Blockchain and cryptocurrency are becoming part of the world’s daily discourse. Most of us should have heard of cryptocurrency by now. But who has actually already used it before? Our client, Lectoraat Netwerkcultuur aims to study how blockchain wallets can be designed to facilitate a broader understanding of the influence of blockchain technology, and define what good or bad wallet design is. Blockchain was born out of the finance crisis. The idea was it to decentralise the whole system. Instead of a few banks holding all the money and making people dependant, the blockchain technology puts the power in a lots of individual hands.
Type of project: Student project
Client: Lectoraat Netwerkcultuur
Project time: 3 months
Team members: Sander Boer, Chantal Ramzy, Bugra Kantar
Our findings were based on literacy research, market analyse, interviews with users and testing out different digital wallets. One of the biggest issues is, that it is complicated to get started. There is no margin for error. If you forget your password for example, your money is gone.
There are a lot of options for wallets, markets and suppliers, which is quite overwhelming. Mining for bitcoins is not relevant anymore, because the more people participate, the smaller the reward for mining. It will be the underlying technology of the future, which will be invisible for the masses.
Because it is based on code, it it hackable (especially because it is opensource).
The question for us was, which features do users prefer? How do they want to be introduced to blockchain wallets and what is important to them?
The idea was it to put a complicated and serious topic into a gameful atmosphere to improve the learning curve of young adults. You learn better when you are having fun, more effectively through some healthy competition and you are encouraged to look at things from a new angle.
We used the farm as a metaphor to simulate the blockchain market. The advantages are, that it is easy to grasp because of its familiarity. The farm stands for your digital wallet with its cryptocurrencies in form of wool, milk and bacon. In the real world you receive rewards for mining in form of specific cryptocurrencies, in our game your animals will produce their specific goods. On the market you be able to buy and sell these goods to earn more money. To protect your goods from being stolen, you can put them in a vault. In reality, people put their digital money on an analogue stick or in a real vault, to protect it from hackers or thieves.
We made an analogue game to test its mechanism, by making the calculations ourselves and drawing cards with numbers on it to change the market. What we could observe, that the game was fun, but our users were overwhelmed with the amount of information. We decided to split our game in different phases to keep the introduction fun and simple. Based on that a storyline and the interface were developed.
0 - Onboarding/Tutorial
Introduce user to storyline
First transaction (buy currency)
1 - Currency Generation
2 - Second layer
Introduce second currency
Wallet upgrade (optional):
- being able to use a second currency,
- send money to another user
Wallet feature addons
3 - Actions & Vault
Introduce Action cards such as:
- Transaction fee slashed
- Mining power multiplier
Introduce the Vault.
I was responsible for the illustration, based on the storyline I developed before. Regarding to our more childish metaphor “farm”, but our adult target group, it was important to combine it with a minimalistic illustration style to balance our design. Especially inspiring here was the bold and minimalistic style by graphic artist Malika Favre who uses common color theories, like the theory of warm and cold colours to create depth, but also by breaking these rules, creating a mystic feeling around her artwork. This color style in combination with simple forms like circles and rectangles, created the final design language for the illustrations.
The final game was programmed by our team's front-end developer and thus playable. We tested the game several times with class mates. We received several insights, which points in our game still would have to be improved in the future. What we definitely could proof, the game is really fun!
The queen needs help from her decentralised farmers, because of rising rates by official traders and the Master of Coin. She invests in every farmer a bag of gold, giving everybody the equal change to become the new Master of Coin.
In our early user tests, we realised the importance of an easy introducing of the game, by starting with one option and introducing new options and features in each round.
From now on, the player will be in competition with the other players to make money from selling and buying goods (wool, milk, bacon) and animals (sheep, cow, pig) from the merchants, but also producing own goods. The prize depends on supply and demand, wool with the most stabile value and bacon with the least one.
In later rounds the vault will be introduced, to protect your farm from thieves, as well as different addons to improve your farm and market conditions.
The vault is secured by password, consisting of little pictures. If you forget this one, you will have no access to the vault anymore and your belongings are gone for good. This happens also in the real world, people losing their password and with it their money.
Addons resemble the different features digital wallets provide. You choose, which features you want to add to your farm to improve the conditions for buying and selling or the security of your farm. It is interesting to see, which addons the users will prefer, especially under time pressure and limited amount of money.
In the last round the user will be introduced to action cards. With these the gameplay will become more interactive with the other users and the fun curve rises.
You can pick attack cards, which are similar to hackers stealing cryptocurrencies, hormones for your animals to improve production, a spy to get a peak view in your competitors' farms or grandma, who protects your farm from thieves, as she sees everything.
Copyright © 2018 Lena Heinrich