Hi all! We had our first play test for Outside The Box yesterday with the children who were taking part in the play scheme with the YMCA of Central London. We went with them to Lambourne End Centre for Outdoor Learning, where the children will get to take part in various activities including a chance to have a go with the play sets.
Upon arrival I was engulfed by the surrounding greenery, the centre was huge! 54 acres of land; open fields with animals grazing on the grass and various adventure activities built and scattered across the vast fields.
As we walked through the reception area to catch up with the children who were currently having lunch. My attention was immediately swept away from a beautiful blond haired horse which trotted passed; a small carriage trailing behind it with children gleefully cheering as they enjoyed the ride, “I want to go on that” was all I could think of after that.
After lunch the children were split into two groups and thus it was time to set the cubes free onto the grass and just see what happens.
The curious children watched and questioned as Giles placed the play set on the grass, they began picking them up and marvelled at the different drawings and asked who drew them – I felt proud and happy that they really liked them. They’ve ask me how did I draw the images to which I explained very briefly the process.
Then the blank cubes had become like gold, they all became immersed in the idea of making their own cubes and swarmed around trying to overcome the challenge of assembling a cube and immediately attacking the art box soon after. Frantically scooping PVA glue over the grass and dribbling it across each other, they busied away crafting their masterpiece.
There was one girl however, who was more determined to solve the animal set. At first when she couldn’t work it out she claimed the cubes were wrong, so I nudged and gave a clue to which she immediately thought “Ah! so it can also go this way!” she shuffled the cubes and tried again. Eventually she solved the puzzle and huffed “that was hard”.
Then the groups switched over, a trio sprinted across the field and sat down to make a cube. They then began playing with the storytelling set. At first they only picked one word from each face of the cube – which made their stories one sentence long, but after suggesting that they can use all the words from each face, their stories became longer.
One of the girls used the words in order shown, another used the genre cube – but instead of rolling it she preferred to choose the face that she liked and did the same with the word cubes. They competed with each other to tell the best story and started shouting to drown out each other’s story!
(If you would like to listen to some of their funny stories, click on the links below)
Finally the groups reunited to go see the farm animals, indicating the end of the first play testing session. Overall it was a great opportunity to be able to play test with children in a outdoor setting, it gave me an idea of what needs changing and how to set up the next play test. It would have been better to be able to get more children to play with them and to also get some of the boys to give it a go for a fair play test, instead of taking one look at it and tossing it aside for football. I thank the Central YMCA for this opportunity and look forward to more visits in hope that children will like Outside The Box. As for the golden horse that kept trotting passed me numerous times and swaying it’s golden mane as if taunting me…one day..one day..*shakes fists*.
(Drum rolls) Ladies and Gentlemen, I proudly present the finished eBooks!
The eBooks are part of Outside The Box and were created to accompany the play sets, they act as props to help stimulate game play.
I’ve created a total of six eBooks that fit with the role playing set, each eBook corresponds to the six roles available. Once roles have been assigned, players can take their eBooks with them to carry out missions. They can use it to take notes, draw maps, sketch images or even stick things into, they can do whatever they like with these eBooks that will assist their game experience.
But what’s inside you ask? (sniggers). Each book is themed to each role, not just on the cover, but the inside pages too. All pages inside are hand drawn with blank spaces for the player to use, it’s printer friendly and encourages players to freely scribble in them.
The eBooks can also be used for the other play sets too! For example, players can choose an eBook of their choice and use it to play along the story telling game. Or they could use the eBooks to create strange combination animals. (More suggestions available in the Outside The Box Suggestion eBook).
I enjoyed designing and creating the eBooks, it all began with making miniature versions as the initial design. Then making the basic prototype and moving onto finalising details and adding messages to the players. I had a lot of fun making the eBooks, I now hope that players will enjoy the finished product.
It took a bit longer than planned, but the set of cubes for Outside The Box have reached the first prototype stage! (Applauds) It took a lot of energy to meet the deadline but seeing the finished prototype makes all the hard work worthwhile, I am very pleased with the results and hope you all will grow fond of them too! Thank you Giles and Alice for your patience and advice in teaching me the palette decision making process and guiding me in polishing the sets to a finished prototype. Thanks to Radhika and Haz for taking time out to assist in assembling the cubes together and working on the story telling set!
What happens next? (grin) we play with them! The next stage will be to test them out, not just with the team but with our target audience – kids! We’ll be thinking of additional ways to play with them, making observations to check that children understand the content on the cubes and hope they will enjoy playing with them. Our findings in this stage will be taken into consideration when making decisions on the final product.
Outside The Box is a project inspired by the Love Outdoor Play campaign, which supports the idea of encouraging children to play outdoors. We brainstormed about possible games children could play and creating props to assist their gameplay using Diffusion eBooks and StoryCubes made with bookleteer.
The first idea was a visual game using the StoryCubes, which Karen had blogged a sneak peek of a few weeks back. It was a brain teaser type of game, where one image was spread across two squares – so one face of the cube had 4 halves of an image along each edge of the square. The aim was to match up the top and bottom half together. The puzzle only worked if there was nine squares, any less and it wouldn’t have been challenging enough.
The original set had 4 themes, the first being domestic pets, the second insects and bugs, the third sea creatures and the fourth snakes.
After leaving this set out for members of Proboscis to try and solve, they thought it was humorous mismatching the animal halves together. They came up with many wild combinations such as a mer-dog (top half of a dog and lower half of a fish) which struck the idea of another way to play with this set of cubes – make the sound of the animal on the top half and move like the animal on the bottom half. Keeping this idea in mind, I redeveloped the set by adding different animals which make funny noises or move differently and as a result it made the puzzle easier for a younger age group because it resembled the card game Pairs.
The next set consists of a role playing game, encouraging children to use their imagination and interacting with each other if played in groups. With elements of exploration, this set was most fitting for the Love Outdoor Play campaign. There are six characters to choose from, each occupying one face on each cube with a mission. Just like the first set, this game used a total of nine cubes – meaning each character had a total of nine missions to accomplish. Characters for this set included spy, detective, super hero, storyteller, adventurer and scientist.
The last set is a story telling game, the set of cubes acts as a starting point in telling a story leaving children to fill in the gaps with their imagination. One cube decides the genre of the story, another cube decides the time setting and a third cube decides how the story will be told. Keeping the consistency of using nine cubes in one set, the remaining six cubes consists of words to which the player will use in their story.
At the moment these games are in prototype stage, where the final colour palette is to be decided and the finishing touches to be made and polished. Although I had hoped to have finished the prototypes sooner I guess working on 162 faces was a lot more challenging than I thought (laughs). 120 of the faces were illustrated and the remaining 42 contained words, which the Proboscis team kindly assisted with (thanks everyone!) Nonetheless, I have enjoyed the whole process and think that this project has given the opportunity for team work and I still feel that I have much to learn and look forward to learning more about the different methods used in deciding a colour palette for the final product.