How do you make sure that the game you select is enjoyable for everyone? When is a game too challenging, or just not challenging enough? And what do you do when the players at the table all have different levels? Our Tovertafel games have been developed through the co-design method, working together with the target group and their environment. The games contain special elements that make them suitable for players of different levels. Read this module to find out how we do this.
Designing layered games
At Tover we work with a team of experts to develop the best games for our target groups. The design team consists of a user-centred designer who has a thorough understanding of the target group and a game designer who knows everything about game design. Finally, our researchers ensure that the latest scientific insights are taken into consideration. This way we create compelling games that focus on what our players are still able to do. We challenge the players to interact with the games as well as with each other while gently pushing their boundaries.
Not every player is the same. That's why we make sure that players with different cognitive levels can react to different elements in a game. Some players can, for example, touch the projection with their hands while others say out loud what they see. Other players can then respond to this. This way everyone can join in!
”We opted for the Tovertafel because we wanted to be able to use the technology in all of our groups. We want to stimulate alertness in clients with severe intellectual and multiple disabilities. The projections provoke a reaction. Higher level groups can learn a lot by playing, both through the game and from each other.”
Nynke Hoitinga - care manager at Ipse de Bruggen
Each Tovertafel game has a level between 1 and 5, where 1 is the lowest level and 5 the highest level. The game level indicates the degree of cognitive challenge, which is based on the different phases of cognitive development or cognitive decline.
- Level 1 games focus solely on perception (to become aware of something through the senses). For example, players must be able to see the light projections or hear the sounds in the game.
We do not offer games with level 1 yet. For example soundscapes or moving (video) images.
- Level 2 games encourage players to also pay attention to the sensory stimuli. Players do not only observe the games, but they can also focus their attention on them. Often perception and attention go together; these two characteristics are a prerequisite for playing games at a higher level.
Examples of level 2 games are Fish and Pond, in which players touch the fish and enjoy the sound of rippling water. The fish are always in motion to engage the players and hold their attention..
- In level 3 games, players must use their memory. Whereas level 2 games have no beginning or end, level 3 games have a goal that has to be achieved. The players need to be able to hold their attention for a little while in order to grasp the objective of the game. But nothing can go wrong: every action is rewarded.
The Nostalgia Puzzle is an example a level 3 game. Players are challenged to do a familiar action that no longer comes automatically to them. In this case, they need to put all the puzzle pieces together and guess what image is projected. Another example is the Pairs game, which challenges players to finding the matching pairs.
- Level 4 games trigger thinking and reasoning skills. This means that players can also make mistakes when playing games at this level. How the players play the game determines whether or not the final goal is achieved.
Wordsmith is a game that challenges players to guess the missing letters and complete the word. Players can keep trying until the correct letter is found.
- Level 5 games appeal to the brain's so-called executive functions, such as planning and decision making. These are the most complex cognitive functions. These functions are developed last in the development of the brain during childhood. Executive cognitive dysfunction is typically the first area of cognitive impairment in people with dementia. Therefore, level 5 games are too challenging for people in the middle and late stages of dementia. For people in the early stages of dementia, these games are challenging but still doable. Scientific studies have shown that these types of games can slow down cognitive decline in people in the early stages of dementia.
An example of a level 5 game is Shopping List, in which players are challenged to remember the groceries on the list for a certain time and to reproduce this information.
The game levels serve two purposes. They can help you to select a game that suits the players' levels. The layered game design ensures that players of different cognitive levels – provided the levels are not too far apart – can share a gaming experience with each other. Players with a lower level may not be able grasp the objective of the game, but they can still enjoy touching the projections (at the action-response level). Meanwhile, you can challenge players with a higher cognitive level. For example, by asking questions that trigger memory.