Disney Journeys

How do we support virtual education during and after the COVID-19 quarantine period?

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Student project 

April/May 2020

5 weeks

Strategist, Art Director, UX/UI Designer, Interaction Designer

Strategy, Concept, Art Direction, UX/UI, Prototyping, Interaction Design, Motion Design

Figma, Principle, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Dimension, Adobe Aero

Charleen Martins-Lopes

We created an interactive, educational game where players can explore the World of Disney alongside their favorite characters.

 

The Challenge

In the age of COVID-19, many families are quarantining at home together and discovering new challenges. Kids battle loneliness, frustration, and boredom, and parents struggle to strike a work-life balance, all while learning how to home-school. Without a traditional learning environment, teachers struggle to offer resources remotely to help kids cope with isolation.

The Opportunity

Disney is the world's leader in storytelling and family entertainment and continues to expand its digital footprint, as can be seen by the success of Disney+. With so many families in quarantine turning to their TVs and tablets, many parents have lifted screen-time limitations for kids due to quarantine and increased use of virtual education.

The Solution

Design a game where kids and parents can improve practical skills and nurture emotional intelligence, all while exploring their favorite Disney stories.

 

Introducing Journeys

By The Wonderful World of Disney

Introducing The Wonderful World of Disney: Journeys, an interactive escape into the World of Disney, bringing the magic into your home. Discover new stories, overcome challenges, and learn important life skills alongside your favorite Disney pals. We designed this game as an extension of The Wonderful World of Disney brand to attract multiple generations of users, including older demographics who are familiar with the name from the popular TV anthology series.

Craft well-rounded skill sets

Instilling critical skills during a period of uncertainty

Principles like empathy, kindness, equality, and leadership are things that kids often learn in a traditional learning environment. With Journeys, players are introduced to these principles through interactive story-telling and game-play and are encouraged to apply these newly learned skills in their home environments.

Learn alongside your favorite characters

Experience the magic like never before!

Each lesson is taught by a character whose backstory matches a specific subject matter or lesson. For example, you can learn table manners and etiquette with Tiana at her restaurant, brush up on your vocabulary with Belle at her library, sort items and solve math problems with Ariel in her grotto, and even code your own super suit with Edna Mode!

Personalize your lessons

Sort stories by age and character

 

Players can customize their story library and choose lessons based on age group, grade level, and story type. Lessons target learning objectives for each age group, and players can progress further by completing levels in their designated group. Parents can also purchase additional stories to customize lessons for their child.

 

EXPERIENCE

Bringing the magic to life

Crafting story true to the source

 

Players can view the entire kingdom in map view and travel to each story location. After choosing a story, the player is transported through the clouds to the story location and is introduced to the lesson with a short dialogue with their leading character. For example, we are transported to Belle's castle in France for our vocabulary lesson. We learn that the Beast is in a bad mood (because he's also in quarantine!), and Belle needs our help to cheer him up.

Created with Google Earth Studio and After Effects. Images property of Google Earth.

Magic + technology

Exploring the future of storytelling with emerging media

 We designed Journeys to work on the devices that kids are using, specifically tablets. We also considered the future of gaming and emerging technology and created specific stories to work for augmented and virtual reality. For example, players can exercise in a virtual yoga class with Elastigirl, go on a VR world tour with Aladdin and Magic Carpet, or take care of your favorite animal characters with Jasmine at her zoo!

Created with Adobe Aero, Hei Hei object from CGTrader.com 

"Oh, how I wish I could live there..."

Teasing the world you'd want to visit again and again

One of the most recognizable symbols of Disney is the movie intro and song. The world of the Disney introduction became the foundation upon which we built our game world. Our idea was that this world connected all our favorite stories together in one cohesive place. For example, diving into the water could lead you to Ariel's kingdom, Nemo's reef, and even the kingdom of Atlantis. View our teaser ad to the right!

 

THE STRATEGY

Image by pan xiaozhen

Hope in the face of adversity

Thousands of lives changed overnight when the whole world went into lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic. For generations, Disney has led the forefront of using creative media to teach children the vital lessons of how to conquer evil, no matter what form it takes. Every generation has its villain (s), with fear, panic, and uncertainty tagging along as accomplices. With Journeys, we sought to find a way to empower the children of this next generation to conquer the world through love, kindness, and courage — to give them hope and a foundation to build a brighter future.

