Pico’s Adventure: A Kinect Game to Promote Social Initiation in Children with Autism Spectrum Condition

Pico’s Adventure: A Kinect Game to Promote Social Initiation in Children with Autism Spectrum Condition

 

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Pico’s Adventure is a Kinect game for children with autistic spectrum disorder, aimed at promoting social initiation. The project was part of the European Project “M4all: motion- based adaptable playful learning experiences for children with motor and intellectual disabilities” and developed in the collaboration between the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and the Specialized Unit on Developmental Disorders of the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu.

My role

During my Phd  I have been working in the design and evaluation of the game “Pico’s Adventure” . Specifically, I focused in the requirements elicitation, participatory design, evaluation and reporting.

Defining the project

schermata-2016-10-17-alle-19-47-31Context: European Project “M4all: motion- based adaptable playful learning experiences for children with motor and intellectual disabilities”

Goal: Develop  a Kinect-based game for children with Autistic Spectrum Condition aimed toward promoting social initiation, understood as the promotion of behaviors such as approaching and looking for others, trying to start social communication and producing any verbal or gestural behavior for communicative goals.

Target users: 4-6 children with Autistic Spectrum Condition

The concept:  THE GAME AS A MEDIATOR OF SOCIAL COMMUNICATION = Design situations that:

  •  Are valuable for the children to communicate about them
  • Integrate therapeutic techniques used to facilitate social initiation
  • Require the child to look for external collaboration

Challenges

  • Make an experience that is relevant for children and effective in terms of therapeutic goals
  • Orchestrate requirements from therapists and children’s interests
  • Test the therapeutic effectiveness of the developed game

The Design Approach

  • Elicit and combine requirements from therapists and children

Approach: Narrative- based elicitation to combine narrative structure and therapeutic techniques

Method: Participatory Design with Children and Focus Groups with therapists

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  • Iterative Design and Evaluation : field notes, video analysis, questionnaire for stakeholders feedbacks

The Game

During the game, the children will be introduced to a fantasy world inhabited by a friendly mascot (the virtual agent), named “Pico”, who will accompany them in the journey toward social initiation. Children – either alone or in collaboration with adults and peers – will have to help the mascot, an amicable alien, who landed on our planet Earth after having some problems with its spaceship. Children will have to help it in overcome different missions, each one designed to address a targeted behavior related with social initiation. Within that, major emphasis will be posed on designing game situations that require the child to seek for the collaboration either of an adult or a peer.

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The evaluation

The game has been evaluated in two stages: a first exploratory stage aimed at evaluating its acceptance by the child, and a second experimental study oriented at assessing the effectiveness of the game in trigger target behaviors related with social initiation.

Experimental study

schermata-2016-10-17-alle-21-38-09Population: The study  involved 15 boys with ASD between 4 and 5 years old.

Goals: In the study we compare social interaction between free-plays activities and games activity

Methods: For the analysis we employed systematic video-coding by focusing specifically on: Social requests, Social initiation, Responses, Gestures

 

Results

schermata-2016-10-17-alle-20-41-27Results show a significant increase of social initiation behaviors in 1st and 4th game sessions compared to free play (p< 0.05)

 

 

 

 

Lessons Learned

  • The use of narrative resources showed to be an effective mediator between different disciplines, framework and generations.
  • We develop a set of effective participatory design methods for populations with special needs
  • Effectiveness of immersive, bodily-based interaction to support social initiation and collaborative behaviors

Related publications

Malinverni, L., Mora-Guiard, J., Padillo, V., Valero, L., Hervás, A., & Pares, N. (2016). An inclusive design approach for developing video games for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Computers in Human Behavior.

Malinverni, L., MoraGuiard, J., Padillo, V., Mairena, M., Hervás, A., & Pares, N. (2014, June). Participatory design strategies to enhance the creative contribution of children with special needs. In Proceedings of the 2014 conference on Interaction design and children (pp. 85-94). ACM.

Mora-Guiard, J., Malinverni, L., Pares, N., (2014) Narrative-Based Elicitation: Orchestrating Contributions from Experts and Children, in CHI ’14 Extended Abstracts Proceedings of ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Toronto, Canada

THE GAME “PICO’S ADVENTURE”  IS AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOADING FOR WINDOWS 7 or WINDOWS 8 in the following webpage: http://m4all.widetesting.info/

Lands of fog: Participatory Design with Autistic Children

Lands of fog: Participatory Design with Autistic Children

“Lands of Fog” is an open-ended Full-Body Interaction Environment designed for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to play with a typically developed peer. The experience has the goal of promoting exploration and of scaffolding social and collaborative behaviors between users. The project was founded by RecerCaixa grant.

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My role

During my Phd  I have been collaborating in the design of  the experience. Specifically, my role focused on defining, carrying out and analyzing participatory design activities with children with Autism Spectrum Condition

The project

Goal: Develop a Full-Body Interaction experience for children with Autistic Spectrum Condition aimed toward promoting social initiation, understood as the promotion of behaviors such as approaching and looking for others, trying to start social communication and producing any verbal or gestural behavior for communicative goals.

