Post Jam | Activity 5: Polish and Refine
The NMSU designers reviewed the requests and identified the best use of resources. These included updating some art and interface graphics for usability, such as making clickable color elements (the game was in black and white due to the film noir theme). They created additional visual cues in the game, such as letting the user know when all clues had been collected, and added guiding features to the map. The team also expanded artwork for the characters and upgraded graphics of some scenes to replace the placeholder art used in the jam prototype. From a content perspective, the game was enhanced with additional examples of GMO and non-GMO products on the shelves. Members of the UConn and NMSU teams attended the professional development conference for the Association for Communication Excellence and conducted a sharing session among communication professionals. The purpose of the session was to gain feedback from communication professionals and determine best steps for having the game prototype used by Extension programs nationally. Feedback received from session participants included changing names in the game to eliminate any possibility of character stereotyping. NMSU designers adjusted the names of the characters in the game accordingly. After the changes were made, the designers conducted a thorough bug test and quality assurance review. The designers also set up the prototype on a website for easier distribution and included a link to facilitate feedback from participants. There were a few requested changes that were not feasible given the budget and time constraints, but the larger team agreed to note that these desired changes were incorporated into the funding case statement created by the UConn team for further development of this project. Final Result The result of the modified process is an entertaining, playable game. While it is considered a prototype by design standards, the self-contained story allows users to learn several important pieces of information in a short time period. The entire process is valuable because it provides crucial information for funding applications, including constraints related to language. An inclusive game would include culturally relevant food items and be available in multiple languages, and this proof of concept provides efficacy evidence that can strengthen proposals.
In addition to the game, this process provided guidelines and a clear pathway for expansion into a full game, as well as specific requests for enhancements.
This project also created a new partnership between the two universities, and engaged the content experts and the designers in an immersion process: the UConn content experts were able to engage in game design and evaluation, and the NMSU designers were able to better understand the content messages and audiences. While both teams can take their experiences into future projects, the collaborative work also serves as a basis for future development among all team members.
Finally, this project yielded a modified game jam format, which can be used by other Extension educators to engage in game design.
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