Personas

Partnering with real kids and real families

We interviewed real kids to get a good understanding of how they play and learn. Together, we brainstormed a variety of ideas for our stories and gameplay. We also interviewed parents to address concerns about safety, comprehensive learning,  and diversity and representation.

Creating tangible magic

In the absence of Disneyland and in isolation

We went through multiple iterations of ideas before landing on the idea of Journeys, including a virtual tour of Disneyland. We were also inspired by the story of Inside Out and the focus on emotions and memories. After doing several rounds of research with our professors, mentors, and users, we decided to combine these ideas into one experience. In preparation, we also participated in exercises led by Disney Imagineers themselves to help get acclimated with the creation of our world.

Helping the future generation

Preparing them for a new world

 

The original prompt we were given for this assignment asked us to design a solution for "The New Normal", during and post COVID-19. Over and over again, we hear brands and companies telling us about the unprecedented times we live in and how every single person in the world is affected. Some argue COVID-19 is to this generation what 9/11 was to my generation. With Journeys, we wanted to create a welcoming and exciting environment for kids and families to explore, learn, and prepare for the new normal together.

 

THE PROCESS

Moodboards

Getting inspiration

We looked to Disney concept art and user-generated illustrations for inspiration in building our story world. We also researched how the story artists looked to real-life inspiration and architecture to create some of the most well-known animated kingdoms. We also explored Disney's latest ventures into cross-character and cross-universe storytelling, like Ralph Breaks the Internet where all the most beloved characters were present in one environment.

Design System

Embodying royalty

Our main fonts are Avenir and Baskerville. We sought to embody a sense of regality and elegance in our color palette, which led us to choose plum and gold as our main colors.

Sketches and wireframes

Selected notes, mockups, and wireframes

I did research on Disney's real-life castle inspirations for the movies, including Chateau de Chambord (Belle's live-action castle), Neuschwanstein Castle (Sleeping Beauty/Cinderella), Mont Saint-Michel (Tangled) to set the stage for our gameplay. Wireframes were created in Figma and interaction design was completed in Principle.

User Feedback

I only wish it were a real game! I think you are spot on. I love how you can sort based on age from the menu to find what’s most relevant for your child. From there the organization is great based on subject, matter, etc. And the subjects themselves are perfect — love that you added coding in there. And the preview ad is perfect!

 

- Ashley, mid-30s

 

They look incredible, not only do they visually look amazing but the story lines are incredible and really give the children the ability to learn and explore new topics. One thing you could do, if you were going to build these out for real is create a storyline that helps with correct emotional responses, matching the right response to the scenario. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to review this, I’m really blown away what an incredible job.

 

- Lenore, mid-40s

 

A lot of tears and a lot of emotions. Seeing Belle’s castle was like oh my gosh, I want to see this in real life. I wish this was real and as an adult I wish I could use this. If I was learning English for the first time, this would be a great way to do it by playing games and watching movies.

 

- Dinma, early-20s

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Iterative Prototypes

Leveraging the power of 3D modeling and mapping technology with Google Earth Studio

In order to bring our stories to life, we used Google Earth Studio to find settings for our stories, importing the scenes into After Effects to create the final compositions. Shown above is the original sequence for Belle's Castle (Chateau de Chambord)

Image property of Google Earth Studio

 
Image by Jayme McColgan

Reflection

Sometimes the smallest things make the biggest impact

 

The most rewarding part of this project was seeing the reactions and feedback from the families themselves and knowing that we had tapped into something meaningful. Charleen and I had so many other ideas we wanted to put into this project, including how to make our stories and user experience work for children with disabilities and autism. In presenting our project in class, we framed it in the context of Disney's existing tech resources like StudioLab and Imagineering, two potential departments that could make something like our idea a reality. This project allowed me to explore childlike wonder once more, and I hope to continue using that for all my projects.

Let's connect! 

 

marisliu16@gmail.com

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