Transforming a word game into an app

Transforming a word game into an app

USER EXPERIENCE  •  KETTLE FOR PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE  •  NEW YORK CITY

ART DIRECTOR & UX  •  KETTLE FOR PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE  •  NEW YORK CITY

ART DIRECTOR & UX  •  KETTLE FOR PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE  •  NEW YORK CITY

ART DIRECTOR & UX  •  KETTLE FOR PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE  •  NEW YORK CITY

ART DIRECTOR & UX  •  KETTLE FOR PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE  •  NEW YORK CITY

Mad Libs is a phrasal template word game where one player prompts others for a list of words to substitute for blanks in a story before reading the–often comical or nonsensical–story aloud. The game is popular across all age groups in the U.S., and more than 110 million copies of Mad Libs books have been sold since the series was first published in 1958. [1]

Role

For this project, I was tasked with leading user experience for the redesign of the Mad Libs iOS app. Our client, Penguin Random House, felt that the current app lacked the playfulness that is apparent in the traditional format of the game. After an extensive research period, we worked through multiple iterations with an aggressive timeline. We were able to simplify the experience into one main user flow while visual exploration was simultaneously taking place. I presented strategy, wireframes, and interactions to the client on a weekly basis, and once approved, I oversaw the visual design and implementation. I supported in design direction and sound design.

Role

For this project, I was tasked with leading user experience for the redesign of the Mad Libs iOS app. Our client, Penguin Random House, felt that the current app lacked the playfulness that is apparent in the traditional format of the game. After an extensive research period, we worked through multiple iterations with an aggressive timeline. We were able to simplify the experience into one main user flow while visual exploration was simultaneously taking place. I presented strategy, wireframes, and interactions to the client on a weekly basis, and once approved, I oversaw the visual design and implementation. I supported in art direction and sound design.

Role

For this project, I was tasked with leading user experience for the redesign of the Mad Libs iOS app. Our client, Penguin Random House, felt that the current app lacked the playfulness that is apparent in the traditional format of the game. After an extensive research period, we worked through multiple iterations with an aggressive timeline. We were able to simplify the experience into one main user flow while visual exploration was simultaneously taking place. I presented strategy, wireframes, and interactions to the client on a weekly basis, and once approved, I oversaw the visual design and implementation. I supported in art direction and sound design.

Role

For this project, I was tasked with leading user experience for the redesign of the Mad Libs iOS app. Our client, Penguin Random House, felt that the current app lacked the playfulness that is apparent in the traditional format of the game. After an extensive research period, we worked through multiple iterations with an aggressive timeline. We were able to simplify the experience into one main user flow while visual exploration was simultaneously taking place. I presented strategy, wireframes, and interactions to the client on a weekly basis, and once approved, I oversaw the visual design and implementation. I supported in art direction and sound design.

Mad Libs iOS App Map
Mad Libs iOS App Map
MadLibs UX Map

Goals

Our main goal was to gamify the experience, but still stay true to the paper-based version in remaining uncompetitive. The traditional format of Mad Libs did not have a scoring system because it was meant to be fun and engaging without rivalry. The stories could be replayed over and over again with new results each time. So how do we gamify without a point system?

In addition to gamification, we needed to digitally convey the colorful world of Mad Libs. To translate the vast collection of Mad Libs books, the deliverable was required to be applicable to over 140 books, each with different themes, subjects, and licensed materials.

madlibs-iosapp

Gamification

After identifying the most important characteristics of the game, we were able to enhance Mad Libs’ existing assets to gamify the experience. For example, their mascot “Phill”, who is on the cover of every book, is now incorporated as your personal cheerleader, giving you feedback as you play, and swiping Phill left or right gives you helpful hints.

Creation, Progression & Feedback
MadLibs UX iOS 1
Help & Hints
MadLibs UX iOS 2
Reveal, Share & Play More
Reveal, Share & Play More
MadLibs UX iOS 3

Even though creating a story did not have a scoring system, the client still wanted it to be included in the Apple Game Center. To accommodate for this, we created a series of accomplishment goals and badges. We even gave Phill some personality by creating sets of animated positive reactions, neutral emotions, and festive face lifts.

Even though creating a story did not have a scoring system, the client still wanted it to be included in the Apple Game Center. To accommodate for this, we created a series of accomplishment goals and badges. We even gave Phill some personality by creating sets of animated positive reactions, neutral emotions, and festive face lifts.

MadLibs Phil Reactions

Successes

By creating trigger based and gesture responses supported by an upbeat and fun sound design, we were able to enhance the storytelling game to make it rewarding without promoting rivalry using a point-based system. We were successful in transforming the paper-based game into a lively native iOS app and creating a digital platform for the colorful world of Mad Libs. Now, 140 books can exist in one device, each one with a different theme or licensed version, such as Hello Kitty, Adventure Time, and Family Guy, which can also have their own proprietary app.

SUCCESSES

By creating trigger based and gesture responses supported by an upbeat and fun sound design, we were able to enhance the storytelling game to make it rewarding without promoting rivalry using a point-based system. We were successful in transforming the paper-based game into a lively native iOS app and creating a digital platform for the colorful world of Mad Libs. Now, 140 books can exist in one device, each one with a different theme or licensed version, such as Hello Kitty, Adventure Time, and Family Guy, which can also have their own proprietary app.

Successes

By creating trigger based and gesture responses supported by an upbeat and fun sound design, we were able to enhance the storytelling game to make it rewarding without promoting rivalry using a point-based system. We were successful in transforming the paper-based game into a lively native iOS app and creating a digital platform for the colorful world of Mad Libs. Now, 140 books can exist in one device, each one with a different theme or licensed version, such as Hello Kitty, Adventure Time, and Family Guy, which can also have their own proprietary app.

madlibs-world

LEARNINGS

There was a missed opportunity to enhance the social sharing aspect of the game. Once the often nonsensical story is revealed, some sentences are hilarious and might be something the player would want to share. They are able to share a screenshot of the story on social media, but this poses a problem as it doesn’t pinpoint the exact phrase or sentence. Being able to tap or highlight the words and sentences they specifically want to share may have been more impactful.

LEARNINGS

There was a missed opportunity to enhance the social sharing aspect of the game. Once the often nonsensical story is revealed, some sentences are hilarious and might be something the player would want to share. They are able to share a screenshot of the story on social media, but this poses a problem as it doesn’t pinpoint the exact phrase or sentence. Being able to tap or highlight the words and sentences they specifically want to share may have been more impactful.

MadLibs App Store

The Team

Kettle NYC, Agency
Penguin Random House, Client
Jeffrey Rodriguez, Designer
Jarold Guzman, Illustrator

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