Passages, Dark Sky ARchitect

A Game about Light and dark.

Passages is a unique augmented reality game that guides the player through some of Dublin’s most famous sites. By exploring the use of light and its effect on the environment it reveals a hidden aspect of Ireland that is often forgotten, its beautiful skies.

  • Concept Development
  • Game Concept
  • UX Research and Design
  • Branding
  • UI Design

Problem statement

Light pollution occurs when artificial, mainly external lights brighten the sky causing disruption to natural cycles in humans, animals and plants and obstruct the view of stars and planets. The result of light pollution is the visual obstruction of millions of stars, the enormous waste of energy and fuels to power them and the disruption of human and animal circadian rhythms that result in long term health issues. However, with focus on other forms of climate issues – how do we empower our citizens to pay attention to light?

UX Research

Mobile gaming and awareness survey

Along side in depth secondary research, I conducted a series of primary user research including an electronic survey to discover Irish opinions on energy consumption, their knowledge of light pollution and what is the general experience level within educational games, especially in mobile gaming within adults.

Expert Interview with Professor Brian Espey, TCD

Along side the survey, I interviewed with Astrophysicist and Light pollution expert Professor Brian Epsey of Trinity College Dublin. Professor Epsey described the depth of the issue but also how counter intuitive methods are being used to tackle waste in light infrastructure in Ireland. 

Research blog

More information about the project can be found on my research blog at https://laurendaygraphicdesign.wordpress.com

Findings

Results from the research confirmed that over 60% of users use mobile gaming and there was a general low knowledge of light pollution, but an interest to understand it more. Most users used their phones while traveling and none had any issues with using gaming as an educational device. The interview with Dr. Espey was also very revealing highlight that light pollution is easy enough to fix, but doing so and instilling long term commitment is a much harder message to get across.

Solution

The project proposed that using mobile gaming to build knowledge and curiosity of light would act as a creative way to reach an audience that is otherwise over saturated with eco-friendly messaging. The project was conducted in 2017 before the climate movement of more recent years and was set in a time when movement towards a greener society was low in the priority. Passages, Dark Sky Architect is a mobile game that encourages user to explore Dublin, interact with unique spatial architecture that plays with light and in doing so unveil an augmented reality map of a true dark sky. The game was a platform to advertise and encourage the Dark Sky reserves that Ireland has on the west coast, a unique tourism opportunity and some of the only sites of this calibre in Europe.

Prototype and Testing

The app was prototyped using Adobe XD and tested with 7 participants, aged between 25 and 65 years old. The result of the testing showed a general enthusiasm for the concept, though limitations on the feasibility of replicating a true A.R. environment without development arose, leading to some requirement for imagination. There were minor issues around on boarding with older participants, which were iterated on with a second prototype.

App Screens

Passages, Dark Sky Architect is a unique augmented reality game that guides the player through some of Dublin’s most famous sites. By exploring the use of light and its effect on the environment it reveals a hidden aspect of Ireland that is often forgotten, its beautiful skies.

At each location the player will discover a puzzle game that is designed to reflect the specific architectural space it occupies. 

Once passed, a star is won, which does towards building the constellation that represents that level.

Once a constellation is complete the user can unlock a section of an augmented reality star map, behind which is reveal what the sky would look like with any light pollution. The more the user plays and unlocks, the more sky is revealed.

Supporting deliverables

The project also including a custom-built website and marketing materials including a brochure for display in tourist offices, cafes etc. that folded out in to a unique Passages star map poster.