FIGHTING THE GRAD 15

Duration: 5 weeks | Team: 1

PROBLEM SPACE
Graduate students have a limited budget, limited time and a stressful schedule. It is challenging for them to balance all these factors while staying mentally and physically strong. Many students fall prey to the “Grad 15” (which is my version of the Freshman 15 for graduate students) and it is difficult to understand the tradeoffs between health and work. What if there was an engaging, interactive simulation that helped students understand these challenges as well as track their health effectively?

FIGHTING THE GRAD 15
A persuasive game that aims to help grad students understand how to balance different tradeoffs - budget, time, food choices, stress and daily events.

WHAT MAKES THE GAME CHALLENGING AND ENCOURAGE REPLAY?
The game:
Tests the player’s resource management abilities.
Attempts to spread awareness that consuming less calories does not equal being healthy.
Emulates the real world by presenting resources and events that students deal with daily.
Tests the human nature in pressurizing situations. Eg: Will I help a friend I promised to help or will I finish my own homework?

Achieving a perfect balance of resources is challenging. The player needs money > $0, 1900 < calories < 2100 and stress level< 5, while managing time and different choices. Additionally, competing with one’s own self invokes the urge to play again.

MY ROLE
User research, brainstorming, market research and competitive analysis, wireframing, mockups, iterative design, prototyping and development.

THE PROCESS

As a graduate student who tackles multiple things alongside academics, I decided to create this simulation to spread awareness about the fact that health is more than just eating healthy, it also means being mentally healthy. The process I followed is:

Competitive analysis/market research

Before I started building the game, I carried out a competitive analysis on existing games to understand what is already out there.




Initial mockups


Abstraction of the game

During this phase, I started structuring the game and putting together the core elements such as the variables, the timeline of the game, the outcomes of the game and what message I wanted to game to convey.



Flow

Next, I created a flow chart for how I wanted to game to work



Interactions

Role play as a graduate student facing challenging situations.
Allows the player to skip a meal by not selecting any options if needed.
Direct manipulation: Series of choices can be selected or deselected by clicking.
Transparency: Clickable buttons with clear labels.
Visibility: Immediate feedback can be observed as the progress bars increase and decrease in value.
Feedback provided if the interactor runs out of time.
State of the game: Progress bars and timeline help the interactor understand the state of the game at any point.
Motivation: 15 second timer after which the game automatically proceeds. Tricky to balance multiple tradeoffs (especially calorie intake window of 1900 to 2100.)



Lastly, I used Javascript and JQuery to build the actual prototype. Fun fact: I took about 7 tries to beat my own game.



Interact with the prototype: Password protected here



View the complete prototype presentation here



FUTURE SCOPE

Short term goal:
Add an ‘Achievements’ progress bar to keep track of the academic performance as well.
Multiple avatars.
Larger database of food items.

Long term goal:
Detailed visual feedback by comparing the player’s fitness level to the ideal fitness level.
Players should be able to enter their own body specifications and the game should adapt accordingly.

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