SPACE STATION

Space station is a geolocation collection game designed to actively engage commuters using the PTV rail network. Utilising spatial engagement, movement and social sharing, Space Station transforms the utilitarian act of commuting into into a magical transient experience.

Client
Services
Year

General Assembly
Experience design, Service design, UI, Gamification
2016

CASE STUDY


Public Transport Victoria (PTV) wants to improve their customer
experience of their train stations and the rail network.
Research and determine some current issues and pain points at
Southern Cross Station and design an innovative solution to solve them.

DISCOVERY

CONTEXTUAL ENQUIRY


I got out of the building and visited Southern Cross Station to view the users in context and gained an understanding of their situation, pain points and problems.

GUERRILLA INTERVIEWS


I talked to real commuters and people who worked at the station to understand the common problems and pain points.


TARGETEDUSER INTERVIEWS


I then conducted some targeted user interviews based on the insights i gained from my contextual enquiry. The result was some valuable insight…

INSIGHT


The three main insights I gained from the interviews…

Working adults travel solo

School kids travel in groups

the wait time is varied

DEFINE

AFFINITY MAPPING


I collated all of the problems I observed and gathered, I then mapped them out to establish some patterns and areas to address.

MAJOR INSIGHT


Speaking to regular commuters I found that the entire experience of train travel was a poor experience. This was a game changer.

For the users this was a major issue, and for PTV, their primary service was not something people enjoyed. It was a chore.

TRANSIENT SPACE


At the station I saw rows of people staring deep into their phones, it felt inhuman. I wanted to dig deeper into societal constructs that cause this. Train stations are transient spaces and I’ve always found transient spaces fascinating so I decided to dig deeper.

TRANSIENT SPACETHEORY

The infrastructure of the industrialised world requires transient spaces — spaces that are intended for passing through but not for lingering, even less for residing, spaces of emptiness and absence.  Moreover, the institutions of mass society mean that most aspects of life are scheduled for the convenience of the masses, which ultimately means that the individual must wait for the masses.- J. N. Nielsen

SPATIAL ENGAGEMENT

I researched ideas around spacial engagement and how i could use this to provide a diversity of experiences simultaneously with the physical world experience of commuting, hence providing a more meaningful connection.

THE PROBLEM


This was a dilemma, train stations are inherently transient. I may not be able to make these spaces less transient but was it possible to design an experience that could make it less empty or less absent?

Could I manufacture a connection and a meaningful experience? Something to be remembered or shared?

THE OPPORTUNITY


When i'm in transit,I want to be engaged with my surroundings,and have positive transient experience through my entire journey.

DESIGN

EXPLORE


I researched different ways I could potentially engage commuters, I then surveyed regular commuters on their preferred options. From the results of the survey I narrowed it down to three:

  1. Intellectual engagement
  2. Physical engagement
  3. Fun (gamification)

Of the three I decided to explore gamification as i thought I could also make this physical, and as commuters are often travelling to and from work/school, they’d prefer something lighter.  I chose specifically a geolocation game as it had the potential to be the most engaging and memorable and incorporate elements of sharing, intelligence and light activity.


GAME CRITERIA


  • Encourage commuters out of their phone and to engage with the station
  • Flexible play duration (2 – 30min)
  • Playable as solo and in group (competing?)
  • Engage with positive social interaction (social media sharing)
  • Engage commuter on entire trip (not just the station)
  • Needs tangible incentives (as well as emotive triggers)

GAME PLOT

Your challenge is to clean up the Southern Cross Space Station by collecting space junk, boarding your shuttle and transporting the junk into another dimension.

THOUGHT PROCESS BEHIND GAME


Space Theme:

  • Transforms a station (transient space) into a magical space.
  • Collecting space junk is altruistic without being dull.
  • The train can be reimagined as a space shuttle.

Geolocation:

  • Encourages spatial engagement.
  • Encourages movement through the station.
  • Can utilise the physical space.
  • Keeps commuters active

Collection Game:

  • QR Code are easy to install and customised.
  • Gets commuter out of their devices.
  • Provides a physical task.

USER FLOW


As the game play used various locations (station, platform and train etc) and a mobile interface I needed to map out the flow of the user through the physical space.


SCREEN FLOW


As well as the physical space i needed the flow of the user through the app to compliment there movement though the physical space without impeding too much on the spacial experience.


PROOF OF CONCEPT

Before I developed the concept further I needed to take the fail fast approach and validate the concept with some rapid prototyping.

RAPID PROTOTYPING


The first step was to wireframe and get my sketches into a prototype as soon as possible. This allowed me to iron out the basic screen flow of the app and make sure nothing was missing.

