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Myosotis Garden

Myosotis Garden – digital recreational games for the elderly and their friends and family.

Strategic Initiatives of the FHNW: Myosotis Garden

The Myosotis system helps elderly people and their friends and family communicate by means of simple yet entertaining computer games with the goal of increasing social well-being. Personal pictures and sounds from the lives of the people involved form an integral part of the game and encourage the players to tell stories and engage in social interaction.

Myosotis was originally conceived by Bettina Wegenast (Fabelfabrik GmbH) in 2015 and, together with Marco Soldati, was developed as an entertainment system as part of the Computer Sciences teaching at FHNW. The games have undergone continuous development since then and have been tested and improved in close partnership with elderly people.

The Myosotis Garden project saw other games researched and developed based on the team’s practical experience to date and drawing on scientific findings. The research focused on aesthetics and the impact of the games on wellbeing. We are interested in questions such as: what impact do aesthetics and interaction have on a positive and enduring game experience? What impact does this game experience have on the wellbeing of the players? How can this be documented in a standardised way? Are there any binding rules for cross-generational computer games?

What results and impacts did the project achieve?

The Myosotis Garden project saw more than ten iPad games developed as prototypes. These were tested and improved with input from the residents and care / nursing staff of six care homes for the elderly. Thanks to more than one hundred hours of playing together, the team was able to gain a deeper understanding of the strengths and needs as well as the aesthetic preferences of the participants, some of whom were very old. These insights were used to further develop the intergenerational games.

Myosotis Garden was used to analyse the motivating factors that encourage different generations to play video games together. This is helped by personal media such as photos and topics from everyday life, as well as a game mechanism that requires coordinated action from both players. Graphics and music are central to the overall experience of the players and must achieve a high quality relatively early in the development process.

The findings from the interdisciplinary project were incorporated into a best practice guide, which has been available on the project website since January 2021. The insights of this strategic initiative are thus available free of charge for subsequent projects. External professionals developing games of this nature will also benefit from the guide going forward, as there are still many unanswered questions in this field.

Two of the Myosotis games were completed in 2020 and will be launched via Apple’s App Store in 2021. Myosotis Souvenirs is about refurnishing an old renovated house. To do this, furniture and other fittings have first to be searched for in the attic. Some items, such as picture frames and a jukebox, can be customised with pictures or music. The game also poses tasks that can only be solved in pairs, the idea being that communication and interaction are stimulated by the content as well as the gameplay.

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A new start-up launched by project staff, Holunder Games GmbH, is currently developing its first commercial game for elderly people and their relatives. It, too, is scheduled for release in 2021. Myosotis Garden has thus laid the foundation for the creation of many more games for as many elderly people with diverse needs as possible, while giving something back to the community.

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What distinguishes the interdisciplinary collaboration in the project?

From a disciplinary point of view, it makes no sense to specify, let alone answer, the question of how the Myosotis games can be designed and used expediently. In any case, developing computer games is already an interdisciplinary pursuit. Technology, creativity, design, art, music and psychology mutually benefit from one another, and it is only when they work in harmony that they can achieve the best results. Working together to develop a game encouraged all partners to maintain a dialogue, while regular testing involving partners in industry, etc. generated additional feedback from external players for incorporation into the process.

Contact

Marco Soldati
Marco Soldati Research associate
Telephone : +41 56 202 77 31 (direct)
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