An inclusive educational board game
LISANNE: Hello, welcome, in this presentation, we will show you the development of an inclusive educational board game, Schip Ahoy, which is Dutch and literally means Ship Ahoy. We will talk about the design of the game and the user tests we did with visually impaired and sighted pupils. Initially, we would have loved to show you the real physical product, so you will be able to touch and/or see it and even play the game. But due to the unfortunate circumstances, we have to present the game online and we will do our best to describe everything as good as possible. We hope we can trigger your imagination to some extent. The present sheet shows the case of the board game, in front with five islands, surrounded by sea water, but also what's in the case, like manuals and braille and in print and colourful pawns, next slide. I would like to introduce ourselves first. My name is Lisanne Aardoom and I'm working as a product manager of Tactile Images and Music at Dedicon in the Netherlands. Dedicon is a nonprofit organisation which makes existing texts and images accessible for people with reading disabilities. Co-presenter is my colleague, Anne Bottenheft, a specialist on image description. Next slide please. On the present sheet, we see a child busy with positioning pawns on the board, during the testing of the prototype. Playing a board game is a fun social activity often with a lot of educational value. Children acquire new skills such as thinking ahead, planning, working together, keeping overview and of course losing. People with a visual impairment are often still excluded from this all, especially because the innovative designs of board games are becoming more and more complex and visual. We think that visually impaired pupils should have more opportunities to play board games with their peers. That's why Dedicon decided to develop an inclusive educational board game. We wanted to design a board game in such a way that you just can get a basic set with materials, like a tactical overlay chips, a dice, and pawns. A visual base and corresponding manual can be designed specifically for certain themes. In this project, we only had enough grants to design a board game for one theme. Ideally, you can change the base and manual depending on the theme of your interests. The base and corresponding short explanations of the various themes would then be available for downloading and printing. ext slide. The present sheets shows various prototypes of the board and the overlay made of different materials like paper, card boards, thermo form, and some 3D printed objects. During the design phase, we were confronted with several challenges. I will discuss the main ones. The first one is the integration of an educational elements while finding a good balance between a fun to play board game and an educational board game. Apart from that, the game should be easy to grasp and fun to play even after a number of times of playing. Also, the visual base should be evidence, but also intriguing to see for both visually impaired as well as sighted pupils. Besides, the tactile overlay should be designed in such a way that it can be used for other game themes as well. However, blind users should be able to find special squares easily by themselves. Being able to mark squares flexibly is a requirement for making the game inclusive. The next challenge concerned the pawns. Pawns should remain in a square on the board. Users must be able to feel which square they are in and they should not easily knock them over when reaching out for them. Finally, the sequence of making steps with your pawn should be logically structured for blind users. We found in a preliminary test that the spiral sequence used for example, in the Game of the Gurus doesn't work well for blind children. So these challenges made it even more fun to design the materials. Our team got very creative. Through rapid prototyping, we came up with the final design. Anna will tell you a bit more about this.
ANNE: First, I would like to give you an impression of how the game works, where after I would like to describe the physical materials of the game. Once again, we see the sheet upon which a child is positioning pawns on the test board. The games, Schip Ahoy, can be played from the age of eight years old, from the age of eight years old. The game's designed for two to five players, it's about being fast and about collecting treasures on the islands, Foula, Boa Vista, Christmas Island, Hokkaido, and Pretoria. On these islands, you also have to carry out special assignments, for example, you decided to colour with a Shetland ponies, despite the bad weather, skip one turn. The game is enriched with extras to remain attractive even after playing a dozen times. The first extra is a travel story. With a travel story, you will learn more about the five islands, like fun facts about the crabs on Christmas Island or about the freezing cold climate and walruses on Pretoria Island. All this to invite and inspire to players like one girl who participated in the user tests. She started telling a funny joke about a polar bear. The second extra is a large A3 tactile map of the world, now present at the sheet. On this map, the islands and the sailing road are indicated. The map is also provided in large print. Next slide, on the present sheet, we can see the game board, which consists of a visual base that shows five islands surrounded by sea water and a transparent, tactile overlay, transparent, tactile overlay. The tactile overlay goes on top of the visual base and both are attached to each other with two slide binders on the short side. Next to the game board, we can see some chips and a tactile dice on the table. Next slide, please. The board consists of five rows and each row has six squares. In front of and behind each row, the number of the row is indicated by horizontal dashes. So one dash is row one and so on. Each square has a number from one to six, styled like the side of a dice, and also made tactile. The player whose turn it is, places the board on the table in front of him. When it's the next player's turn, he has to slide the board carefully to the other player on the table. Thus nobody has to play upside down. Squares on the tactile overlay that are special and contain an assignment can be marked flexibly with small rings as we can see on the one of the current sheets. This allows blind children to find their way swiftly and offers creation to sighted and partially sighted player when the visual base would be replaced. As already mentioned, the base shows five islands surrounded by sea water in different shades of blue, featuring a sandy beach islands, a tropical island with a Kreb, a green isle with Shetland ponies and an Arctic isle homebase of a polar bear. One of the images in the sheet shows the 3D printed pawns in various colours and naturally with distinct shapes so players can easily tell them apart. Of course the thought-out menu comes with all these provided in braille and large print, so everyone can become game master. In that case, it's your job to read out loud the extras like parts of the travel story or a special assignment on an Island, like a lot of excitement and process going on at the isle of Hokkaido. say hello or linger on, throw the dice to make up your mind.
