Social Clues

Social Clues is a puzzle-adventure game for children with autism and developmental disabilities that teaches pragmatics and social skills. Players control Pete and Kate Mum as they traverse a stylized, cartoon world to search for their lost toys. Behind the scenes player actions are tracked via key metrics, providing parents and therapists informative data and insight into player progression and behavioral change.

Social Clues is a USC Advanced Games project for the 2013/2014 school year. On the project I played a role of both programmer and designer, with a focus on developing the minigames the player encounters throughout the game. The purpose of the minigames is to provide a fun escape from the social learning part of the game, while teaching them important lessons through their context within the story. We tailored each minigame for young children, especially those with autism.

As part designer and programmer, I worked with other designers on the Social Clues team to design minigames and other in-game interactions during our meetings, and then prototyped and iterated on minigame ideas. Rapid protoyping was a large part of my job, and I was required to create and iterate on minigames quickly so I could constantly show my work and get feedback. Once the main mechanics of a minigame is finished, I would often continue working on the game to further polish it.

A personal project I had within Social Clues was designing and developing tutorials for the various minigames. Because the minigames in Social Clues are very diverse, with gameplay mechanics that range from drag-and-drop matching to tapping on hidden objects, the tutorials are important to introduce players to each new game. Social Clues’s demographic is primarily children with Autism (who are very visual thinkers), so it’s important that they’re introduced to new gameplay concepts not only through verbal instructions but through demonstration as well.

(Fall 2013/Spring 2014)