Brain Powered Games - Africa
Role: Technical Designer
Genre: Research Study / Mini-Games / Educational
Development Time: 5 Months (Ongoing)
Team Size: 8
Brain Powered Games - Africa is a series of minigames built to test and improve the cognitive functions of children in Africa who have been exposed to HIV. I helped redevelop the original set of BPG games from 2013 as well as add new games such as a real-time strategy game called Village Builder to test long-term planning and strategy.
Brain Powered Games - Africa is a 2 year project. In the first year I helped finish the first game package which is ready for research studies in Uganda and Malawi, and I helped prototype an initial design of Village Builder that will be the focus for year two.
Redeveloping the original BPG games from 2013
Designing visual-based UI for young children
Creating titrating difficulty for each game
Designing systems for Village Builder
Programming systems for Village Builder
Traveling to Uganda for field testing and training
BPG Africa was different than any other game I've worked on in that it had to be designed for research purposes. The subjects would be very young children, some with brain damage, and we had to make sure the visuals and instructions were understandable. Instead of relying on language we used images that would be familiar to an African child and step by step pictures.
One of the things I also helped with was designing how the games titrated. As the player does well, the games get harder and if the player starts performing poorly, the games get easier. All this also needed to be tracked for research purposes.
Designing For Research
Trip To Uganda
In September 2019, I had a chance to travel to Kampala to field test the BPG Africa games we developed. Me and two others from the team spent a week there testing with children and making changes to the games. We were also there to help train the local researchers in using our game package. By the end of the trip the game package was polished and ready for use for studies in Uganda and Malawi.
While there I also gave a presentation on the current prototype of Village Builder to get feedback on how to proceed with its development.
One big part of the project I was in charge of was designing and prototyping a new real time strategy game called Village Builder. I designed and prototyped the initial systems for resource gathering and building a growing village.
I programmed an automated system of "villagers" being assigned "tasks" that they would perform. Villagers ran on a finite-state-machine and tasks included farming, cutting wood, sleeping, and more.
While prototyping I made sure everything was object-oriented and easy to follow so when the other programmers joined in later in the project, working with and adding to my code was very smooth.