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Original Pitch Ideas

The original 3 pitch ideas for this project were an interactive board game, avatar kiosk system, and mini-game card reader. The interactive board game consisted of playing a game on a multitouch panel against other museum guests as well as users that were logged into the Academy website. However, this was the less desirable option compared to the avatar kiosk and mini-game card reader options. The avatar kiosk system called for the installation of 12 kiosks with 20-30 seconds of interaction time on each. The kiosks would lead the guest to the different sections of the Academy through a guided narrative. The last option, the mini-game card reader, would have 25 small touch screens placed throughout the museums with 10-20 seconds of interaction time. Users would swipe a card to gain points at each touch screen.

At the end of the selection process, it was decided to pursue a combination of the avatar kiosk and mini-game card reader systems. 5 kiosks with 15-20 seconds of interaction time and a card-swiping mechanism would be installed in the Academy as a prototype of the system.

Hardware Considerations

Originally we had planned to use touch-screen kiosks (www.displays4media.co.uk), but because of the Academy’s agreement with Apple to place only Apple products on the floor, we switched to using iPads. As the release of the iPads was on April 3rd and our opening was April 22nd, we had to develop the games using the iPad SDK.

Mini-Game Content Development

The original 5 mini-game ideas were a helping a penguin through a labyrinth (Africa Hall, see Figure X), finding camouflaged animals in a photograph (Aquarium), putting species in their order of evolution (Islands of Evolution Exhibit), angling solar panels to maximize energy absorption (Entrance to Living Roof), and identifying animals based on an audio/video clip (Outside of Naturalist Center).

Once the locations of the kiosks were finalized (see Reference A), the games were modified. The following 5 mini-games were presented: drawing constellations (Planetarium Exit), feeding penguins (Africa Hall), angling solar panels (Altered State Exhibit), finding camouflaged animals in a photograph (Aquarium), and guiding an animal through the rainforest (Rainforest Exit). Based on conversations with the Academy, the feeding penguin game was changed to a game about penguin survival to teach guests about the daily challenges penguins face. Due to concerns that the solar panel game would not have a fun enough mechanic, the game was switched to a game about collecting recyclable material.

Avatar Development

Two avatar designs were presented for selection using the Academy’s styleguide as reference (see Figure X). The shorter, more stylized avatar was chosen.