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Ecobugs - game scenarios workshop completed 16th August


We had our first stakeholder workshop with game designers, user experience experts, educational researchers, teachers and young people. The brief for the session was to create game play scenarios for Ecobugs both for parents in class with 30 primary school children aged 7-11 and for parents with children. We split the group into two teams and each team's outputs are described below in detail. To make the most of the day, we looked at the high level requirements to deliver the most popular game play scenarios and prioritized them as must have/would like/won't. This prioritised requirements list will now form the basis of the build with our mobile developers.

All in all, a very productive session and the project is officially underway.

School Environment (Group: KK; SP; TB; JR; LG)

Set Up

Teacher downloads set of QR codes and software

Teacher sets bug hunt around the school

-      Teacher places symbols around school environment to set up the bug hunt and tells the system what the environmental conditions are where each symbol is placed (e.g. wet, warm and sunny), the system then automatically places appropriate bugs in this environment

-      While placing the symbols around the school locality the teacher also drops GPS pins on the google map interface.  This also allows them to check GPS coverage 


In the Classroom

-      Teacher explores habitats with the class to set activity in learning context

-      Gives key pointers on use of technology

-      Sets storyline of the activity and puts students into role (e.g. as bug hunters etc)

-      Demos how to catch bugs and what the choices are available to do this (e.g. what bait to use)


(This stage could involve the creation of bugs)





Students work in small groups of 2-4 with 1 device per group

They have a list of types of bugs they have to capture (according to classification)


Finding Bugs

Students use guidance from GPS / Radar / Compass to find bug locality (if GPS is not enabled they may use written clues /verbal guidance from the teacher)


When they are in the general vicinity of a bug colony they are told this e.g. when they are 10 metres away

When they are in close vicinity to a bug colony (e.g. 5 metres away) they can change from radar view to AR view and can see the colony as a image on the screen (this will be a manual change from radar view to AR view in the first instance).  Once students have seen the colony they can now try and capture the bug


Capturing bugs

 Students have to use a combination of tactics to capture the bugs, the process could include:

-      Sneaking up on it (e.g. not making noise which would be detected by the microphone)

-      Baiting the bug (choosing appropriate foodstuff: leaf, sugar, dead insect) 

-      Choosing an appropriate collection method, e.g. net, trap (detected by gesture)

-      Choose whether to collect / not collect (depending on colony numbers)


Once students have caught the bug they have to keep it safe (i.e. not wiggle the phone around) until they have logged it and stored it in their bug store.  If they do not store it, it will escape.


Storing Bugs

To store a bug students have to log it in their bug-pedia

If they are the first students to capture a particular bug they may name it (free text entry)


All bugs have to have information inputted about them to store them.  This is inputted through a check box interface.  Information needed could include:

  • Classifying, i.e. what type of bug it is.  This is an open activity which has no automated right or wrong response
  • What it eats 
  • What bait was used to capture it
  • What method was using to capture it
  • What the environmental conditions were where it was captured (e.g. wet, dark etc)
  • What time of the day it was caught


The aim of the game is to get one of every type of bug classification.  Though of course students may incorrectly classify bugs and get back to class to find that they think they had a full set, when in fact they dont.



Colonies are affected by the taking of bugs. E.g. if colony numbers are low and students still capture bugs from it, then the colony may become depleted and die. Players could know the status of the colony through an information bar when they view it in the AR mode.  


Students could also be informed of the status of bug colonies through ongoing status updates. This may come through pop ups on the radar, or through their captured bugs telling them they colony they came from is ill. Returning the bugs to the depleted colony may increase the numbers and make it thrive again.  This could offer opportunities for whole group interaction around ensuring all bug colonies remain healthy.


Reflection / Refining


Students return to class with their filled (or partially filled) virtual bug boxes which they can view on the phone or through an on screen web interface.


Creating and sharing bug profiles

In their groups students create a profile page for each bug, filling out its characteristics.  The combined pages for their bug collection create a bug book.


The students can then view each others bug books and have the option to agree or disagree with the classifications, and vote on the best bug name. 


Teacher can view each book on an admin interface and see overall levels of agreement and dispute on classifications.  The teacher can use levels of agreement / disagreement as a prompt for discussions (e.g. most disputed classifications can prompt a class discussion on why this happened)


Recognition / Award

Students are awarded achievements in different categories and given certificates e.g.

