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What makes a Simulation Engaging?

When a Person plays a video game, they look for engagement, as well as immersion. We as humans enjoy taking a break from our own reality, whether it’s reading a book, watching television, or playing video games. In this upcoming project, we are looking to create an experience suited for kids, but engaging enough to keep their attention spans.

When visiting Sci-Tech, we noticed that the children’s attention spans were rapidly swapping from one thing to the next, and each of them had different styles of play. Some of them were incredibly cautious in their work, lifting the exhibit toys to get a good look at them, and others ran around punching the daylights out of whatever came their way. It was hard to get a grip on what type of exhibit we would need to build that can handle different styles of play.

The simulation would need to be incredibly short, and not drawn out in the slightest. It would need to teach it’s lesson in a short time as well, and when it gets to it’s point, it would need to be something that the kid can remember. So we thought of things that we could do, and had some interesting scenarios.

We thought of simple buttons at first, which would each do a different function, such as check the phone of the in-game driver, or look out of the window of the car, but the ideas seemed a bit stale when looked at. Then we noticed something interesting, which was the children’s fascination with the small and extravagant exhibits. They found quick and rapid entertainment in small objects that they could grab, twist, spin, and get a cool reaction out of. So we thought of a new method that may work wonders. What if we set small toys on the dashboard of the game itself, and although they won’t have a function on the in-game scenario, it may be the small distractions that we would need to keep the child engaged while they play. The child would need to drive the car, probably with a joystick of some sorts, and they would need to not be tempted by the array of objects sitting on the dashboard that they could be playing with as well.

This however is subject to change, the point of this insight was to simply see how our exhibit could be engaging enough to entertain visiting kids. We’ll look into it more, and hopefully see where this could take us.