Kika MacFarlane ’19 talks about the game she invented as part of her Keystone.

What’s your Question?

“How do we design play?” I’ve been focusing on product design, social psychology and mathematics.

Why Quest?

I was in love with the idea of an interdisciplinary education. I was caught between focusing on mathematics/engineering in my undergraduate degree, or pursuing art and design. At Quest, I saw the opportunity to pursue design and product engineering from many different academic fields, combining schools of thought in a way I wouldn’t be able to do anywhere else. Additionally, my parents both went to Colorado College, so I grew up hearing about the incredible ways the Block Plan improves learning and inspires engagement. I wouldn’t want to dive into a subject in any other way!

Tell us about HOOT.

Partly for my Keystone and also out of love, for the last year I’ve been working on a game I designed called Hoot. Hoot is a creative party game for 4 to 10+ players. Each round, one player is the judge. The other players use a randomly generated string of letters to create phrases that best fit a category card. For example, if the letters were Q-U-E-S-T, players could write “quit upsetting everybody’s soft tummies!” or “quilters undergo extra scary turbulence.”

The game always produces unique and ridiculous answers, and it’s different every time you play. My hope is to develop it into an app, as well. It’s been an amazing project because I designed every aspect, from gameplay to graphic design, but I also learned about product and business development, too.

Is it called HOOT because you like owls? It’s a hoot to play…? Or because you give a hoot?

Definitely because it’s a hoot to play…but also because it’s so easy to come up with HOOT acronyms! Hilarious Opportunities Often Turn-up!

How did you come up with the idea?

I came up with the idea when I did a study abroad program through one of our partner schools, the University of Wales Trinity St David. I spent a semester in Swansea studying product design. One of the projects was to create a board game! I’ve always loved witty word games. It took a lot of refining and testing with other exchange students, but eventually turned into something so fun I couldn’t stop working on it!

Hoot is also part of your Keystone? Details, please!

I’m researching how technology influences game play and group dynamics. What I’m particularly curious about is anonymity.  It’s been shown that playing anonymously online can produce more aggressive and cruel behaviour because there is limited accountability.

In Hoot, there is opportunity to behave anti-normatively in the phrases that players write down. I am investigating, through original research, how technology would influence both the creativity and the anti-normativity, and how that affects game enjoyment. I hypothesis that playing Hoot anonymously online would lead to an increase in inappropriate phrases, but decrease in game enjoyment. I’m hoping to use my research findings to develop Hoot into an online app, but in a way that preserves creativity and enjoyment, and provides a safe environment that fosters play.

How can people support HOOT?

Right now, Hoot is on Kickstarter until November 10! By pledging $25, you can receive a copy of Hoot when it’s manufactured and shipped in March 2019. If you miss out on the Kickstarter, you can still pre-order at the same link.

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