"FREE AND     
            CHALLENING PLAY"

DOMIO

Product design, Child Culture Design

Domio encourages children to play with different levels of challenge and communicate with each other while playing. The Domio helps to build an open-ended play space for children to create their own games.

2021.09-2022.06

Designed by Chelsea.Wang

How to encourage children to develop and explore their control over challenging situations through challenging facilities and environment?

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Playing facilities are scattered and there is free space between them for children to run or play their own games.

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There will also be a storage room in mostly larger outdoor playground where children can borrow toys or tools that can be played here. It normally contains cars or tools for sand playing, children’s bikes, ski equipment for children and some spare space on the shelf.

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Environment condition: there are mainly three types of ground: sand, grass and EPDM ground...

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Benches are always around the playground.

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Inspirations - Reasoning in design model

This model will illustrate inspirations related to the following aspects: Form, Using conditions, Functions, Needs and Values. The pictures will contain projects done by other designers or artists, random shapes and material pieces that relate to the topic, relevant scenarios or using conditions... This model helps to inspire my design on a more detailed level.

1.

Form:
geometrical and material
form of design

Workshop with soft materials: create protecting tools by themselves to protect them in order to explore “risky” elements in the room.

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Materials that can be used to communicate with each other, and also attached to body.

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Simple geometric shapes can create a constant dynamic effect.

Materials that contact to body: irregular shapes and textures help to create different touching and visual feelings

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2.

Functions:
express the purpose of design

This project inspires me in a lot of aspects:
Firstly, it is very simple and easy to understand. The participants can start the activity on their own without any instructions. Secondly, it contains many possibilities for interaction, both between people and the environment and between people and people. They can find their own role in it and have the freedom to change it at will.

3.

NEED AND VALUES:
What kind of play this project can support?

Free and risky Play:
Keep balance in different challenging levels.

Physical play:
Walk, run, sit and more...

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This activity is similar to the first one, but is more complicate in appearances. One can see some clear interaction in its exterior design, but by and large it is designed to be very open-ended.

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This project has more explicit restrictions on location and interaction methods, but still leaves room for functionality. Sometimes these restrictions are what inspire participants to explore new ways of playing.

Cooperative Play:
Communicate and react to each other.

Creative play:
Create new ways to play through increased familiarity with the game.

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These sketches shows the process of concept generation from the first vague ideas to the details of the current design. All ideas related to the final design have been marked up to show the coherence of the design more clearly.

The main part can be curved or in other shapes, in order to add challenging level from another perspective.

Different challenging levels:
by changing the length of beams and the location of pivot.

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Joints:
both durable and flexible

Greater contact area with the ground for greater stability

Foundation:
extra inner support for stability

Buffer Point:
Protects players from being caught in the board while cushioning the impact

I started to explore the structure with laser-cut models. By building it piece by piece, it helps me to think how can I assemble different parts in the real scale. 

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Before setting the base dimensions for the prototype, I made a simple long board out of paper shells to find a suitable width and length. The board was marked with three lengths on which I walked evenly, walked fast, ran and jumped as well as turned. The right width should fully accommodate all of these movements.
In the end I decided to use 200mm as the width and 3m as the length.

Joints for the 1:1 prototype are connected by elastic ropes. Although the final product should be linked by rubber sheets and screws to ensure long-lasting use. However, as the prototype needs to be disassembled and reassembled frequently, this temporary connection would be more convenient.

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Level 1

I made two sets of 1:1 prototypes. They were divided into two challenge levels. They both have the same base height, the difference is in the length of the planks.
The first level consists of two 3m long planks with fixed bases and no changing of the position of the shafts.

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Level 2

The second level consists of two 2m and one 1.5m planks. Compared to the first stage, they have a steeper slope. And as they are made up of three planks joined together, it is also necessary for the players to pay more attention to the movements of the others to judge how to keep their balance.

workshop with children

Using the two sets of prototypes above as a basis, I invited two groups of children of different ages to do two workshops, one per week. As my design was intended for an outdoor children’s place, a minimum playable age needed to be defined. The whole workshop was divided into two parts, the first part was a free exploration where the children and the teacher could play as they wished according to their understanding.

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* All children in pictures and videos have signed the informed consent

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Group A observations

1. Play with more caution, need more help from adults
2. It is difficult for them to make a judgment on the next move
3. Less concentration and less control over their bodies
4. Follow rules rather than create ones
5. They learned from the first workshop, and they are more willing to try and explore in the second workshop.

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Group B observations

1. Play with less fear, more willing to challenge
2. More capable to anticipate the actions of others
3. More patient and willing to think before moving
4. Repeat the successful movement and get sense of satisfaction 
5. Less communication with peers, more willing to play along

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Level 1
length: 3m

Level 2
length: 2m

Level 3
length: 1.5m

User’s choices

The basic set of Domio has three levels of choices. Each level has 2-3 kinds of plank. In total, there are 8 types of planks that can be chosen. By selecting different length and different shapes of Domio, users can design their own playground with different challenge levels.

Different pivot locations

For the Domio modules in level 1 and 2, the plank is longer and there are 2-3 pivot locations that can be selected. This adds another dimension for the user to control the challenge level. Besides, when setting Domio individually, both the user and the player are free to move the position of the axes to add new game-play experiences.

Modules with different angles

Different angles at the ends of modules help to manage the direction of where the “path” goes. According to all kinds of environment conditions, users can manage the area more freely by combining modules with different angles.

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Technical documentation

The prototype consists of three main parts, the foundation, plank, and axis. Dimensions are documented for further improvement and test.

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DOMIO
Degree project in CCD