Greg Walsh

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3D Co-Design Environment

Problem

Children from urban areas have traditionally not been included in product co-design. This exclusion has happened for a number of reasons but access to transportation and available time are the two biggest causes. This project sought to create an environment that supported synchronous co-design from participants who weren't in the same place.

Design Solution

In order to address this problem, we worked with children who live in Baltimore City. The children were from relatively affluent families and participated in our inter-generational co-design team and could attend sessions throughout the school year. Through informant interviews and not living under a rock, we learned that Minecraft was very powerful with this age group.

Voxel-based environment The final environment
Iterations of the browser-based design environment. The left image is the original prototype created after the Minecraft research. The right image is the final version.

Through iterative design, we developed multiple prototypes of virtual worlds based on Minecraft clones and user-tested them in lab and field experiments. The final version was a custom built, JavaScript based tool that ran in a browser without any extensions and supported geographically distributed co-design.

For more information about this project, see the paper Inclusive Co-Design within a Three-Dimensional Game Environment.

Reflection

This was an interesting project because it was initially intended as a white-board project that was similar to a previous product I designed. However, listening to the participants and being aware of the zeitgeist led to a very unique outcome and useful piece of software for co-designers.

Role

leader, supervisor, designer, programmer, researcher. I oversaw four employees for this project.

Methods Used

user-centered design, co-design, iterative prototyping, user test, lab studies, field studies

Technologies Used

Javascript, Minetest, PHP, Node.js

Additional Materials

Town Square
The town square and village the co-designers created during the use of Minecraft as a design tool.
Library design by children.
The exterior of the library created in Minecraft.

More information: