Final Paper – M Train

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Candice (Jiawen) Xie

M – train


My final project is an educational game designed for kids aged 5-7 to learn basic math. I am exploring educational math game design because I want to find out how kids aged 5-7 understand the outside world around them, in order to seek the most effective method to learn basic math.  I will be approaching this project from the lens of a primary school math teacher, kids aged 5-7, and their parents. I am studying what is the best way for kids aged 5-7 to understand and interact with numbers, algebra, and time through play. In doing so, I hope to understand how such games can better prepare kids for school.



I came up with such an idea just because I failed the math final exam in the first grade of my primary school!One day I talked with one of my friend’s mom who is a math teacher in the elementary school. I found that it is not a rare phenomenon. After some background research works, I found that nearly 65% of kids aged 5-7 have difficulties with their math learning. In that case, education may not be a good way to solve this problem, the game could be a better choice. So, it is time for me to do something to help.



I do some research works such as competitive products research, user behavior research and also literature review. I analysis 15 different math games and divided them into 4 categories (pic1 – competitive product research). I find the focus of my game design should be both knowledge learning and entertainment. There are already a lot of such games in the market, but they all keep asking questions and doing exercise. They seem more like an exam, not a game.


After that, I interviewed my friend’s mom and came to know that there are 4 major difficulties for kids to learn math. They are numbers, counting, clock and direction. Also, kids have unique characteristics such as they are more sensitive to physical items and hands on experiences. They are always learning through the changes and they have to repeat again and again to remember. In order to know more about my users, I found two papers about educational game design and serious game design [1][2]. Combine all the research findings above, I began my design works.



There are four design questions that I want to work on.

  • What are the major problems in the math learning process?
  • How do students understand the world around them?
  • Seek an effective way to learn math.
  • Design interactions using math elements.


I figured out some key words such as: learning math, education, entertainment, game and interactive from my domain map (pic2 – domain map). And I figured out my visual design style (pic4 – visual design) from my mood board (pic3 – mood board). I use my prototype to do two test, one for usability, the other for visual design. Based on the users’ feedback, I re-designed some parts of my game.


The following are some scenes in my game (pic5 – game design). My game is telling a story, kids are engaging in my story to learn math, which could be both educational and entertainment for them.


I use processing to design my game, also use html css and js to build my website. The Magical Math website is my game’s company, it contains all the research and design process. It is an advertisement website aimed to promote the sales of my game. The following are some pictures about my website (pic6 – website).




I think my final project successful with my research works. My sufficient research works have become a strong support for my design and implementation process. Also, I combine html, css and js techniques to create some animation for my website. For future iteration, I think it is better to design more plots for kids to learn math. Combine with their creativity and hands on experiences, the game could be more interactive. The design, web and coding techniques learned in Bootcamp are really helpful for my future design works. Also the presentation skill is the key point for a project’s successfulness.



[1] O’Rourke E, Haimovitz K, Ballweber C, et al. Brain points: a growth mindset incentive structure boosts persistence in an educational game //Proceedings of the 32nd annual ACM conference on Human factors in computing systems. New York: ACM, 2014: 3339-3348

[2] Tan C T, Harrold N, Rosser D. Can you CopyMe?: an expression mimicking serious game//SIGGRAPH Asia 2013 Symposium on Mobile Graphics and Interactive Applications. New York: ACM, 2013: 1-4


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