Media Machines: A Game Space Platform For Children


Media Machines is an interactive game for children. It is created for a future reality in which the media has become even more pervasive than it is today. This is an open source hardware platform for educational games, which are meant to teach children critical thinking skills through game play that sparks engagement on a physical, mental, and conversational level. In this project, we meant to address the bias created by the media by playing upon the metaphor that where the lens is pointed is not always the full story. The various levels of gameplay serve as chapters of a story that are carried forward through synced button presses, LED feedback, and projected visuals of the cats and dogs.

What We Did

•  Interactive Game Interface
•  Animated Content in Processing
•  Hardware Software Design

Design Brief

We were tasked with combining two interactive objects from a previous project, to create a product for a dystopian future.

Game Space Interface

Final Presentation Critique

Here we explain a bit of our inspiration (the online game “We Become What We Behold”), our vision, and a bit of our creative process in the making of the game. Feel free to fast-forward to the game.

© 2017 Nathaniel Smith

Final Animations Video

The final video is a combination of screen-recorded Processing animation with fine-tuned timing in Adobe Premiere. A fitting 8-bit tune and additional, sourced animations were chosen to match the “doki-doki” anime-style cat and dog illustrations. The video was then mapped to additional Processing code to play in time with the buttons + LEDs board game.

© 2017 Nathaniel Smith

Play In A Well Lit Room

This is continued play post presentation, to capture what the onscreen animations and the interface, with better image quality.

Usability Gameboard Interface Interactions

Usability tests that were conducted with just the game board interface at the CCA interface show.

Final Code

IDEO Ideation Sessions

Nicholas Pajerksi, senior environments designer at IDEO and our professor, conducted an ideation session for this project on site at IDEO. These images were from those first sessions using the designing thinking process to discover and arrive at our product concept. I often ask people to give me an “awkward thumbs up” when documenting, I feel it connects people to how they already feel when randomly having their picture taken.

Slideshow (Hover to Pause)

Technology Combined Per The Brief

Our brief called for us to combine the products that were the outcome of our last project. On the left is Wei Wei Hsu’s “Button Mashing Game” and on the right is my “Pagoda of Love.” We decided that these components would lend themselves well to the interactions we hoped to create here.

Hardware Build Process Images

These are a few images from the hardware build documentation. They include product design in C4D, the bill of materials planning, and images from the electronics board assembly.

Slideshow (Hover to Pause)

The Game That Inspired Our Work

This game is both amazing and simple, but it elicits complex evaluation of how things work in the world we live in. We played this over and over again to distill it to its formal elements, before we moved into building a game space on the shoulders of what was accomplished here.

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The Smile Factory of Play Testing

As we moved towards presenting, we constantly moved between development and play testing in order to achieve the desired game space experience.

Slideshow (Hover to Pause)

Project Contributors

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