The Hidden Village – Online by Ariel Fogel

COURSE: ART 556: Graphic Design for Interactive Media

MEDIUM: Web Application / Game

This submission represents a combination of game development (i.e., visual novels), augmented reality, and experiment design. Though originally developed in the context of a course, I am using this submission as an experimental platform to collect data for my masters thesis. The goal of this platform is to explore how certain movements/gestures can help high school and college students better understand/reason about geometry concepts. To achieve this goal, players follow along a story and are then prompted along the way to perform certain movements and then solve a geometry logic puzzle. As the story requires players to be at a distance from the keyboard and mouse, a novel interface was designed to navigate. Only a computer with a webcam enabled is necessary to play.

I created The Hidden Village – Online to solve a problem — my lab was running experiments an older version that needed external hardware (i.e., Microsoft Kinect) that was difficult to set up, was difficult to change, and was prone to errors. Once the pandemic started, I realized these constraints made running experiments far too challenging. Additionally, the Microsoft Kinect is relatively old technology and could not detect finger or facial movements used while gesturing. So I wondered — would it be possible to build an updated version of this experimental platform that could be used in a pandemic? Specifically, one that could be reached online and only require a laptop with a webcam? Thus, The Hidden Village – Online was born.

Given that the domain players are asked about is geometry, the design aesthetic was inspired by the Bauhaus style. As this submission was meant to be both a game and an experimental platform, I wanted to imbue it with a playful design. For this reason, I chose a bright, simple color scheme, a playful sans-serif font, and created simple geometric characters with whom the player interacts. My hope is that these aspects counterbalance the relatively rigid requirements of the experiment which may sap continued engagement.

View this project! (Webcam access required)