Alicerex

Alicerex is a storytelling web game for elementary school students (age 6 to 10). It is more interactive than traditional paper books. Users can explore the story from a first-person perspective in this virtual world. The game is built on unity and can be run on the web. We have conducted user tests and continuously iterated game art to make this game more visually appealing to children.

YEAR
2020
Client
/BradField Narrative Design Inc.
My Role
/UX Design /Project Management

The Problem

What is the future of digital storytelling when you no longer have to turn the physical pages? How can we improve online teaching and learning experience both within the classroom and homeschool settings?

The Solution

Alicerex is a storytelling web-game for elementary school students (age 6 to 10). It is more interactive than traditional paper books. Users can explore the story from a first-person perspective in this virtual world. The game is built on unity and can be run on the web. We have conducted user tests and continuously iterated game art to make this game more visually appealing to children.

Play the game here: https://projects.thecdm.ca/alicerex/

Problem Statement

Covid19 has made us realize the role digital media plays today. Learning is an essential aspect of everyone's life, particularly students, and distance learning is encouraged almost everywhere.

It is necessary to make it easy to use for elementary school children. The current issue with distance learning in high school is that most students find it difficult to concentrate on online education as it gets monotonous and the physical aspect of learning is lost with a lack of interaction and access to physical resources. We think digital storytelling is a process of sharing stories and creative visuals with others. Using digital storytelling as a learning experience for elementary school students can involve a lot of factors.

In short, the primary problems is that COVID 19 is forcing students to receive remote education.

  1. How can they have more fun in remote education when they lack interaction with others?
  2. How can we provide more resources while libraries are not easily accessible?

Target Users

6-10 YEARS OLD SCHOOL CHILDREN

Our primary potential users are elementary school students in the age range of 6 to 10 years old who are interested in storytelling, educational video games, and digital learning experiences. Our product targets elementary school students who want to improve their speaking and reading ability in English.

Secondary Research

Gamification can be a powerful education strategy when implemented properly, as it can enhance an education program.

We did literature reviews about the impact of educational uses of games. From Wendy Hsin-Yuan Huang’s article “A Practitioner’s Guide To Gamification Of Education”, we learned that gamification can be a powerful education strategy when implemented properly, as it can enhance an education program, and achieve learning objectives by influencing the behaviour of students.

From Dr. Hochman, we learnt that people would suffer from low literacy ability if they did not build up a solid literacy foundation from childhood education.

Expert Opinion

We interviewed Jing, an educator in kindergarten and primary school with children teaching certification and five years of experience as a teacher.

Feedback

  • Eyesight Health
  • Focus shorter than 20 mins
  • Need to be guarded by parents when using digital devices
  • Let children tell the story
  • Young children won't tell if they are interested in certain content

Our Hypothesis: We can create a less-than-20mins interactive storytelling experience and give kids a chance to tell stories in it as well.

Interview with Parents

After user research (user interviews and expert interviews), we summarized three main user needs:
  1. Traditional physical books lack interaction, which leads to a lack of interest in reading among young students.
  2. In distance education, it is difficult for students to stay engaged alone at home.
  3. The most challenging part of improving children's literacy is how to combine audiovisual materials.

Ideation

Persona & Empathy Map

Pain Points

  • Remote learning ---- less interactive with teacher and classmates ---- need more interaction
  • More time at home ---- boring ---- need something more engaging, such as digital storytelling
  • less homework ---- more time to spend ---- need to learn something as a compensate material
  • the foundation of future life ---- improve literacy skills

WHY DIGITAL STORYTELLING?

Digital storytelling is a process of sharing stories and creative imaginings with others.
An informal learning environment will become more popular with its virtual, hybrid, interactive, and dynamic characteristics to make up for physical reading shortcomings in the short future. It will be a new way for children to learn better.

User Storyboard

Amy is nine years old. She is an elementary school student in Seattle, WASH. She likes playing the guitar, visiting the planetarium, and reading comics books. During Covid-19, she has HAD to stay at home much longer than before. She feels distracted and bored when reading physical books, especially when she is studying alone in her room. She is losing interest in books.

Introduce Alicerex, a storytelling web game.

Key Features

Wireframe

Storytelling

Our story is adapted from Alice in Australia

Our client, Bradfield Narrative Design, also put forward their expectations for our product. They helped us to adapt the stories of ALICE, our project guide by taking into account our target user group. After consultation with our client, we finally decided to use the Australia series of stories.

Visual Script

This is our visual script for game storytelling

Level Design

Level Design Database & Task Flowchart

Final Prototype

A playable demo

Logo Design

Art Style

Game Screenshots

Link to our game: https://projects.thecdm.ca/alicerex/

Future Development

In the future, our products still have the potential to continue developing. In our current prototype, the story only covers the first chapter. There are 12 chapters in Alice's story in Australia. If we can get the guidance of education experts, we can continue to write more stories. There is a room to development and a lot more educational user functions. Currently, the educational function is to let students take quizzes. In the future, we plan to add creative writing tools by providing students with some art assets to let them become their storytellers.

Meet the team

Reference
  1. Dana Goldstein. Why Kids Can’t Write. 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/02/education /edlife/writing-education-grammar-students- children.html
  2. Wendy Hsin-Yuan Huang. A Practitioner's Guide to Gamification of Education. 2013. https://inside.rotman.utoronto.ca/behaviouralec onomicsinaction/files/2013/09/GuideGamificatio nEducationDec2013.pdf
  3. Persona School Schedules reference. https://www.eesd.org/page.cfm?p=5229