The process of designing our own social media platform has taken a couple of turns we didn’t expect when we started. What started as a vague idea of socializing nerds has taking shape as a game companion application with media upload options. How did that happen? As stated in our first proposal, we wanted to help people find new connections based on their gaming hobbies. We wanted them to create clans and socialize in them with no other purpose than relationship creation. Then we realised that’s just not good enough. So we floated from an app functioning as a personal gamer to gamer connection to an app functioning as a game companion. We decided we still want to connect people but we need something in between that they can both relate to. From the start we need that that connection would be games but that’s still not specific enough. That’s why we settled we introduce the feature of sharing gaming moments. We still want people to socialise, chat and meet based on their hobbies but now we give them an object they can concentrate on . Through the usage of a mobile phone we allow our users to upload photos of their gaming efforts on the go and discuss them with friends. Now our app became more attached to the hobbies we want to cultivate and it extends the game play one might experience even beyond it’s physical existence. Such change of focus required from us a lot of work and what we created so far is a paper prototype that will hopefully provide more insight into our concept.
The design of the interaction
The interaction design for our prototype centres on a social media object that allows the user to share gaming moments. A central part of this socialisation process is the possibility to share images from gaming moments and to discuss that particular event. In order to do that the user has to join a group. Every group can contain a set of moments uploaded be the members of that group, and discussions are about different moments. The core interaction is therefore narrowed down into the actions: finding each other, chating, uploading, sharing and showcasing game moments with a similar peer group. We foused hereby on the main functionalites, which we are able to implement as well. The application could gain additional functions, when further developed.
For this blog post, we also created a paper prototype, which shows the main structure and the handling of the different screens. In order to grasp the idea behind our paper prototype, some prior information: we used a colour coded scheme, which means that each chosen colour stands for a particular kind of element. Therefore we will provide a small agenda:
- neon orange – button
- neon green – text element
- neon pink – picture or graphical element
- yellow – interactive element
- light pink – tag
When starting the application, the first thing the user sees is this screen (pic.1) Where the user has the chance to choose between three buttons login, sign up or sneak peak. Here we are pretending of being a new user and sign up.
Here you can see a picture showing a simple start page giving the user choices, either to sign up (pic.1), login or to take a sneak peak, the latter is for letting the user to take a small tour just to get a feel for the application. The sneak peak won’t be present in the prototype, but we would like to give the user the possibilty to look around, before signing up. Otherwise there is the risk of users not engaging with the application, when they are unclear of what it is like. If the user wants to register he is presented with three follow-up screens that besides from letting the user register via entering email and password (pic. 2), also lets the user choose tags and which group he likes to join (pic. 3). The groups (pic.4) are then matched to those named tags and become also automatically part of the user profile.
Picture 5 is showing the profile page, which might be held in a role-playing style. The profile page might be possible to edit, but will be limited at first and will later grow to a full profile with many extras and features. Users might gain more freedom to customize the profile page, through active particpation in the moment feed, in discussions (chats) and views. Therefore we also introduce an award system (combination of view count and personal rates in form of a crown or something similar), where users can rate each others shared moments.
Tags are important because it lets the user create a profile of interests and connect to other gamers in the same grouping. The last step choosing a group can be bypassed because there is a static bar at the bottom with three choices; “Profile”, “Groups” and “Uploads” for easy navigation (It’s the icons on the orange backgrund).
If the user should prefer to go the profile page or take a picture (pic.6) for instance this is possible, but the user simply has to join a group before being able to do an upload or chat on someone’s gaming moment (pic.7). By easily entering the camera modus the capturing of a moment get’s facilated. After taking a picture the user has the opportunity to proceed to the list mode or to take additional pictures.
So the user will eventually go to the feed of gaming moments belonging to a certain group and choose a moment or just upload something into that group feed. The moment is hereby showcased in form of the main picture (object-oriented) and by clicking onto one of the pictures you enter the discussion around that game moment. To give you an impression of the follow-up pic.9 and pic. 10 will show how a the scrolldown function in the chats will look like. So here the user is in one of the moments and the ongoing discussion will pop up.
The screen pic.11 shows different elements. For once is this the screen the user returns after taking a picture with their camera. Additionally it offers the possibilty to enter a description or title for the added moment. The idea behind the drag and drop feature is connected to the idea with a small widget which synchronizes recently taken and also uploaded photos. Background behind this is hereby the wish to integrate a small widget which runs on the pc, which gathers collected in-game moments. The next step is then returning back to the moment screen (pic.7) where the new moment pops up into the feed.
When you already are a user of the application there is of course another possibilty instead of signing up, the user then just logs in (pic.12) and enters their email and password (pic.13).
Paper prototype in action
This description above was rather detailed and maybe hard to grasp for an outsider – So in order to give you a better understanding of the clickable elements on our application, we created an animated gif version of our interaction design:
Here is an overview of the navigation we plan on having in the application.
The database we are going to use will store a variety of data such as usernames, passwords and emails. We expect those to be the most sensitive data we need to retain. Besides that we will mostly keep user generated content such as uploaded pictures, comments, crown clicks, tags and groups. We will not require more personal data from the users.
The short presentation we provide for our paper prototype shows its main functionalities and clearly exposes all the changes we went through since we published our first idea. Our concept of game companion app that allows its users to memorize the moments they wish to go back to seems more reasonable than our initial concept and it proved to be much more practical in terms of design process as well. We will continue working on it in the upcoming weeks and hopefully by the time we are done it will become a product everyone would like to use.
1. Engestrom, J. Why some social network services work and others don’t — Or, the case for object-centered sociality. April 13, 2005;: http://www.zengestrom.com/blog/2005/04/why-some-social-network-services-work-and-others-dont-or-the-case-for-object-centered-sociality.html