How new technologies can bring life to obsolete SNS games.
Insight: Social network games such as “Happy Farm” are getting outdated because of the fast paced development of the Internet. However, the concept of “getting people together by a game” still has great potential. How can we redesign the obsolete game to make it attractive again?
Duration: June 2018 (Within 3 weeks)
Marketing & UX research
Darcy Wang, Lu Wang, Ding Huang
Xi Chu, Qiang Fu
Among various new ways of human-computer interaction for entertainment, what kind of idea can be proposed in order to define "new entertainment"?
Since PC based SNS web games are no longer popular, in the era of mobile, leisure, and intelligence, how to bring life to obsolete games by redesigning them?
“WoodAR” is a conceptual mobile farm management simulation game based on social media platforms. With AR (Augmented Reality) and LBS (Location Based Services) technology, WoodAR combines entertaining and socializing by simply “planting a tree.”
Compared to traditional SNS games such as "Happy Farms", WoodAR allows its players to connect, communicate, and have fun with each other not only by online social networks, but also through real-location based information.
By proposing WoodAR, we are exploring a new way of entertaining, as well as socializing. It is time when sitting in front of a giant computer and talking to each other through thousands of emails is no longer fancy or efficient. What people need is something healthy, something sustainable, and something that provides immersive experience.
WoodAR got the 3rd prize at First Tencent Design Competition of the 3rd Tencent Design Week among over 100 teams.
The theme of this internal design hackthon is "New ways of entertainment." After several rounds of brainstorming, we found that traditional SNS games such as "Happy Farms" have great potential to be redesigned. So at first, we did some research around this topic. The research process includes three parts: traditional SNS simulation games and their development, marketing of similar products, and related technology.
Ten years ago, when it was the golden time for social media platforms, SNS simulation games were extremely popular among all the countries and all the ages, especially in China. These web-based games had great simplicity, which made it accessible for almost every player. In addition, people could easily connect, compete, and have fun with their friends in this virtual world, which was one of the strongest motivation for them to play every day and night. "Easily socialize, and happily compete." became the most unique features for these games.
However, with the fast pace of mobile devices and multiple new entertaining platforms, web-based SNS simulations games were out of the stage now. Several top companies in China even had to stop their services to make a living. Nowadays, people are getting used to delicate mobile devices with massive functions, so that immersive experience and space of creativity are playing more important roles than simplicity.
New technologies such as VR and AR is blurring the boundary of reality and the virtual world. Meanwhile, in the market of digital products, media that are cross-platform and multi-sensory is more trendy than ever. Therefore, we propose that the future way of entertainment should be immersive, diverse, with more space of creativity, and healthier.
Based on research and ideation process, by combining the game with the largest SNS platform in China, QQ, we found that there are several opportunities for this new product:
Based on the largest communication platform, there is a huge amount of potential users who are familiar with the classic IP.
The new version of the classic game may attract more younger users and so that bring more activeness to QQ itself.
Since a lot of users already have strong and stable social networks based on QQ, the game would be a chance to enhance and expand their online and offline social networks.
QQ already has several services that base on real scenarios, which increase the accessibility of the game.
More space of creativity and personalized features are also trendy for QQ.
As a part of a daily used social media, WoodAR could be an entertainment extension of QQ.
Users could simply take care of their plants, and interact with friends within daily fragmented time slots.
Even staying at home, users are able to know about their friends' activities according to their actions in WoodAR.
WoodAR provides a new way to explore the neighborhood when the users are on their way.
When going on a trip, the users could learn more about the foreign city by playing WoodAR.
Various fantastic plants around the real world can be a new kind of attractions, especially when they are created by the players themselves.
LBS enclosure and planting
Every area in the city is plantable. The larger area the player has enclosed, the more soil he/she will have for planting. In this way, we want to encourage the users to get our of their houses and to feel the beauty of the real world.
Players are able to gain seeds by purchasing in the virtual market, exchanging with each other, or scanning real plants or fruits. When they travel to new places, there are chances of getting special seeds based on which city they go to.
All the fruits are tradable. With virtual currency, players can purchase seeds, costumes, special properties and virtual pets.
With soil and seeds, players can plant the seeds, water them, and collect the fruits. Every plant is available in both AR mode and classic mode. When meeting a tree on the road, or visiting a friend's garden online the player can also help watering others plants, or collecting their fruits without being noticed.
User Generated Content (UGC)
In AR mode, users can easily take photos or videos with AR trees along the street. Special plants make every trip full of surprises. In addition, the photo and the video can be directly shared to other social media platforms, which highlights the function of socializing.
What's more, trees can be also related to public benefit activities and specialized advertising. For example, coffee shops can attractive customers by planting a coffee tree in front of it, life style stores can use different plants to introduce their eco-friendly material. In this way, WoodAR provides several fresh interactions for offline purchasing experience.
"Everything can be plantable." Except for natural species, with great creativity, trees and fruits can also be about culture and history. For instance, in Chinese traditional culture, there are many beautiful myths that are related to special tress. Each ancient festival has its own unique plants, too.