-      Collector of the rarest bug

-      Best capturer

-      The most voted up bug name


Parent/Carer + Child Environment (Group: KK; SP; TB; JR; LG)

Set Up

Players can set up bug locations manually through walking around their designated space and dropping GPS pins, or can set up via a screen based map browser by placing bug pins in different locations.

Players can keep bug hunts private, or share post bug hunts publically online.

There could be a future opportunity to integrate public and private bug hunts. E.g. bugs created in school bug hunts are viewable on public maps



Finding and capturing bugs follows the same process as the school model.  The parent/carer and child version does not include class reflection process. Instead they have the opportunity to build their player profile.


Score Boards

Players will be able to show their scores on local and global score boards by creating personal profiles. Local score boards will include bug namers and best scorers (e.g. best bug capturer) for the specific bug hunt. Global score boards will show overall leading players and relevant global stats (e.g. most prolific bug hunt creator).  To ensure safety personal profiles will not show any sensitive information, and show only user name and scores.


Link between real and virtual activities   

There should be an opportunity to link real world bug information with the activities.  Players will be able to take pictures of found real bugs on the mobile cameras and log the pictures alongside their virtual bug store.  The game will include a categorisation multiple choice system to help players identify bugs.

School Environment (Group: DT; GC; BG; TB; JR)


o    Teacher overlays polygons on map for different environments or uses icons for specific environments and bug locations.

o    Frequency of updates to Google maps may be an issue.

o    Teacher sets boundary of game.

o    Players mapping the geography of their school can be an additional activity that informs the game setup including what they can find in different places.

o    High achieving Players make more detailed maps.


Bug Selection

o    Factors that vary with habitat: moisture; shade; live vegetation; decaying matter; hole/cracks; ease of mobility; quiet/noisy; high/low disturbance;

o    Factors that vary over time: weather, seasons, polution

o    Factors that affect bug adaptation: size; colour/camouflage; juicy/hard; wings; legs/no legs/jumping legs; shy/bold; caterpillar/butterfly

o    Bugs could be built from body parts or pre-selected.

o    Customisation (colour/pattern) could be included.

o    Top trump data helps users compare different bugs.



o    Could be done through: counting; through temporary samples; photos;

o    Cant take from small populations/kill population by taking queen

o    Auto-return after sampling.

o    Players make predictions about which bugs will do well in which habitats and then release bugs where they think they will live best.

o    Sampling shows where the bugs live after a week has passed; this could be done in by different teams in different parts of the school grounds.

o    Teams contribute data to the teacher and create an overview.

o    TeamA can see TeamBs prediction for TeamAs zone.

o    Bug distribution could also be affected by: randomness; bug interactions (foodchain); live data feeds (sunlight/rainfall); equilibriums could be reached where bugs live together.

o    Could include phases: release; move/die; eat; breed.

o    Players can capturing photos of real bugs found alongside virtual bugs.



o    Could involve classification; caring; breeding; virtual experiments;


Other thoughts

o    Keep setup time down to a minimum no more than 20-30 mins to get a few lessons out of Ecobugs.

o    Look at ways to extend Ecobugs: initial mapping; bug selection; bug collection; then move into more advanced topics: food chains; live data effects; population dynamics.


Parent/Carer + Child Environment (Group: DT; GC; BG; TB; JR)

 Set Up & Exection

o    Set up private versions of Ecobugs or join the collaborative game.

o    Players can set up bug locations manually through walking around their designated space and dropping GPS pins, or can set up via a screen based map browser by placing bug pins in different locations.


o    Collaborative bug game could include bugs from private instances - bugs created in school bug hunts are viewable on public maps.

o    Missions could include; first to find; most in a time limit.

o    Bugs may move from their start position depending on the habitat and their preferences.

o    Players could move bugs by collecting and releasing.

o    Players could help bug populations by adding a male to where a female is.

o    Based around a culture of collecting and creating your own.

o    Players contribute to a growing environmental wiki map.

o    Setting games and playing them with the same mobile means managing multiple profiles.


Score Boards

o    Rewards could be based on: biggest collection; amount of mapping; accuracy of mapping; validation of another players mapping; successful missions; 



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