Requirements and Design by Proxy – Fitness Games for Users with Learning Disabilities
I recently gave talks on the above topic at Aston and Canterbury Christchurch universities. They were based on our HICSS 2017 paper. The topic is timely given the lack of NHS capacity and GP knowledge on learning disability (LD).
Furthermore, LD carers receive precious little support, not to mention holidays. So, any adjunct facility is welcome by carers and charities alike to (a) take the pressure off, as well as, (b) provide developmental motivation for those with LD.
A particular issue is physical fitness: most with LD, depending on the LD severity, have poor fitness levels.
We studied one game ‘Somability’ that helps address this deficiency. This is a powerful and impactful game platform. However, the real contribution of our paper was not to LD per se but to requirements engineering.
It is very difficult to gather requirements directly from LD users – e.g., ethnographic requirements capture can be intrusive, disruptive and inappropriate.
An implication of our mixed methods study was the potential for using method acting as a surrogate, allowing requirements to be generated (but not perfected) and avoiding intrusive direct approaches that could potentially upset LD users.
Also, requirements engineers are ill-equipped to capture such requirements. They need to be specially trained by healthcare professionals!
These implications provoked a lot of discussion and were somewhat controversial. Despite our experience in the field, some audience members felt direct observation should take place and seemed less concerned about any ethical element.
The jury is out on this aspect. However, what went down very well indeed were the propositional design characteristics we generated. We concluded that games for LD users need to be simple, repetitive and avoid competitive mechanics.
Slides: A copy of the Aston slides can be viewed here.
Future: We are currently looking to take this important work further. Possibilities include: requirements capture through the involvement of professional actors (design fictions) and a critical discussion of the ethics of requirements capture in LD game design.
Please do contact me if you would like to discuss our research in more depth or be part of future studies.