Cosmofy is a design concept for a mobile game that connects immigrants and locals to bridge cultural differences and encourage immigrant integration.
Team Members: Yomna Hawas, Tony Tran, Jennifer Wang
Role: Research, Paper prototypes, User Testing and UI design
Length: 4 days(MHCI+D Immersion Studio)
Our Project Brief
We were directed as a team to choose an area of civic engagement we could improve using Computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW). As a team of individuals with diverse backgrounds we initially narrowed in on the topic of immigrant welfare in the US for our problem space.
Research & Problem Framing
In order to understand our problem space and frame our problem statement, we conducted primary and secondary research.
The focus of our primary research was to identify major difficulties for current immigrants moving to the states and if/why they want to integrate into society.
We asked a recent immigrant the following question:
“What are some difficulties you experienced as an immigrant when you first moved?”
Language barriers. French is an official language in Canada, and most of jobs require bilingual. Lack of local work experience is another difficulty. Missing the support of social circles is also a big factor for new immigrant.
— Recent Immigrant
We utilized existing literature to better understand the value of cultural integration and its effects on aggregate societal welfare.
…immigrants could introduce cultural diversity and benefit the host country by fostering greater creativity and economic growth. People who were more socially integrated also tend to demonstrate more altruistic behaviours…
- Putnam, R.D. 2009, “Diversity, social capital, and immigrant integration: Introductory remarks”, National Civic Review, vol. 98, no. 1, pp. 3–5.
We also looked for existing initiatives or groups working in the problem space to understand their goals, successes and ways to improve upon existing solutions. Current solutions were catered toward refugees and 1:1: mentoring.
After synthesizing all of our research data, we found 4 key insights based off of research.
- Locals with higher exposure, education, and income levels have a more positive view of immigrants.
- Successful cultural integration provides both cultural and economic benefits.
- Immigrants want and feel it is necessary to get help from locals when arriving.
- English proficiency plays a crucial role in the perception of immigrants.
Based on our research insights we crafted an actionable problem statement we could use as our north star during our ideation process.
How might we utilize cultural and language diversity to bring locals and immigrants together?
Our team used an ideation method called braiding to help us generate ideas. This exercise consisted of sketching a rough concept in 2 minutes, sharing for 1 minute and repeating the same process for 10 iterations per person. After 30 minutes of braiding, we ended up with 30 rough sketches of concepts. This exercise helped us externalize our ideas on paper and build off of each other’s ideas via feedback.
4 Design Concepts
We then got together as a team and narrowed our concepts down to the 4 we felt most aligned with tackling our original problem statement.
Concept#1: Buddy Matching System — This matched 2 users together, an immigrant and a local based on interests, language proficiency and a specific skill one could each the other. The 2 matched users would meet and spark a conversation over an activity.
Concept#2: Accessible Information — A digital bulletin board placed in immigrant-dense neighborhoods. This board would be filled with rich information on their new country and events they could attend to help them get acclimated.
Concept#3: Country unlocking game — A fun game for immigrants and locals to play where they can unlock countries by meeting people from that country and answering a set of questions about that person.
Concept #4: Crowdsourced Calendar — This is a digital calendar app where immigrants or locals can create events and invite others to join. The core idea here is it would teach others from different cultures of special cultural holidays by inviting them over to experience it together.
We presented the 4 concepts to other designers in the studio who gave us great feedback on which ones had the most promise tackling our design problem.
As a group, we looked back on our original insights and evaluated how successful each concept was at tackling the problem. We ended up with the following criteria:
- Fun — The solution needed to be entertaining to keep users coming back and needed some incentivization.
- Organic Connections — We wanted people to connect with each other organically instead of forced matching. This allowed for more insightful conversations and deeper relationships. One of the core concepts of our solution needed to encourage real interaction between 2 people.
- Participation From All — The solution needed to incentivize both immigrants and locals to participate. This was because the original design problem was the missing connection between these 2 groups of people that was making immigrant integration more difficult.
In the end, we built the foundation of our solution on our country unlocking game concept but integrated the best aspects of some our other concepts into the final design of Cosmofy. We came to this decision after receiving great feedback from our classmates during a critique session and as a team evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each concept.
Next, we constructed paper prototypes of our app in order to test on users and identify painpoints, gather feedback, and improve upon our design.
After our initial paper prototype, we conducted 5 user tests to help us identify glaring flaws in our designs. Our user test required our participant to attempt to complete the quest of “Chat with someone from China”
From our testing we learned the following:
- Misleading placeholders — Testing participants did not understand the icons used for placeholder images. This caused confusion during the test. We learned that it was better to put real content in there to prevent confusion which could affect our test results.
- Unclear instructions — Some participants did not understand the directions to the game or were not able to see the instructions. We learned that most users do not completely read all of the instructions even if they were available.
- Missing exit option — Some players did not have an obvious way to exit out of a chat with another player if they did not feel like chatting resulting in a dead end. In later iterations, we created a button to allow users to exit the chat if they no longer wanted to chat.
High Fidelity Mockups
We took the learnings from our tests and incorporated those changes into our high fidelity mockups.
Cosmofy Key Features
Learn & Play
Learn about other cultures by unlocking the world map by completing quests focused on educating players on new cultures through completing quests.
Users select a country from the world map and can also connect with others they see in person to play a game.
Variety of quests
Many different quest types allow players different ways to earn points such as meeting someone from another country, answering trivia or eating traditional food from other cultures.
Based on our research insights, interactions between people from different cultures was important in better immigrant integration. A main goal of the game is to promote interaction between players which is presented through a variety of quests designed to encourage player interaction.
Show work early- During our ideation process, we found that showing our work early and often helped our team collectively give feedback and build on each other’s thoughts. This helped strengthen our ideas which were a huge improvement over trying to perfect every little detail alone.
Be problem focused first- I found my mind wandering into design solutions way before settling in on a design problem which can be detrimental early on. This quick project taught the importance of understanding the problem and learning how to slice the problem into a more achievable goal within our time constraints.
People don’t read- We learned as a team very quickly during our testing that people don’t read instructions. This was a lesson to reduce the amount of content that needs to be read by giving them content that’s easily consumable in different forms.