Competitive Analysis of Different Dietary Programs
Educate young Australian youths about the importance of healthy yet sustainable balanced diet through gamification design.
Unreal Engine 5
Wilson: Graphic and UX Designer
Ming Cheng & William: 3D Artist and Game Dev Advisor
Kelly Tan: Nutritionist
Overall: 4 months
Discovery & Research: 1 month
Design & Prototyping: 2-3 months
Documentation: 1 week
Young Australians are generally either generally impressionable, misinformed and not well-educated when it comes to the importance of food nutrition literacy. Thanks to the likes of enticing social medias, monopolized food corporations and even the likes of Australian's suburbia urbanization, this results them to eat more processed foods, which are usually lacking in proper nutritional value.
The goal of this project is to encourage Australians at a young age, possibly as young as teenagers, to understand the significance of food nutrition and simulating sustainable diet through accessible gamification design.
How do we incentivize teens to consume more variety of foods while educating them in a fun and engaging way?
I gathered some existing data regarding food nutrition among Gen-Zs to explore their pain points and struggles. These ranges from non-biased academic articles to official online statistics to personal interviews.
“Why should I eat mom's food when Maccas will always satisfy my cravings?”
- Craig - Student - 14
"Personally think being a vegetarian is not only good for you, but it's also better to sustain our planet's limited resource."
~ Hannah - Student -16
“As long as I workout a lot, I shouldn't have to keep track on what I eat 'cause that's too much work and unrealistic for people my age.”
~ Felix - Student - 14
“Did you know that Pomegranates are superfoods? I've been eating those at least twice a week and feeling better.”
- Samantha - Student - 17
Deduction & Insights
From what we can deduce here, most teens in Australia are very impulsive and impressionable when it comes to deciding what foods to put inside their bodies. Whatever foods available around their proximity, usually foods high in sugar and sodium, they will gladly make their purchase and eventually satisfy their short-term cravings. While some may grow out of it by proper research and initiate healthy dietary disciplines, most still carry these impressionable dietary plans to adulthoods that usually lead up to obesity.
Because there has been a plethora dietary programs, there's no reason for me to bring another one into the market. However, I will instead give insightful critiques on each programs by its uniqueness, strengths and weaknesses.
Based on my observation, the variation of diet programs do, in fact, incentivize children to practice eating healthily and some programs can work better if they tend to play more sports (MyFitnessPal app). The only main issue is these prograns are still trying to use the "one-size-fits-all" approach, which are not effective in the long run. This is the main reason why I decided to brainstorm alternative approaches that hasn't been explored enough and has a much better potential of achieving long-term sustainability when it comes to dietary programs.
To form a deeper understanding of our users' goals, needs, experiences, and behaviors. So, I decided to create 3 personas for each of our user segments. This aims to ensure teens have some to high interests in playing food program-based board games, but also can be enjoyed by their parents as well for a pleasant family time. So here are the listed personas:
A teenage boy named Jeremy
A teenage girl named Alice
A father of two sons named Aaron
This diagram is a representation of our user's overall experience before, during and after participating in this particular board game.
Bite Mates is a race-for-points board game where you and your opposing inmates have to Grab ingredient cards from The Canteen, Prepare what to eat on the Plate and finally, Eat what you decided and receive or lose Energy points depending on your choice of Ingredients. The user who obtains 80 points before anyone else wins and the game automatically concludes. Theoretically, this board is suppose to:
simulates players to consume a variety of foods
be mindful of what they eat based on their respective characters buffs and restrictions
allow a wholesome family and friendship bonding time
Inmate Cards and Lock
Players pick out an Inmate Card and roleplays as what character they were given. Each Inmate has their own unique Class, Likes, Dislikes and Specialties. Because each character are based on real diversified ethnic groups, it is a great way to introduce and represent younger audiences on what other cultures eat and practice in terms of their own unique dietary lifestyles.
The Point Counter is designed after TSA luggage locks with an LED screen that can flash "WIN" once the numbers adds up to 80 points. This still fits within the prison-themed aesthetic without having to create a new point counter device.
Ingredient Cards (Washoku)
Inspired by a lesser-known dietary practice known as Washoku Diet, Bite Mates organizes food ingredients into 5 categories: Carbs, Meat, Vegetables, Sides, and Utility. All these cards has their own Actions and Energy (currency) depending on the user's playstyle. If for instance they wanted to attack their opponent while gaining points simultaneously, they can Eat a combination of Beef (Meat) and Broccoli (Vege) Ingredients to do so.
There is an amazing video game called TableTop Simulator that not only allows users to play digitalized versions of existing board games, but also works brilliantly to simulate the mechanics of Bite Mates, particularly Eating a variety of Ingredients.
After playing a few rounds with some of my friends, one who helped render the board game and another working as a full-time game developer, they managed to give some insightful criticisms that can help me to make better. Here are the criticisms that were given and what I do with them.
The idea of the game is to combine the arcade gameplay of many board games with Player, Main and Event cards while keeping the realism of prisoners cooking foods with limited resources around. Because each player nonchalantly grabs ordinary ingredients from The Canteen, there is no imposing threat they have to be aware of like an opponent attacking with a weapon.
Improvement: Future iterations includes Ingredient Cards with Action attributes for either attack and defense.
Simplify the Gameplay
The very early version of the game (as seen above) is unnecessarily complicated with multiple game elements like Event Cards and Poker Chips to represent in-game currency. With too many rules and game elements presented, casual players may be intimidated and uninterested to learn, let alone able to teach new players.
Improvement: Future iterations removes Event Cards, yet replaces Poker Chips with Energy that can be used as health points and a medium of exchange (currency).
Lack of Balance
Due to my own lack of experience of making board games and minimum play-testing, both Ingredient and Inmate Cards can be too punishing or end the game much earlier than intended. This can influence the overall flow of the gameplay to be unpleasant.
Improvement: Future iterations includes adjusted Ingredient's Actions and Inmate's Specials that is more fair when playing with opponents.
After going back and forth of minor adjustments to improve the gameplay, it is finally time to finalize it with an appropriate aesthetic of cyberpunk, especially when it has been appealing to a lot of young users in terms of it's neon lights and cybernetic patterns.
Trust in the process. Sometimes we as product designers are too focused that everything as to be an app as it's what most of what we do. However, it is important for us to be flexible and open minded on the journey and where will the product itself will end up.
One-size-fits-all. Even though we have criticised existing nutritional programs doing so, this board game still is still prone to be criticised the same way. Nevertheless, this board game isn't intended to teach users exactly on what's good to put in their body but it indeed incentivises people to practice eating a variety of foods.
With all that said, this project would not be possible without the assistance from Ming Cheng, William and most importantly UniSA's nutritionist lecturer, Kelly Tan.
Thank you for reading my case study!
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