Role - Game Design, Interaction Design, UX
Timeline - 4 months
🏆 CAPL 2023 Outstanding Startup Award
🏆 SF Design Week, Honorable mention
Board game designed to encourage responsible online behavior in teens
Watching my siblings navigate their interactions made me realize that teens are often very excited about using new devices and are not concerned about digital safety. It is common for children to want to share personal information online as they seek high social currency. However, it is important to be aware of the potential risks and drawbacks of this behavior.
How might we make it fun and easy for teens to get familiarized with jargon used on the internet, in order to encourage more responsible online behavior?
With rapidly advancing technology and a dramatic increase in the digital presence, it is important, now more than ever, to encourage responsible use of the internet.
Looking Into The Future
The design of the game makes it extremely versatile where more, newer action cards can be introduced, especially with different themes for each social media channel used. These can be collectibles too where limited edition ones can be designed differently. There is also a possibility of digitization of the game which makes the entire thing even more scalable.
Hack a:tack can be seen as a radical change in the way we approach digital literacy and online safety for teenagers. By making the learning process fun and interactive, we can encourage them to be more responsible with their online behavior, leading to a more just and equitable digital future.
Why design for teenagers?
Octalysis Framework is a game design framework that helped in identifying how an intrinsic approach would make teens play the game because of enjoyment rather than incentives.
The board game
The board game has been designed keeping in mind jargon used on the internet. It’s a simple role play based game where the players can be either the hacker or surfer. The play moves outwards from the center of the board and you can only move to the step that is connected with a line. The goal is simple- complete your task before your opponent completes theirs.
The task cards define the objective for each player. The surfer and the hacker have their own task cards which are drawn randomly at the start of the game and are meant to be kept hidden. Until the last moment, chances are you won’t know what your opponent has unless they complete the task. The game ends when a player has completed their task, which if they do, they need to smack their card, face up and shout hack-a:tack to declare victory.
The key aspect of this game are the action cards. These have been carefully designed to introduce the jargon used on the internet in a fun manner. The top half of the card explains the jargon with the real life meaning and the lower half describes what you can do with it in the game. What’s interesting here is that sometimes when a player plays a card, if the opponent has a card that refutes that, they can play it right after. This is what makes the game strategic.
Why a board game?
Learning with peers
Easy understanding of action and repercussion
Allowing deeper understanding
Encourages screen-off time
Journey of Hack a:Tack
Teens prefer ONLINE CHATTING as their PRIMARY mode of communication
Teens are MORE FREQUENT users of INCOGNITO MODE
Screen time and internet usage are DIRECTLY RELATED
People DO NOT REALIZE what personal information they share over the internet
Children engage with apps for GENERAL PUBLIC rather than child specific apps
Teens have a MINIMAL UNDERSTANDING of what constitutes as cybercrime
Does it really work?
3 formats of user testing
People who had never played the game before and they had to figure it out with a rule sheet designed
Some who played it before and just took it up again
A mixed group where people who played it before explained it to those who were new
"The game was engaging and fun"
"It is difficult to predict who's winning"
"Can I have this specifically for the app I use"
"It takes me a minute to understand the actual word"
"By the way what are cookies?"
On playing the game, very informally, it was observed that when one of the teens opened a website and saw the massage asking to accept cookies, rather than just blindly agreeing, they actually asked this question. This CURIOSITY shows that the jargon from the game and the act of playing the cards left a mark on their mind, which was enough to make them want to know more.