The project

This project is part of the course in User-centered design at the University of Oslo. The project to place over a 5-month period, and the goal was to go all the way from selecting a user group to research to making a "finished" prototype that could be used as intended. The limitations were that the prototype had to use the Arduino as a central component, and the interaction had to be screenless. 

We choose to focus our research on a local board game group. We used observation and interviews with the group participants to learn more about their habits, needs, challenges, as well as the social context of the group's meetings. We discovered that the participants often played games to relax and get their minds of off school or work. We also discovered that 'Secret Hitler' was the most played game. 

To aid our users in the game-playing experience we decided to tackle the problem: 
"How to facilitate increased immersion during the game of Secret Hitler?"
The process

After deciding the direction of our research, we started investigating further into what makes 'Secret Hitler' such a popular game. The users liked it for its social aspects, as well as allowing them to inhabit different roles. It was also important for them that the game was simple to learn, but still fun to play several times. However, due to its popularity, some users in the group had grown weary of it. We experimented with how we could incorporate other elements like light or audio to create a different experience with the game.

We wanted the new interaction to be "invisible" to the user, they would not need to change the way they played the game for our prototype to work. The prototype was developed in several iterations, were users were involved in testing after each new change to the prototype. Focus groups with the users allowed them to test play the game, and afterwards we interview them about what worked for them and what didn't. 

Since the game is based on a (semi) real-world setting, we decided to use audio-clips to help immerse players in the game. We selected a variety of sound effect and music, which will vary depending on how far along the game has come as well as which team is winning. The audio gets more intense as the ending of the game draws near.

The result

The final prototype is a fully working game with a built-in speaker, ready to play as you turn it on. The prototype is shaped like an old-style suitcase to match the game's concept, as the users also emphasized portability to be an important factor. The side also has a compartment that fits all game pieces for easy transportation.

The audio-clips are activated throughout the game as the players place game pieces on the game board, which has built-in light sensors. This allows players to play the game exactly as they usually would. There is a randomized selection of sounds for each sensor/position, so that user don't get bored from hearing the same sounds over and over.

In the final evaluation the users had differentiating opinions on the types of sounds that were more suitable. However, most of them seemed more eager and immersed in their roles during the gameplay. 

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