TESTING LOGIC


I placed my sketches into the Pop App, tested and  iterated with users in the office. Improvements that were made included:

  • Sign-in with social media/email instead of manually creating a profile
  • Added swipe gestures instead of tabs
  • The game needed a countdown timer so they didn’t miss their train
  • Users wanted to know their grand total points on the result screen

1st ITERATION


2nd ITERATION


1st Iteration Testing Insights:

  • Sign-in with social media/email instead of manually creating a profile
  • Added swipe gestures instead of tabs
  • The game needed a countdown timer so they didn’t miss their train
  • Users wanted to know their grand total points on the result screen

2nd Iteration Testing Insights:

  • Boarding the train flow needs work.
  • Need to add log-in process.
  • More emphasise on competition.

MAJOR PAIN POINT


The flow between when the user stops collecting and boards the train and when the train takes off and they are required to reopen the app to check results and share along their journey.

To make this as seamless as possible it was vital to the gameplay and overall experience as the acceleration of the train was a magical point to simulate a space shuttle and create a memorable experience.

Also sharing your results with friends would reinforce this and incentivise repeat play.

MVP TESTING IN CONTEXT

OUT OF THE BUILDING


Due to the spacial nature of the experience with the product, I decided the only way to effectively validate the concept properly was to take it to the station and have commuters use the app in the actual space.

TESTING & INTERVIEWS


I wanted to recreate the gameplay experience as much as possible so I got the commuters to actively scan QR codes I placed around the station and had them board the train. I also texted the results as the train was leaving the platform.

As many of the drivers and reward from the game is emotive, testing in context gave me more insightful feedback on the concept. The response was more positive than in the office.


TRIGGERS & INCENTIVES

GAMIFICATION


Commuters reacted to the game positively, however there was a comment mentioned a few times that was important…

“I’d use it if it was popular”

This showed my that the gamification drivers I should focus largely on were the competitive and social triggers for gameplay.

USER RETENTION


I also researched how these triggers would then feed into early stage, mid-stage and late stage retention of the app.

  • Trigger
  • Action
  • Reward
  • Investment

DESIGN CHANGES


At this point I needed to make some design changes to emphasise the social and competitive triggers for gameplay. I made the following alterations:

  1. Friends leaderboard added to the home screen
  2. Friends leaderboard added to the results screen
  3. Push notifications when someone moves ahead of you on the leaderboard.

INTANGIBLEBENEFIT

I found from user testing that i needed to be direct on what the incentives were to ensure the success of the game:

  • Social media sharing
  • Competition with travel companions
  • Competition for high scores
  • Fun gameplay
  • Spacial engagement
  • Health (not sitting still)

TANGIBLEBENEFIT

I also found when testing the MVP that people may need more tangible incentives to play the game. Ideas for these include:

  • Exchange badges for food at the station.
  • Exchange badges for free travel.
  • Leaderboard displayed at the station.

COMMERCIAL OPPORTUNITIES


From documenting the incentives it became apparent
there were other commercial opportunities worth exploring.
Some ideas included:

  • Place QR codes strategically to promote retail
  • Advertise in QR code locations
  • Advertise within the gameplay

WIREFRAMING

MEDIUM FEDALITY


As the game play used various locations (station, platform and train etc) and a mobile interface I needed to map out the flow of the user through the physical space.


TESTING DESIGN & LOGIC


As the game play used various locations (station, platform and train etc) and a mobile interface I needed to map out the flow of the user through the physical space.


INSIGHTS


The flow of the game was working well but I learned that I needed to think about the onboarding and how I would ask for permissions, this was vital for the game to be functional.


ONBOARDING

ASKING FOR PERMISSION


As always the onboarding should not be taken lightly. First impressions last. As a free game I knew that it was more important than most. I needed to ask for two permissions:

  1. Location data
  2. Push notifications

I created pop-ups on the login and home screen and tested via a low-fi prototype, however, this actually annoyed people as there was no explanation it was vital for gameplay and they found them annoying.

2ND ITERATION


I went back and researched more effective methods for asking permissions and came up with the following.

Testing showed that this was far more effective.


HIGH FIDELITY

IN PROGRESS


There are still a few more improvements to make to the design before the high-fidelity frames are completed.


WHAT'S NEXT

FURTHER WORK


After presenting my work to Peter, the Human Factors Specialist from Metro Trains, I need to look at a few changes before i take the game into development:

  • Boarding Train stage reworked
  • More interactions with friends (e.g. multiplayer?)
  • How often would codes be updated?
  • Onboarding’ how to play’
  • Connect with destination station (all stations)

SUCCESS METRICS

There are a number of ways to measure the success of the app:

  • App downloads
  • Points tracking
  • Number of Social Media Shares
  • Voucher redemption statistics