Game Designer
Giada Sun & Kalpa Anjur
Main Tools
Unity, Illustrator, Aseprite
Sherclock and Watchson is a digital time travel detective game that encourages safer cybersecurity habits in the average student. The game uses self-efficacy models and storytelling technique to increase players’ degree of security sensitivity and intention to put security recommendations into practice.
I worked with Kalpa Anjur, an undergraduate majoring in Computer Science, and we both did research, designed, and developed the game together. This is an ongoing project of Connected Experience Lab in Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. We finished the first level of the game recently and planed to conduct an user testing to evaluate our product.
We used the lens of problem statement from The Art of Game Design to think of our game as a solution to a problem, coming up with opportunities.
goal & inspiration
Our goal is to encourage safer cybersecurity habits in the average student.
Not only raise awareness, but make it seem accessible and simple. Make the game seem less educational and more interactive.
We were interested in applying role-playing and narrative technique to create the context of the game close to student's daily life. Since the game should be simple, we prefered to design it based on existing game mechanisms rather than creating something new. We did research on many related classic games and we picked up puzzle and time travel games as our materials.
We thought adding puzzles to the game could encourage players to think the cybersecurity issues deeply and the time traveling feature could emphasis the relation between actions and consequences. Combining all these materials, we came up with the four main concepts of the game.
Finding Clues
Each level targets a good cybersecurity behavior and identifies common problems associated with people who don't practice the behavior. The clues are simple enough to follow but make it fun to find out what the problem is.
Time Travel
After discovering the problem, the detective will turn back time to change the non-secure behavior. The ideas presented are sustainable since the time travel shows you the consequences of your actions, not just what actions you should be taking.
Dialogue Choice
Through control and autonomy, dialogue choice encourages players to figure out proper solutions to people’s cybersecurity issues rather than directly being offered the answers. Dumb options are also included.
Once they choose the appropriate option to handle the cybersecurity issue, the player will immediately see their score increase on the screen. Self-efficacy models are applied to change player's behavior.
How self-efficacy manifest in the game
Albert Bandura outlines the principles for a successful program for health behavior change that uses self-efficacy principles.
Informational Component: Educating the Risk
The game starts with information about a friend’s story of their cybersecurity-related issue.
Development of Skills
Contextual choices in game lets player pick the best action for the situation.
Guided Practice & Application of Skills in High-risk Situations
Time travel that leads user back in time to apply skills in the actual high-risk situations.
Players would become detective Sherclock, the owner of a cybersecurity detective agency. With the help of his aide Watchson, Sherclock could do time travel to stop problems before they even start.
prototyping & iterating
We created our initial prototype in digital since the game basically is composed of abundant dialogues. It would be more efficient and flexible to deal with texts using digital tools than paper prototyping.
Early Prototype & Playtesting
We decided to use Google Slides to create our first prototype rapidly after completing our first draft of the script, and then we ran a simple playtesting. What we observed in playtesting is that tediously explanatory dialogues in game bored people and led them unwilling to read whole the texts and this prototype was obviously educational. We should reduce the amount of dialogue and add more controls to player.
The early prototype created using Google Slides
Iterating & Development
After digesting the feedbacks, we started making the next version, a high-fidelity prototype. We revised the script, cutting down dialogues and adding dumb choices to enhance player's control in the game. On the other hand, we decide to pixelate all the visuals, prventing players from spending too much time on irrelevant visual details.
High-fidelity prototype in Pixel Art style
We also started developing the game using Unity