12 Weeks (In progress)
2D & 3D Art
We are SMALLab Flare, building and delivering 3 game prototypes based on SMALLab motion tracking platform and helping middle and high school students at Northgate School District with mental and behavioral health issues they face at school or life.
The prototypes we are delivering are respectively
3) a competitive color motion game.
For this project, our team is collaborating with Northgate School District students and Allegheny Health Network behavioral and mental health specialists, notably from the Chill Project – A mindfulness program for schools.
In this project, we are using a 3D mixed reality motion tracking platform called SMALLab that can make use of tablets and/or VR headsets in tandem with OptiTrack motion capture system.
The SMALLab plaform includes a foam mat and 3 motion capture ‘wands’ that can track a person’s movement on the mat.
The objective of building prototypes based on the SMALLab platform is to raise awareness and help middle and high school students with mental and behavioral health difficulties they confront through a variety of games and experiences.
The domain of mental health and therapy was relatively new to most of our team. How should we address the problem and offer our help through building interesting games for the middle and high school students who we are also not familiar with, AKA our clients?
To better learn what and how we can make the most of the motion tracker technology platform, we examined and tested on the platform and discovered the advantages and limitations of the technology.
After booting up a few past projects that had been built on this platform, we quickly discovered a few game design constraits -
1) Low resolution of the projector on the mat
2) Shadows of the players on the mat
3) Only top view can be showed on the map
4) Maximum only 3 players can be playing together at the same time
Moving forward. We choose to develop based on the acknowledged circumstances and maximize everything.
Meeting with students
To better understand the students, their expectations and needs, we decided to visit Northgate School District to meet our players. We met with the high school students for a 45 minutes slot and middle school students for a 30 minutes slot.
We were aware that the topics we would bring up related to mental health might be heavy to discuss with people they are meeting for the first time, that is, us. We chose to start our meeting with a few icebreaker group activities.
During our group meeting/interviews, we asked students to write their mental health issues encounted during school or life on paper chits. This ensured students who might be uncomfortable to speak in a group got their thoughts and feelings through to us.
We also ask them to think of an word and a color they think of when they see certain words we show them. We designed this to gauge their first instinct regarding certain words, which can guide our art and design moving forward.
After the school visit, we took away with valuable highlights. One main highlights was to discover how interactive each group of students was - and how that would dictate the kind of experiences we make. Middle school students are surprisingly more open to discuss about their personal issues in the public while high school students preferred to write down their answers anonymously.
They all pointed out that stress and anxiety regarding academics, and being overwhelmed by school was the top issue they face and notice in their peers on a daily basis.
Inspired by the Chill room initiative by the Chill team at Northgate school, this prototype would focus on free interaction and movement of the user on the SMALLab platform. The main aim of this prototype is to provide a calming environment for the students, and relief from the anxiety and stress they face on a daily basis.