iCARE – interaction and scaffolding examples and how they work

The iCARE app has multiple interactions to make the story more engaging and interesting. Each also offers variations in what they can do and are all automatically generated from the xml file for the app. Making it very easy to manage and edit later. Interaction helps focus the mind and with the app incorporating a branching story, providing these interactive scenes is the perfect way to separate the story based on the users selections and interactions (or lack of!).

Many to select style interaction

This type of interaction is kind of like a hazard perception test. The scene has multiple objects or characters to select. For each selection, a voiceover is played. The user cannot continue with the story until they select everything required. Scaffolding is in place to avoid confusion. More on that in the last video below.

One or the other style interaction

This style of interaction gives the user two possible options. It can be true or false, negative or positive, or both options could be completely neutral. It doesn’t matter much. But the important thing to note with the example shown below is due to the branching nature of the story, whichever option the user selects, the story will proceed slightly differently. With different graphics and audio in various scenes. This helps with replay-ability (what happens if I play it again opposite or different to the last time I played it). If it isn’t obvious which objects or options are available to the user, scaffolding is in place to avoid confusion. More on that in the last video below.


Timed interaction

A timed interaction is much the same as many to select style interaction in that a scene can have one or many objects to select. But with the added timer, the user gets a set amount of time before a default option is chosen for them automatically. The scene below is a good example of this interaction. Mohamed is about to walk into the bedroom which has Osman lying in bed with suspected Ebola.

The user is instructed via the audio voiceover that if you allow him to enter the bedroom, Mohamed may be susceptible to catching Ebola too!

This scene’s interaction is part of the branching story. If you stop Mohamed before the timer runs out, he will not be displayed in the next scene, inside Osman’s bedroom. But if you fail to select him in time, he will be playing in the corner. This selection also alters when Mohamed is shown in future scenes too.


Scaffolding for interactions

Scaffolding is an important part of gaming and GBL. Its important to be able to guide the user through the process of what they need to do to proceed. This is especially important for a project like this. As the end users may or may not have ever used a mobile device before and also may not be overly familiar with game mechanics and simple gestures that we take for granted for everyday use with technologies.

What the iCARE app has is an automated way to provide scaffolding to the user, no matter the style of interaction and no matter if they’ve seen the help once or many times, it will adapt throughout to get them to the end.

See the video below, where the first interaction in the story takes place, once the initial voiceover has completed, the user is then prompted with specific audio accompanied with an animated action icon which teaches the user that the current scene has an interaction.

Once this audio and animation is complete, it waits for the user to interact. If the user fails to interact after a small amount of time, the selectable objects in that scene will pop multiple times. This will repeat four times before the animated icon and audio prompt kicks in again.

The feedback we had before implementing this scaffolding was that new users were repeatedly confused as to what they needed to do to proceed and it was a poor user experience. The feedback we’ve had since this feature was added has been very positive, with reports saying the scenes have become far more intuitive as a result.

All of these interactions are set within the xml file for the app. As I wrote about recently, this is designed to be easily editable and manageable. The automated way these interactions and scaffolding takes place helps achieve this requirement.

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