Elemental Tetrads

To explore the actual design and structure of this game we are using Jesse Schell’s book The Art of Game Design. One of the “lenses” he uses to look at games is the lens of the elemental tetrad. There are 4 components to the tetrad:

  • Mechanics
  • Story
  • Aesthetics
  • Technology

How does our game fit into the 4 Tetrads?

  1. Mechanics – These are the guidelines, rules, and procedures which give structure to our game. Our target audience is autistic children, in this light, our game mechanics must be direct and straight forward. The backbone for the game will be a “quiz”. We will try to hide the nature of the quiz in an interactive environment which immerses the player. At different positions in the environment, the player will interact with npcs which will question the player about the scene, environment, or the things in the environment. This way though the player will be answering questions, it will not seem like a direct quiz, but more of a puzzle. The puzzle and “quiz” is intended to provide the player with an educational experience, enhancing their understanding of emotions and how people work and interact in large social settings. This is a primary symptom of austism.

  2. Story – The environment we have chosen is child’s birthday party. A birthday party provides ample opportunities to explore the feelings and emotions of others. There are children, who wear there emotions on theirs sleeves, and adults, which can provide a more sophisticated exploration of emotions. Perhaps the adults will provide a sort of “leveling” system for the game. The player will enter a house with various rooms. In each room there will be a different scene unfolding, for example a parents cutting a cake with a child eager and excited for a piece. Then perhaps another room where kids are playing games and one child is crying, while an adult scurries to the rescue wearing frustration on their face. As the player navigates the scene the story will unfold and they player will be exposed to a wider variety of emotions in different levels of complexity.

  3. Aesthetics – Our game is going to be designed and presented using Blender, a 3D graphic design suite with a reasonably sophisticated and rapidly growing game engine. The house and the characters in the house will probably be found as free models available online. This way we can save time and focus on the psychology and interface for our game, which are the two areas of focus.

  4. Technology – The technology we are using is going to make our game very unique and hopefully much more accessible to autistic children. To interact with most graphical games requires a medium, some sort of controller or gadget that must be manipulated to provide input to the game. This extra level of abstraction will make reaching the autistic children that much more difficult. By using a hands free, natural user interface, it will innately peak interest in the player, while also providing a more immersive experience. We have chosen our interface to be Xbox’s Kinect Sensor. Using their hand, the player will move a hand model in the game to interact with the environment. This will be directly used for, but not limited to, selecting certain answer choices while interacting with the npcs at the party.
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