Memeopoly: An AI-Powered Physical Board Game Interface for Tangible Play and Learning Art and Design
Ai powered board game to encourage customization and tangible play
For: Interaction intelligence, CHI PLAY 2023, see paper
Project team: Quincy Kuang, Lingdong Huang, Annie Dong
Playtime holds great significance in the holistic development of children and young teens, both physically and mentally. Engaging with physical toys and participating in outdoor sports fosters essential skills such as spatial interaction, socialization, and communication in the real world. However, contemporary entertainment that targets young people is predominantly screen-based media, offering simulated worlds, captivating narratives, and interactive experiences. Consequently, children and teens spend substantial amounts of time indoors, preoccupied with online activities and digital content consumption. This paradigm shift towards digital entertainment poses developmental challenges due to the absence of tangibility and face-to-face interaction. This paper introduces Memeopoly, a novel AI-powered physical board game that synergies the strengths of tangible playtime with the dynamism and interactivity of the digital realm. Integrating AI technology into the traditional play framework augments the interactive nature of physical toys, enabling a richer and more engaging game-play environment. We designed our AI system in the game to harness and empower human creativity to generate unforeseen story lines personalized to players’ unique preferences, thereby cultivating a thrilling gaming experience that surpasses the static and generic narratives typically found in traditional board games.
Memeopoly was inspired by games like dungeons and dragon where the players have the ability to customize the storyline and game play to their liking. Additionally, the allude of physical board games comes from the in person social environment where friends can joke about each other as they engage in the physical game. We hope to push this element further by leveraging the flexibility of Ai to create personalize storyline and event with ease. The initial design features a lot of technology and even some screen based interfaces. We ultimately decided to keep the game as tangible and less reliant on screen as possible to keep the board game experience physical. Here are some early sketches.
How the game works
Memeopoly is essentially a role playing board game similar to Monopoly, but with a unique twist: players have the freedom to customize the game's storyline.Each chess piece represents an actual player, and at the start of the game, a brief description of each player is submitted to ChatGPT. The AI then crafts a personalized story around each player, so every game is entirely unique.
Imagine rolling the dice and moving your chess piece to a challenging tile. Instead of a generic description of the event, ChatGPT generates a story that aligns with your character's background and personality. It could be an unfortunate event that sets you back to the starting line, or an unexpected turn of events that puts you ahead of the competition.
With ChatGPT's advanced language capabilities, players can expect an immersive and engaging experience like never before. The game combines the best of both worlds: traditional board games and the power of AI technology.
When setting up a game of Memeopoly, players simply provide concise descriptions encompassing gameplay rules, storylines, character details, and the game's setting through a user-friendly software interface. These descriptions are then saved by the software and used as prompts for ChatGPT throughout the game. The responses generated by ChatGPT are narrated by voice through the Memeoply system. By integrating AI technology, Memeoply simplifies the user experience during the setup process, while also introducing an element of randomness that enhances the excitement of gameplay
First works-like prototype:
The first prototype is quickly made to test with friends. Even though Memeopoly serves as an open platform for players to design their own games. For ease of user testing we made one simple design of the game called "Friendship Battle" to test with friends. The first round of play testing involved a group of close friends who were familiar with one another. This stage utilized an early prototype made primarily from simple and cost-effective materials like foam core and cardboard. The findings from this initial testing were intriguing: the friend group spent considerable time creating humorous drawings of each other and incorporated distinct elements to represent the friend they were responsible for drawing. The descriptions they wrote about their friends often influenced the accompanying drawings, aiming to achieve cohesiveness. Throughout the playthrough, the users engaged with the narrative generated by each action. One user noted that despite providing the descriptions themselves, the AI was able to surprise them by incorporating the references in unexpected ways within the game.
Building final prototype
Final prototype user testing
CHI PLAY 2023
User testing round 3
The process of engaging a younger audience in testing revealed important insights into the limitations of the Memeopoly system, particularly in the context of using AI for creative purposes. AI operates fundamentally on data, lacking the innate ability to conjure up captivating stories, designs, or gameplay mechanics that stem purely from creativity. In the case of Memeopoly, I recognized a critical misstep: I had substituted the most imaginative elements of the experience with AI, an entity inherently limited in its creative capacity. In contrast, the narratives and stories crafted by these children were far more vibrant and intriguing, showcasing the depth and richness of human creativity. This experience has led me to a important understanding: AI should be employed as a tool to enhance and facilitate creativity, rather than being relied upon as the primary source of creative output.