Good Aim

Improving Behaviors through Gamification

Mobile Design, Gamification | Sponsored by Electronic Arts/Popcap

2016 MHCI+D Ideation Studio - Wei-Hung Hsieh / Erica Queen / Michael Frampton

The Prompt

This was a 7 week project done in collaboration with Jonathon Bergeron from Electronic Arts/Popcap. Given the prompt to explore the creation of a mobile app that uses some aspect of gamification to change behavior, my group explored the realms of charity, volunteering, and random acts of kindness. We agreed on two overarching values to guide our design: societal impact and long term personal change.

Our Solution

Good Aim is a mobile game that empowers students to positively impact their communities through local charity. This fun gaming experience empowers high school and college students who want to help their community, but don’t because they aren’t sure where to start. Good Aim acts as a reliable and welcoming world where players can become aware of community needs and donate to multiple charities at once.

Secondary Research
Game Design
Grayscale Wireframes
Interaction Flows
How might we use gamification to impact positive behavior in a personal, social or environmental way?

Game Theory

With mobile being part of the project requirements, we wanted to highlight the strengths of mobile games. Three advantages stuck out to us: mobile allows for various modes of play, can augment daily life, and can embrace varying environments. We also looked to improve upon the foundation of Pokemon Go. We wanted a game mechanic that involves more skill than simply swiping, level restricted gear to improve progression, at-home/stationary play, and a questing system to promote play and increase purpose.

Charity Theory

Researching charity theory showed us that scope insensitivity is bias that occurs when a problem seems too big or unidentifiable. To overcome this, we embodied select community issues in the form of a monster to make the problem more personal and close to home. We also saw that emotional happiness was important. The Charity Happiness Cycle taught us that happier people give more. Taking advantage of this cycle could help increase player retention rates and create a positive impact on the mental and emotional lives of players. We knew from this that our game theme needed to be cheerful and playful.

Mind Map

To improve our understanding of volunteering, kindness, and charity, our team constructed a mind map of our three problem spaces to assess where they interacted. The map turned out to be a great exercise for organizing and contextualizing what our topics meant internally to each team member.

Popular Media Scan

While the magazine cover media scan was easy to organize and display, I feel that it would have been more effective to focus on different forms of media, such as facebook articles or twitter feeds. Looking back, these alternative media forms would have been more applicable to a younger or mobile based generation. Unfortunately, we did not have multiple audiences in mind while conducting our media scan.

"Happy people give more, then feel happier, then give more."
The charity-happiness cycle is similar to game reward loops, but without harm from the overjustification effect.

Brain Dump & Action Words

We began by individually brain dumping all that we had gathered from two weeks of research. We then sat down together to share our dumps and ideate various solutions. During our first session we generated over 40 ideas in the space of volunteering, RAKs, and charity. We used a 2x2 matrix to remove/combine similar ideas and eliminate those with weak gamification.

The action words exercise was especially helpful in rejuvenating the team's creativity after a long ideation session. We spent exactly one minute applying various action words to the realm of charity, volunteering, and RAKs. The six most beneficial interpretations are pictured above.

During this second stage of ideation, we analyzed the feasibility and value of our initial concepts. Each of the 18 ideas was ranked according to three criteria: social impact, behavior change, fun factor. The three top scoring ideas are seen below.

Looking back, this was a critical and successful moment for our group. This method gave everyone a fair say in the decision process and helped some of our strongest concepts come forward. Where we could have improved was in our 18 concept explanations. Sometimes the voting was skewed simply because the words on the sticky note did not fully convey the idea the creator had in mind.

To further narrow down from three ideas to one, we refocused on the original ideals we valued: interactivity, social impact, and long term change. The AR charity concept held best to these values.

Being based off of our research on the happiness cycle, the moodboard acted as an anchor for our group. Multiple times when we had to make a decision, we looked back to our moodboard and tested to see if the new feature was in harmony/conflicted with the board. The feel of our monster index was one decision that translated cleanly from our moodboard.

Explore & Battle

Explore your community, collect ammo, defeat monsters.
Monsters represent specific charity needs, like education, healthcare, and environment.
Community boss fights - learn about an urgent charity need and rally with other players to defeat the boss.


Great for smaller charities - opt in and set up a shop. Share your contact info and solicit help.
Great for players - visit and unlock charity shops, and gain access to rare items.
Complete a daily quest to discover new local shops and get more rare items.


Defeat a monster or visit a new charity, then pledge a micro-donation.
Pay your micro-donations on a secure website and keep a record of your impact.
Share your donation receipts on social media to encourage others to join in.

Non-monetary Integration

We want to look more into non-monetary ways to help charities (volunteering, clothes donations, etc). Our initial research showed problems with game integration overburdening charities or distorting internal motivations, so with time we would research further.

Follow-through Rate of Pledges

Because the pledge system was something we added near the end of our process, we did not extensivelly research follow-through rates of pledges in current systems. I think more research would greatly increase our value proposition.