Power Play

An engaging way for kids to learn about government.

Role
Product & Visual Designer, UX Researcher
Team
Arsh Saroya, Feven Debela, Asikur Rahman, Nathnael Solomon
Timeline
October – December 2018 (3 months)
The brief
Middle school kids from the board game club at Seattle Academy asked my team and I to create a product that would teach them about government. Over ten weeks, we created a tablet-based app with interactive stories and trivia to reinforce learning.
Research
Methods
We interviewed three students from Seattle Academy's board game club to find out what they wanted to learn about government. We then interviewed three similarly-aged kids to about how they learn best and what games they like. Finally, we distributed a survey to five kids. Ages ranged from 10-14.
Findings
Design goals
Drawing on our research, we decided our product should be:
Designing for with users
Co-design with kids
We visited Seattle Academy's board game club to run a co-design exercise. Participants had 10 minutes to individually brainstorm ideas for a game about government. Then, we paired them up and asked them to combine the best elements of their ideas to create a new game.
Sketching
As a team, we sketched out ideas and used affinity diagramming to group ours and the kids’ ideas. We narrowed down to three concepts based on our research and design goals.
In Government RPG, users play as a political figure to discover their responsibilities. This satisfied our goals for an interactive, digital, and skill-based game.

Trivia, which allows competing with friends, covers various government topics. This satisfied our turn-based multiplayer requirement.

Build Your Own Country, the combination of the kids’ ideas, has players create a country with the political ideology of their choosing. Users develop skill trees as well as trade with or conquer other countries. This met our skill-based and interactive goals.
Honesty is the best policy
Paper & high-fidelity prototypes
By combining the best elements of our earlier ideas, we created a game that has two major components: learning and trivia. To gain knowledge, users play through interactive scenarios that set them up for trivia, which reinforces learning. After receiving critique on our paper prototype, we created a hi-fi version, which we tested with our users.
Usability testing
With four members of Seattle Academy's board game club, we tested our hi-fi prototypes and received some brutal feedback (kids don't hold back).
Finishing touches
Visual design
I took on defining our visual design and branding for this project. For an app centered around government, my first instinct was to match our primary colors to those of the two major parties. However, I didn't want to create or reinforce bias in our young users. In the spirit of bipartisanship, I chose the result of mixing red and blue — purple. For our dark swatches, I chose a purple-tinted black, thus avoiding true black.
Style guide
Illustrations
In the learning module of our app, illustrations accompany a story to keep users engaged. I defined the style of these illustrations to be simple but interesting and colorful without being over the top, as many apps for kids are.
Final mockups
Reflection
As with any quarter-long project, the time constraint was a limiting factor. If I had more time, I would focus on thoroughly vetting the content with a subject matter expert. Our content writer was a political science major, but feedback from a political science professor at UW would have been helpful. I would also refine the app's visual design further, particularly by improving the illustrations and making them more stylistically consistent.

I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to design with and for kids. Creating something that not only expanded their minds but also brought them excitement was an amazing experience. It helped me realize that my goal as a designer is to solve problems and create joy.