Embody is a PC-based 2-D endless runner game that focuses on issues relating to body image and self image among young males. Embody was inspired by the idea of helping young males understand that the male body image is diverse, unique and more importantly that there is no ideal body image. This is an important topic to address because of the lack of diversity and strong portrayal of what a perfect body is within media; specifically in advertising. This is can also be called Muscle Dysmorphia.
Through Human-Centered Design and UX design, we conducted user research, open-ended interviews, and usability testing to create a fun, immersive and meaningful experience for our audience. You can follow my personal blog throughout the development process here.
My Role and Duties
Lead Game Developer
How can we promote positive self & body image among adolescent males in our society that is heavily influenced with the perception of attaining a perfect body?
Challenge Misconceptions & Self-Doubt
Encouraging Appreciation & Diversity
Create a game with a focus on male body image that the target audience can understand
Research and User Testing
In order to find out our target audience, we conducted surveys, in-person interviews, and do a cultural probe. We asked them general questions ranging from what kind of devices they used on a daily basis to how much they were concerned about their own looks.We found that our primary target audience was males ranging from 15-18 years old. Our secondary audience would be college students.
We also conducted multiple rounds of user testing to validate our game in terms of what we wanted to achieve for our goals. Each user testing session had the same protocol to ensure that testing would be consistent. The only thing that would have changed was the build that the testers would be playing. We tested random people ranging from high-schools to our own college.
We did validation testing at our final build of the game. The results of our validation testing results are below. In the end, we did achieve our goal of a connection between male body dysphoria in a game format. However, there were still some testers, who didn't understand the concept of the connection in the game. But overall the testers were able to understand the characters and the negative body image theme.
Developing Embody was a bit of a challenge since I'm not a developer. I had to learn how to code with Unity and make Nick's art come to life in the game engine. Co-developing with Jacky proved good, as we were able to split tasks as he worked on tasks that would be major releases to Embody while I would be working to make them better as well as optimization. We talk more about our developing and design process in the video below.
The Final Build
In the end, we were able to create a game that the audience could relate to in terms of male Muscle Dysmorphia through our final validation testing. Below are videos of the final build as well as our explanation video of what went into creating Embody. This is one of my favorite projects because I was able to contribute in both the development and the design process of Embody.
What would I do differently looking back?
In the end, we did create a demo, but looking back there were definitely areas that could've been improved with more time. For example, the text were a bit small so people sometimes had difficulty reading them. We originally wanted this for mobile devices, so that's another thing that I would improve, to make it mobile-friendly. In terms of UX, I think if we figured out a cooler mechanic to make the game a bit more dynamic, that would've been much better.