Project type: 2nd semester Medialogy university project
Made: May 2012
My fields: Programming, Project management, Design, Audio
Time spent on this project: 1 month (including 100 pages report)
Tools used: Unity 3.5, Zigfu Unity Wrapper, Photoshop, Audacity, sfxr, Visual Studio C# Express
DOWNLOAD: Monster Mixer
About this project:
Pokémon meets Kinect meets awesome learning game for school children.
Monster Mixer is a Kinect-based learning game developed in Unity during my second semester at Medialogy. The project lasted from February to May, and a written report of 100 pages was required (see download link). The theme for the semester was Interaction Design – Human Computer Confluence and the subtheme was Assistive Technology.
All members in the group received the grade 12 (similar to an A) at the oral examination of the project.
The game is aimed at Danish children age 6-9 and has the purpose of training their phonological awareness (listening skills) in the hope of preventing the children developing dyslexia later in life.
Dyslexia is a broad term used for describing people with reading and learning disabilities. It’s a language-based disorder that is caused by varying degrees of faulty wiring in the brain. Instead of realizing that a word consists of different units, e.g. the word “cat” as the phonemes “c + aaa + t”, dyslectics hear it as just one sound. Dyslectics have a hard time reading and writing, because they have difficulties with making a link between the sounds (phonemes) and letters (graphemes). This makes it hard to decode written text.
Reading is a complex action that consists of multiple cognitive processes. It requires two main abilities: decoding and comprehension. The goal of Monster Mixer is to help the children become better at decoding by listening to nonsense words and be able to distinguish the sounds.
The game is about catching and mixing monsters. Each monster represents a sound, and the goal is to combine two sounds/monsters into a new sound/monster. This is done using the Kinect where the player has to perform gestures to catch the monsters:
- Slicing gesture to catch tall monsters
- Jumping gesture to catch flying monsters
- Stomping gesture to catch flat monsters
When the monsters are caught, the player goes to monster mixing machine and tries to mix them together. If the mixing is a success, a new monster appears, and the player can grab a screenshot of himself with the monsters.
The report abstract
Monster Mixer is a game developed for the Xbox Kinect camera to help children train phonological awareness with the goal of preventing the impact of dyslexia. The game is about catching and mixing monsters using the body as an input device. Each monster represent a sound in the form of nonsense words. These sounds are used to prevent the children recognizing the words from previous experiences. The purpose of the game is to make the player listen for the monsters and then mix them together to get new monsters. Monster Mixer is based on the kinesthetic learning style. The Kinect provides new ways within the field of interactivity and can be used as supplement to the traditional education system. In Monster Mixer, the Kinect is used to detect various gestures to catch the monsters. Three prototypes were developed to test the concept: two lo-fi prototypes and one hi-fi prototype. The two latter were tested by children age 6-9. The tests showed positive result, and the children appeared to be engaging. Even though it is not possible to directly say whether the game in the long-term improves phonological awareness, it seems to take a step in the right direction. The children were very positive about the game and some wanted to have it at their homes.
Anne Juhler Hansen
Kasper Urban Kajgaard