Target users: 10-12 years old children with Autistic Spectrum Condition

The concept:  

  • The game as a mediator of social interaction
  • Support collaboration without enforcing it

Challenges

  • Involve autistic children in the design of an interactive experience
  • Define methods to facilitate children expressing their own interests and understandings around the experience
  • Define analytical approaches capable of taking into account meanings and aspects that cannot be expressed by words

Children as partners in the design ideation stage

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In the initial stage of development, we conducted a PD workshop, based on the “children-as-informants” model with four children with ASD (mean age: 11). During the workshop, children we employed a Wizard-of-Oz prototype of the experience and carried out a set of specific activities.

  • The explorer activity: children in pairs were invited to interact with the prototype and take pictures of anything that captured their interests
  • The detective activity: children who were not playing were invited to watch their playing peers and try to guess what are they doing
  • The designers activity: children were asked to make drawing to depict how they would like to improve the environment

The initial prototype

The system was based on a 6-meter diameter floor projected virtual environment, which is covered by virtual fog. Users explore and interact with the environment using a butterfly net that allows them to open peepholes in the fog and discover what is hidden underneath.  

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A multimodal approach to analyse children’s contributions

To analyze these activities, we employed multimodal analysis and focused on:

  1. children’s exploration of the space (their position, paths, pauses and relative speed),
  2. their gaze and the pictures they took during the interaction with the system
  3. their verbal interactions
  4. their drawings and related explanations

Data were annotated on map for each child and analyzed according to a grounded approach

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Findings

  • Children were particularly interested in detailed and liminal areas and in exploring the fog appearance
  • They tended to interpret the underlying environment as a geographical map
  • The act of moving around with the net was associated with the task of hunting or collecting something according to a strictly functional perspective (e.g. “You have to collect animals to make points”)
  • Strong influence of videogames culture

Informing design

The performed analysis allowed us to identify some relevant aspects to be addressed in future design iterations:

  • the use of the virtual fog showed to be an effective design choice to promote exploration. Future design iterations can eventually address the refinements of the fog’s behavior to enrich the possibilities for sensorimotor exploration
  • a realistic and videogame-like graphical style may be adequate to capture children’s attention and foster exploratory behaviors.
  • children’s tendency to interpret the environment as a large space (i.e. a continent) pointed out some possible issues related to defining an adequate scale of the experience
  • children’s lack of interest toward their peers requires a strong effort to promote more collaborative ways of interacting during the experience.  To tackle this latter issue, possible design solutions can use videogames mechanics as motivators of social interaction.

 

Lessons Learned

  • Multimodal analysis showed to be an effective approach to analyze users contributions across multiple sources and inform design
  • Relevance of analyzing users’ understandings across multiple modalities

 

Related publications

Malinverni, L., Mora-Guiard, J., & Pares, N. (2016). Towards methods for evaluating and communicating participatory design: A multimodal approach.International Journal of Human-Computer Studies.

Participatory Design Strategies with Children with Special Needs

Participatory Design Strategies with Children with Special Needs

During the last year I worked in different participatory design processes to design video games for and with children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Pico’s Adventure

In 2013, I designed and facilitated a 10 sessions workshop for children with ASD to co-design the game Pico’s Adventure. The game “Pico’s Adventure” was funded by the European project M4ALL and aimed at scaffolding social interaction in children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

During the project I have been in charge of organizing and carry on the participatory design with ASD children. Four children worked with us as “co-designers” to transform defined goals into an enjoyable playful experience and evaluate which aspects elicit higher level of motivation and interest in children.

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The workshop took place in the “Hospital Sant Joan de Deu“ on a weekly basis. The participants selected by the UETD professionals were four children how joined a total of five sessions, during which they were designing, discussing, drawing and experimenting with us in order to create an interesting and enjoyable game. The experience has been incredibly enriching both from the point of view of the research and the game design. We are very thankful to the “co-designer” children for their contributions!

For more informations visit: http://lab4.ccp.upf.edu/

Land’s of Fog

During 2015, I designed and facilitated a 4 sessions workshop for children with ASD to co-design the game Land’s of Fog. The game “Land’s of fog” was funded by the RecerCaixa 2013 grant (Feb/2014 to Jan/2016). The research project investigates how a full-body interactive environment can foster social initiation behaviours in children with Autism while interacting with typically developed children.

During the project I have been in charge of organizing and carry on the participatory design with 4 ASD children. In the different sessions of the workshop we worked together to design the environment of the game, its characters and their behaviors.

For more informations visit: http://inautistic.upf.edu/

Publications about the projects:

In case you want to know more information about the design process and methods you can read:

– Malinverni, L., Mora-Guiard, J., & Pares, N. (2016). Towards methods for evaluating and communicating participatory design: A multimodal approach.International Journal of Human-Computer Studies.

– Malinverni, L., Mora-Guiard, J., Padillo, V., Valero, L., Hervás, A., & Pares, N. (2016). An inclusive design approach for developing video games for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Computers in Human Behavior.

– Mora-Guiard, J., Malinverni, L., Pares, N., (2014) Narrative-Based Elicitation: Orchestrating Contributions from Experts and Children, in CHI ’14 Extended Abstracts Proceedings of ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Toronto, Canada

– Malinverni, L., Mora-Guiard, J., Padillo, V., Mairena, M.A., Hervás, A., Pares, N., (2014) Participatory Design Strategies to Enhance the Creative Contribution of Children with Special Needs, in Proceedings of the 2014 Conference on Interaction Design and Children, IDC2014, Aarhus, Denmark