The Challenge
During Ht-123 Informal Learning , a course offered at Harvard Graduate School of Education, my team was challenged to develop an informal learning method for children and young people’s health, fitness, and/or well-being. We were tasked with delivering a proposal and a pitch.

The Approach
My team decided to focus on self-esteem and reproductive health for pre-adolescent teen girls. We determined we would share factual information about reproductive health and self esteem through a mobile game.

The Discovery
Our research supported our initial hypothesis that there is a need for self-esteem and reproductive education for pre-adolescent teen girls.  We learned from a 2013 study from Common Sense Media that sexualized content on TV doubled between 1998 and 2005; sexual content now exists in 68% of TV shows. Additionally, according to the scholarly article, “Unintended pregnancy in the United States: Incidence and disparities”, only 65% of schools provide any sex education; of those, less than 60% provide instruction on condom use (Finer & Zolna, 2011).

We held a focus group with middle girls at local middle school as our formative evaluation. I and another teammate presented our prototypes, storylines, and asked key questions surrounding the girls interest outside of the classroom. Our other teammates performed observations in order to understand how the girls in our study were reacting to our stories and questions.

We also performed market research in order to determine if other companies were fulfilling this gap in knowledge through games.

The Vision
The goal of our mobile game was to:

  • – Present factual information in a fun and relevant manner
  • – Utilize game mechanics similar to popular games for our target market
  • – Develop supporting curriculum surrounding the game to ensure our target market can also utilizes the game in conjunction with out of school organizations

The Requirements
Based on the feedback from our formative evaluation some items made sure to include:

  • – Popular media references
  • – Fashionable dressing options
  • – Characters personally selected by participants

The Framework
As a team we came up with multiple ideas of how to implement the game. We each drew prototypes. My prototype and story mechanics obtained the most approval and we used it in addition to our target user feedback to create the game PowerUp.

The Design
PowerUp is a choose-your-own adventure simulator game, where based on the decisions a users makes causes their avatar to experience various scenarios. From getting pregnant, to assertively declining a date, pre-adolescent girls were presented with a number of scenarios that they may or may not experience in life. My teammate developed the characters and I developed the scenes using Adobe Illustrator.

Example Scenario for User
Example Scenario for User

The Refinement
Unfortunately due to the short time we were not able to reschedule another meeting with our target users, but if we were afforded more time, our product would continue through the iteration phase to understand if our users find the game fun and if they are learning from the game.

The Result
At the end of the course we developed a pitch, proposal, and prototype of the game