Overview

The Game-a-thon Challenge, is an annual challenge where K-12 students design and build their own math games, and then share a video of their game for the rest of the world to see.

I started as a User Experience Designer and quickly grew to the Project Lead for the initiative:

  • Website for viewing information and submissions
  • Worksheet packets for class projects
  • Workshops to teach kids the fundamentals of game design
  • Booth at annual Math Fair for communities to participate together
  • Community relationship-building to cultivate volunteers and advocates
Building the Initiative
The Game-a-thon started as a simple project to get kids to build math games. I was asked to join the project, based on my experience building a similar campaign with Caine's Arcade / Imagination Foundation. The Game-a-thon became a huge success that now recurs annually, but had very humble beginnings.
1

We started planning out the entire ecosystem of the Game-a-thon initiative, including the Website/Submission Form, Rules of the Challenge, and Live Design Workshops.

Website Development
The website was key to the experience as the primary touchpoint for participants. I used a combination of Flow Diagrams, Task Analysis, Red Routes Analysis, Wireframes, and Mockups to make sense of the full process.
1

Task Analysis helped us understand and talk about the web-based touchpoint of the Game-a-thon experience, making sure we were thinking through all the possibilities.

1

Hi-fi Mockups of the website were made and submitted for coding.

Usability Testing
I conducted continual Usability Tests before launch, and after each year to look for ways to improve the experience.
1

Red Route Analysis helped identify the most used and sought-after features to ensure those received primary attention.

1

A Mental Model aggregated the feedback from test participants, giving us a clearer picture of the types of concerns and thoughts our users had.

Workshops & "Starter Kit"
The growth of the Game-a-thon required touchpoints and promotion beyond just the challenge, so we developed workshops to teach students about Game Design principles. The workshop acted as a test for our downloadable "Starter Kit", which would empower teachers to run their own independent workshops.
3

I lead a workshop with students at the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, CA, where we did a 45-minute session of learning the different steps of designing their own games and understanding what "learning goals" are.

Booth Experience
To promote the Game-a-thon, we also created a booth at our annual Math Fair event. Over 1,000 people attended at the first event in Irvine, CA and the second in Chicago, IL. The booths featured a wide range of recycled materials, game-building workshops to teach students about the math behind the games, and digital game stations to introduce younger students to programming.
1

At the booth, kids were able to design and build their own games with materials gathered from a variety of craft and recycled material facilities.

2

Small workshops gave select groups of kids the opportunity to design and build games within the structure of our Starter Kit. This also served as an additional live-usability-test of our Starter Kit.

Project Complete!