01 The Situation

What is Hunt Gather?
Hunt Gather will be a mobile app that uses Augmented Reality (AR) and GPS technologies to create a scavenger hunt experience which can be played any where at any time. 

Why a Participatory Design Session?
Previous research included competitive analysis and user interviews. The competitive analysis revealed opportunities for Hunt Gather to set itself apart from other scavenger hunt or AR/GPS assisted applications. The user interviews provided a framework for the sorts of interactions my users would enjoy, and what pain points they had encountered in either games or application use. 

I designed a basic hunting experience based off this feedback, but the amount of interactions the users could have with the play area and each other was limitless. Which ones should I employ going forward? The most efficient way to answer that question was to bring in members of my target audience and have them decide for themselves their ideal version of a hunt experience. 
02 Research Goals

Introduce Mechanics
Establish a framework for which it is possible to observe how participants react to proposed game play mechanics. 

Design by Committee
Allow participants to alter introduced mechanics, or propose additional mechanics relevant to the established framework before the experience begins, and hold a discussion after the experience to see what worked, what didn't, and what do to going forward. 
03 Proposed Mechanics

The Basics
To simulate a typical play area, 50 envelopes were spaced out across a field evenly. Participants could open the envelopes at will, but had to reseal them before moving on (no tearing open allowed!). 

There were three possibilities for the envelope contents: 
●     Different colored cards (Red, Green, Blue, Black)
●     A sealed prize envelope (containing 3 prize cards)
●     Nothing

Participatory Decisions
Participants deliberated and made a number of design decisions while I facilitated. 

●     Finding a Black card would force the finder to count aloud to 10 before they could move on.
●     Prize envelopes could not be opened unless you had 2 cards of Red, Green, and Blue.
●     All players would meet at the end of the "Hunt Phase" to trade and negotiate for different cards. 
●     Whoever had the most prize cards at the end of the "Gather Phase" would win that round.
Pointing out the play area. 
04 The Hunt Phase

●     Participants enjoyed the physical act of searching the play area. 
●     Trap cards added an element of variety.
●     Players would enjoy even more uses for the cards they were collecting. 
●     Players avoided each other in order to search their own areas. The digital app could allow multiple players to occupy the same searching space, which would encourage more social interaction. 
Notable participant quote:
"It really speaks to peoples enjoyment of collecting random stuff."
05 The Gather Phase
Players reconvened at the end of the Hunt Phase with their found cards. They began to determine the procedure necessary to negotiate with one another. What was the best way to initiate a trade? What gave every player a chance to be part of the process, and a chance at winning?
●     Players enjoyed meeting up to interact with each other.
●     Players want the mechanic to be more automated.
●     All players want to be engaged during the entire process. This would likely be achieved in app via a variety of mini-games as opposed to a single activity all players are participating in.
●     Players want the process of determining who has priority when exchanging cards to be equitable.
06 Final Deliberation

Participants and observers discussed their thoughts, and what changes they would like to see in future versions. I took the opportunity to gather thoughts on other proposed aspects of the application as well. 

Participant Thoughts
●     Cards can have other functions and interactivity such as:
-     Decreasing the time it takes to open a found item.
-     Setting traps for other players.
-     Reveal which areas have been searched by other players.
-     Ability to open items from afar.
-     Combine cards to generate points, which would cause players to strategize more during the Gather Phase as they would be more reluctant to give up cards to help others open envelopes.
●     Add a variety of activities for the Gather stage, so a player is always engaged.
●     Regarding monitzation: players prefer cosmetic microtransactions which don't provide advantages.
●     Provide opportunity to strategize at all stages in the game.
●     Create different "play styles" that allow for users of various physical capacity to participate equally. 
07 Going Forward

My players want an experience with a variety of interactions, both with other players and the play area. 
While the negotiation activity was a good way to open up discussion about different mechanics for the game, it would not be a part of the final app. A better solution would be a variety of mini-games that take advantage of smart phone touch screen technology.
The participatory design session was an excellent way to generate specific, actionable ideas to propel my project into the next step of formulating users personas, task flows, and creating a prototype of my application.

Thanks for taking a look!

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