Today was bring your child(ren) to work day at Walmart Labs. We needed to come up with activities to entertain our miniature guests, so we decided to run a guided design studio for kids! We took over our large conference room for the day and outfitted each participant with a goody bag containing markers, colored pencils, and sugar. Lots of sugar.
As anyone with kids, or retired summer camp counselors like myself can attest, it's not easy getting 10 children all hopped up on sugar to focus on a workflow, so the design of the studio itself needed to have a flow that was open-ended enough to allow our child design team to be completely imaginative while still achieving an end result. We (myself, Dev manager Scott Anderson, and fellow UXers Chad Mortenson and Micheal Selby) decided to have them create an iPad game, from scratch! Here's the trick: they didn't know they were making a game at first. That was saved for the end, the big reveal.
The themes we wanted to convey through our activity were collaboration, teamwork and ideation. We wanted to illustrate that by working together we can create something greater than any single imagination, an end product whose ingenuity was greater than the sum of its parts.
We're going to create a story as a group first by identifying the common components of every story (who, when/where, what, why, how). Then, we'd have them identify the qualities of each of those components by drawing individual ideas onto post-it notes and placing them on the whiteboard. Last, we'll create the final climactic moment of our story, with a surprise ending: we'd turn it into an iPad game!!
Me: Today we're going to create a fictional story together. Doesn't that sound like fun!?! (no response) So, what makes up a really great story? What do all stories have in common?
Our cast of characters:
- Rupert: An adventurous boy of 15 years who loves apples. He rides a motorcycle, wields a semi-automatic weapon of some sort, has short brown hair, wears a sweatsuit.
- Hairy Pudding: A sentient, robotic bowl of pudding with hair. He has jet propulsion which enables him to fly around and find a "host body." He docks to the top of his victim's head and using his wand, can control their thoughts. He's 112 years old and adored by all (most likely through mind control). He's also very dedicated to all things.
- Fiona: The smart one. She's 13 years old, wears a beret and has a French accent. She wears Crocs with socks, has long hair, and is a twin.
- O'Laina: A bilingual 13 year old who speaks English and Russian. She's an orphan, but powerful. She has short hair, and wears a tank top, skirt, boots, and fingerless gloves.
Here's our epic story climax in full detail:
The year is 2048. In a post-apocalyptic city in Arkansas, USA, amidst a landscape speckled with tall buildings and lightning. There is also water, somewhere. Our main character Rupert is being possessed by Hairy Pudding (affixed to his head), and has turned evil! Rupert rides his motorcycle up to the abandoned 7-11, where he meets best friends Fiona and O'Laina. They've been scouring Arkansas collecting the ingredients of a magical cure to all of the diseases plaguing the world: Pudding-possession, Zombification, and Orcism. They find the final ingredient to their magical potion in the bottom of a Cracker Jack box - a Mirror toy. The potion is complete! And just in the nick of time, they cure Rupert, turning Hairy Pudding into a good robot pudding-bowl, remaining friends all the while.
Building the main character Rupert (in throes of Hairy Pudding possession) into our iPad game using the app "Bloxels".
How fun! The design team was able to see how the final product was made through collaboration, and I was able to waste hours of work-time sketching a sentient, robotic bowl of pudding with jet propulsion.