BurnIn was a project completed during my time at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment. The purpose of the project was to design a game or app with a focus on the user experience. The specific briefs we were given were designed by fellow students who were treated as clients for the duration.
Our team was “contracted” by “YourGame Incubator Facilities” to develop an application to raise awareness of, and prevent the onset of burnout. “YourGame Incubator Facilities” is an all-inclusive incubator facility, offering a professional workspace and continual support for new indie video game developers.
The main aspect of this issue that struck us was the complete imbalance that occurs in new developers' work-life balance, and how they are often oblivious to the detrimental effects this has up until burnout occurs. They approached us to create a “burnout tracker”, which encourages mental and physical self-care via tracking data and their general feelings throughout their project.
So we came up with BurnIn, an advanced activity/metric tracker that promotes a healthier day-to-day lifestyle and encourages communication and teamwork. Our program, designed with the idea of implementing it as a Google Chrome Extension, provided a range of activities that can be tracked each day. These activities included - work, breaks, exercise, meals, leisure, social engagements, and sleep.
Each employee has an individual page, where they will be able to track all the metrics required of them. Each metric has a daily average time allotment, derived from consultations with medical professionals for the more essential metric, while less essential metrics can be decided by the team within reason.
Each day, individual metrics will be compared to the daily average, and compiled into an overall Work-Life Balance (WLB) score. This score is displayed on a gauge in the middle of the employees page, with one extreme being rest and the other work. Keeping the gauge needle in the center indicates a perfect balance of work and rest.
There is also a team page that displays the team WLB gauge which is the average of all the team members' individual gauges. To encourage a development team to use BurnIn incentives can be offered at the initial meeting. Providing a team’s WLB gauge remains within an acceptable WLB rating over the course of the project, the team will receive the incentive offered to them by "YourGame Incubator Facilities".
Created and maintained our Game Design Document
Created a production schedule, with periodic milestones
Conducted daily stand-up meetings
Assigned tasks to the appropriate party
Conducted team meetings and collated notes
Used C# to create all programmatic elements of BurnIn
Key elements included:
Collating and distributing an individual's data into their work-life balance gauge
Collating all user's data into the team gauge
Throughout development it was quickly realised that the initial path we were heading on was just a glorified activity tracker that could be seen as intrusive and could become a pain to keep track of. From that point on the team always kept 3 ideals in mind that were always thought of before adding features or making changes.
The 3 Ideals
Our ideals were as follows:
- Ease of Access
- Ease of Use, and
- Ease of Mind
First, Ease of Access. For such an potentially intensive tracker, BurnIn needed to be easy to access for the employee anytime and anywhere. Thus the idea of utilising Google Chrome as a delivery platform. BurnIn would replace the new tab page of Chrome with an employee's personalised BurnIn dashboard. From their dashboard, employees could track any metric they desire in just one click.
Secondly, Ease of Use. Tying in with very similar reasons to the first ideal, BurnIn HAD to be easy to use. Utilising streamlined UI/UX design with a minimalist display users would be able to understand, navigate and use the application with minimal training and time consumption. It was realised that having any task required by BurnIn that seemed onerous to a user would prevent the ultimate effectiveness of BurnIn, thus the minimalist approach.
Finally, Ease of Mind. The final ideal also covers the goal of BurnIn. My hope was, that by understanding and implementing the first and second ideals effectively, an app would be created that users would WANT to use. The hope was that BurnIn would not just track but also inform users of the very real dangers of burnout, and inspire them to live in a healthy manner. This is not just focused on each individual either, as the core aim was also to promote a healthy workspace with a supportive attitude and higher level of awareness among team members.
BurnIn was a great lesson in terms of designing an app with a clear, defined, and refined user experience. Unfortunately, due to the necessary time constraints and participants required to properly test the BurnIn system, it was never really possible to check the effectiveness of BurnIn, but merely thinking about in on a conceptual level opened my eyes to understanding that the way a user progresses through an app or program dictates their entire attitude towards it.
All in all it was a very successful project and a great learning experience.