were able to speak about key points in the game and speak to what they were thinking, why they made certain choices, where they had experienced setbacks or difficulties and their overall impressions of the game.

Images or diagrams:

A tester plays the game while being recorded for later playback

A tester plays the game while being recorded for later playback

Results:  

The high quality feedback from the Think Aloud sessions greatly informed the next stage of the game’s design as well as the way that the game was framed for marketing purposes. The Rollers of the Realm team received positive feedback on the game’s design as well as insights into the cognitive model of their testers. Despite the small number of testers who played the alpha version of the game, this combination of methods enabled the team to gain a very detailed understanding of in-game play. The game testers drew connections to the very popular casual game, Angry Birds, particularly in terms of the physics of the game play. The team also discovered that that testers saw the game as a puzzler, and not merely as a pinball-type game with role-playing elements.

Outcomes:  

With the realization that their game appealed to puzzle lovers, the team reframed their branding of the game to include puzzle play and expanded their target audience from pinball game fans to casual gamers.

ideaBOOST is the CFC Media Lab’s accelerator that emphasizes Audience Engagement for entertainment platform development. This case study was prepared for the ASTOUND initiative, a partnership between the CFC, HotDocs, and OCAD University.

ideaBOOST Case Studes: Video Ethnography – Rollers of the Realm

Observation: Video Ethnography

Author: Zan Chandler

Lead facilitator: Thomas Detko

Overview:

Rollers of the Realm, Phantom Compass

Combining the skill mastery and physics of pinball, with the challenge of physics-based puzzle play, and the engagement of role playing games, Rollers of the Realm (RTR) offers a new yet familiar and accessible gaming experience. Supported by epic fantasy narrative and an ensemble cast of meaningful characters, Rollers of the Realm provides challenging, bite-sized game-play for the casual gamer.

From the fall 2012 until spring 2013, Rollers of the Realm was one of seven teams to participate in the CFC Media Lab’s digital entertainment accelerator, ideaBOOST. The program employs the best practices from tech’s lean startup movement and other disciplines. The program’s goal is to help companies navigate the entertainment and technology startup market, sharpen their product vision, and refine their strategies to target audiences and generate sustainable revenues. As part of this program, the teams were exposed to a number of participatory design techniques. Each team made use of several techniques in order to further the development of their projects.

Method:

Video ethnography enabled the Rollers of The Realm team to observe participants playing the game without being intrusive into the process. While in some cases, researchers may be absent while the subject is being videotaped, in this case, team members were present during the recording. While this method is generally used in the discovery phase of a project, it was combined with Contextual Design: Think Aloud in support of the design phase of the game.

Participants:

Prior to their participation in ideaBOOST, the alpha version of Rollers of the Realm had been tested by approximately 140 people. While these alphas testers represented a broad spectrum of users, the team needed to get feedback on the physics, game-play experience and story line from their target audience – fans of pinball and RPG games. Participants at this session were players who had expressed an interest in testing a pinball-roll playing game mashup.

Supportive methods:

This method was used in conjunction with Think Aloud and User Testing in order to gain a deeper understanding of casual gamers who are interested in pinball, puzzle, and role-playing game play.

Goals:

This method was selected because it does not disrupt the experience of the participants. The players are free to immerse themselves fully in the game playing experience without distraction or interruption. Only afterward, aided by the video playback of their game play session, were they asked about their impressions, experience and decision making process.

Process summary:

Testers were invited to test the alpha version of Rollers of the Realm. On the day, the team set up two playing stations with video cameras trained on the players as they tested the alpha version of the game. Players were free to immerse themselves in their game play. After they had finished, the players watched a video playback of their own game play experience and were asked questions about the game’s design, user experience and game play elements.

Images or diagrams:

A tester plays the game while being recorded for later playback

A tester plays the game while being recorded for later playback

Results:

The Video Ethnography method, in combination with Contextual Design: Think Aloud enabled game testers to have immersive and uninterrupted game play while also providing them with the opportunity to communicate their impressions and experiences of the game. The Rollers of the Realm team received positive feedback on the game’s design and high-quality insights into the cognitive model of their  testers. While the number of people who played the alpha version of their game was small, this combination of methods enabled the team to gain a detailed understanding of in-game play. The game testers drew connections to the very popular casual game, Angry Birds, particularly in terms of the physics of the pinball aspects of the game play. The team also discovered that that testers saw the game as a puzzler, and not merely as a pinball-type game with role-playing elements.

Outcomes:  

With the realization that their game appealed to puzzle lovers, the team reframed their branding of the game to include puzzle play and expanded their target audience from pinball game fans to casual gamers.

ideaBOOST is the CFC Media Lab’s accelerator that emphasizes Audience Engagement for entertainment platform development. This case study was prepared for the ASTOUND initiative, a partnership between the CFC, HotDocs, and OCAD University.