Gamestar Mechanic is an online game and community designed to teach kids the principles of game design and systems thinking.  It is a self-paced learning experience that uses game-based “Quests” to help youth learn how to design games while they build critical 21st century skills.

Problem to Solve

The existing web site was static table and graphic based resulting in poor download performance and lack of cross-browser compatibility.  Develop a new web-based user interface using modular and responsive techniques while retaining the graphical brand.

Tasks

Conduct analysis of existing design and environment, create mapping and onboarding flows of processes, work with developers to implement changes and optimize site performance, work with game and visual designers to maintain narrative and graphical cohesion, and conduct user testing to identify and re-design problematic interactions.

  • Consent verification process
  • Mapping and Onboarding Flows
  • Wireframes
  • Page descriptions
  • User testing
  • Launch Site

Solution

Designed responsive interface for online game creation platform utilizing CSS3/Javascript to create efficient cross-browser/device performance and scalability.

Results

The changes improved access and performance cross-browsers and network connections, resulting in increased user adoption by student and schools.


Consent Verification

The platform is targeted at users who are under the age of 18. Conducted research on best practices for online verification for underage users. Developed process in keeping with verification process of the time.

Wireframes

Developed a series of wireframes inform the decision making process for the final design of the network. Wireframes were used with graphic designers to inform the development of the visual components.

User Testing

User tested and captured feedback on experiences to identify and inform interaction adjustments and/or redesign.

“Experience levels seemed to come a little too quickly, especially levels 4, 5, 6.”

“The second time I went to Velocidad (I had already completed two arcades there, then finished all the Juror arcades, then returned), the tutorial started up when I arrived at Velocided as if it was my first time there, repeating the Jhansi / Punky dialog.”

“When a player loses a life, it seems like a very minor event. I think  it  should feel different from and bigger than losing health.”

“Also, I was wanting an animation of the clouds blowing off the new city when I went there.”


Results

Gamestar Mechanic was officially launched and initially used in the curriculum of Quest2Learn school for digital students. It is now used across academic curriculums and venues for teaching system thinking and problem solving through game design.

A book was published on the development and impact of Gamestar Mechanic.

 Tekinbas, K. S., Gresalfi, M., Peppler, K., Santo, R., & Gee, J. P. (2014). Gaming the System: Designing with Gamestar Mechanic. MIT Press.