When we were given the topic of the 2010 OZCHI Student Design Challenge, we brainstormed a lot of possible paths that we could explore, such as abandoned buildings, network space, memory, etc.

We listed all the options we had and decided to define a problem we want to tackle. Then we decided to focus on the city where we lived, Bloomington, Indiana. Bloomington has a huge diversity of students’ demographic. We have more than 4600 international students. Helping them to live a more colorful life in here is a meaningful thing to do.

In our user research, we interviewed some international students of IUB. We get insight that they would like to socialize with people but location and transportation could be holding them back.

We then narrowed down our design to an unused physical space – swimming pool in the wintertime, so as to help them get connected to local communities. One reason is that normally every community has a pool and it is near where the international students live. Holding events there might attract more international students because of ease of access.

Our core of the design is to revitalize the winter pool into a social practice between international students and local community through Puzzle Hunt. Puzzle Hunt is a game that combines with puzzle solving and treasure hunting, which informs a better social interaction among people of the neighborhood. Those people can be international students and local residents.

They could activate this game through a smart phone application. When walking around in the pool to search for puzzles pieces, they can use the application to grab to puzzles displayed in the digital mat around the pool, and put that piece into the right section of the puzzle image by sending the puzzle image through the phone. By offering this interesting social game in winter, we hope that international students could have a “warmer time” in the cold winter.

We built our prototype by using mega puzzles, printing pictures and cardboards. We simulated the experience of playing Puzzle Hunt and invited 3 participants to our usability test. Drawing from the usability feedback, we re-designed a multi-dimensional feedback and a picture progress hint that will help the player enjoy the game more.

In the future, we will look into the space of how to storage the game for individual but remain collaborative.