LISANNE: In the development phase, before we got to the final design, we made a prototype so we could test the game. First, we took the chance to play the game ourselves. This was fun and also instructive. We came across interesting things that could be improved. After this, we tested the game in two primary schools, one regular school, and one focusing on visually impaired pupils. The current sheet shows two pupils in action while testing. The age of the participants ranged from nine to 11, two blind children, three visually impaired and two sighted. At both schools, also a tutor was participating. The children couldn't wait playing the game. We observed and took notes pretending not to be there while they played the game. When they finished and there was a winner, we asked the pupils and their tutors questions. The children thought the game was fun and still interesting even after playing it two times. After the game, they discussed what had happened. They said things like, I stole two treasures on that spot. I'm not a child, shall we play one more time? A sighted girl said that she liked game because blind people can see a bit better now. Some of them said that it was the best day of school so far. And the visually impaired boy said that this game is good for his eyes and that other games are much less clear, next slide. Both participating schools reacted positively. And we also came across several aspects that could be improved. We integrated them into the final design. I will now discuss the most important findings of the user tests. The tactile overlay was clear for the blind pupils to identify islands and move from square to square although with a little bit of guidance in the beginning. This ensured that they could navigate without difficulty making them feel included in the game. This also applies to the other physical materials, like the pawns, dice, chips, and special squares marked with small rings. The children were able to distinguish and identify them although with a bit of help in the beginning. Some elements of the visual base needed higher contrast. However, according to the pupils and tutors, shapes and colours shouldn't be too simple. Otherwise it would not longer be interesting for the sighted students. A nice balance is crucial. In the prototype, a tactile world map was discussed in the manual before the explanation of the game. Also the travel story was integrated in the explanation of the game. This made the children impatient. They wanted to start playing immediately. The tutor advices to first explain the game itself in the manual and then add the travel story and the world map as an extension so they can use these extras after they have played it several times. The children did find the extra information interesting to them. For example, a visually impaired boy placed a world map in front of him and was inspecting the map carefully by himself. One remark was that the tactile map of the world was still a bit too difficult for children at this age. That's why we've added these as an extra so that they don't get too much information at the beginning and maintain patience to understand the game priorly. According to the tutors for children who are slightly older, the map will be easier to understand. ANNA: We recently put everything into production. The present sheet shows a photo of the appealing case with accessories and also photos of the proceeding process, like two 3D printers in action. The moving print head of the Ultimaker is stacking the layers, which together construct an orange coloured chip. From the 15th of December, 2020, people were able to order the game, Schip Ahoy, in our web shop.
LISANNE: We hope we gave you a comprehensive but concise presentation about the inclusive education and board game redesigned. We are very curious to hear from you. All ideas, feedback and remarks are more than welcome. We also interested in your own experience with inclusive games. And last but not least, we would welcome all your ideas about exploring possibilities to develop and or exchange content together. My details are on the Congress website and on this slide. Thank you for your attention. And I'm looking forward to hear from you. This project was made possible in part by grants from (speaks in foreign language) and (speaks in foreign language) Thank you very much and have a nice day.