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In 90 Days – Save The Children

My Role

Lead Game Designer, Narrative Designer

The Platform

Mobile App

My Tools
Unity3D + Playmaker, Miro, Google Slides + Docs + Sheets, Jira, Slack, Paper Prototyping
  • Award winning game – Gold at the Serious Play Awards 2022 and Gold at Learning Technologies Award 2021

  • Worked in close synergy with the Save The Children product owners and conducted in-depth interviews with on-the-ground field managers to ensure an accurate, holistic representation of the subject matter

  • Co-designed a comprehensive non-linear narrative system, accessible to other team members (inc devs, artists and copywriters) via integrated Google Sheets

  • Developed key plot lines and narrative themes for the game, and wrote first-pass copy with a word count of more than 18k words – an average 90 minute Hollywood film script

We cannot address every problem here, and won’t get everything right. So act now, before our supply lines are disrupted.

INGOs (international non-governmental organisations) are often tasked with responding to incredibly challenging crises in disaster-stricken areas of the world. Save The Children is one such INGO that commissioned PRELOADED to make an educational training game, in which their STC field managers (on-the-ground organisers in disaster zones) would have a simulated space to learn about the types of challenging situations they might experience. 

Some of their other goals included: integrating the learning criteria into a pre-existing HPass badge system that allowed field managers to demonstrate their growing knowledge; translation into four different languages as field managers were sometimes local to the affected crisis zones; a non-reliance on unrealistic mechanics that may suggested crises could be solved or people easily ‘saved’; presenting believable scenarios that would be relevant to field managers working anywhere in the world, not just in specific contexts; available offline to managers who have no internet service out in the field / traveling via plane to a destination.

The resulting product, In 90 Days, was designed to address all these outcomes. With a focus on making hard choices, learners are required to deal with issues such as limited resources and the competing pressures involved in alleviating suffering in sustainable ways. Upon choosing one of three crisis scenarios (Pandemic, Rural Conflict, Climate Migration) the user received a narrative briefing and instructions on the initial crucial step to arriving in the situation: Key Informant Interviews and a Needs Analysis. Since the game relies on text-based reading with evocative imagery to set the scene, we ensured the informants that you meet in these interviews return throughout each interaction to lend authentic guides to the scenario. 

To advance, learners must make trade-offs between timeliness, quality, and economic factors – you can only pick two, and the other is always left out. Making decisions results in the 90 day timer ticking down. This choice triggers a new set of possible narrative moments that the learner could discover from the overview map. Each moment is only then available for a few rounds, providing a sense of urgency and a need to prioritise between different spinning plates. Random events such as increasingly worsening environmental conditions also added a sense of the unpredictability of working in such critical conditions. At the end of 90 days, the player is awarded HPass badges matched with learning objectives successfully encountered, and given a concise rundown of their path through the narrative and the overall impact of their choices.

My role was pivotal in fleshing out each of the scenarios, designing the weighting system that governed how and when narrative moments would appear in response to the player interactions, and ensuring that the needs of real field managers were championed in the development process. I was able to deep-dive into the research and literature around the work of Save The Children and extract the key identifying factors that could be used to make a serious training game that was both informative, strategic and engaging to play. I also provided the support required to make test plans and design QA processes to test the narrative systems at work behind the scenes.

In 90 Days won two Gold awards, one at the Learning Technologies Awards 2021 and one at the Serious Play Awards 2022.