UI Programmer (C#),
Build Technician (Xcode)
Secret Story is a multiplayer tablet game designed to promote social inclusion and reduce loneliness in older adults. Gameplay consists of one player hiding a note with a secret question on it (such as “What is your fondest dining experience?”) behind one of the objects within the game scene; the other players then take turns asking the hider yes-no questions about the location of the secret and guess which object they think it’s hidden behind; if anyone guesses correctly, the hider reveals the secret question and answers it, sparking a conversation.
The game was created by myself and two other students during our four-month co-op placement at the Sheridan Centre for Elder Research. The work term was broken up into two, two-month phases: research, and development. For the research phase, we were tasked with creating a research report examining what elders value in games and other media. As well, after earning certification in human research ethics (TCPS 2: CORE), we collected original qualitative data by conducting playtests of popular tablet games in order to gauge specific likes and dislikes among players ages 60 and up. Finally, using the data collected, we developed a game idea and working prototype, Secret Story being the result.
Creating a game which eases suffering and improves lives was an incredibly unique and fulfilling experience, and I hope to be able to do it again someday.
Featured by Sheridan's Curiosities blog.
One of my main technical contributions on this project was designing and programming the UI for the main menu. Due to the target demographic being older adults who were mostly unfamiliar with games, great care was taken to design the menu in a way which was easy to understand and navigate. This was achieved by leveraging existing UX principles, but with an additional focus on simplicity, along with a few other specific design choices (for example, explicitly labelled buttons and prompts). Standout technical features of the main menu include functionality with the iPad’s keyboard and camera to allow for customizing player avatars with names and photos.
The prototype we developed features a kitchen scene where all of the questions asked are related to food, cooking, or dining. We chose this theme because it was important that people of different ages and cultures could relate to the topics, and since food is a universal experience, we decided that the kitchen was the perfect location. Potential ideas for future scenes include a park and a museum.