Run! Luna.

Run! Luna is a story game aimed to raise the awareness of children ages 8-12 about the impacts of consumerism and encourage them to seek positive alternatives for happiness.
The Trailer
Luna’s fantasy is to own the world’s coolest sneakers! She so wants to be trendy and the hippest kid in town! But ... to make her dreams come true she decided to trade with the owner of a sneaker factory and run the treadmill there ...

The Design

The Story
The story of Luna is about the impact of consumerism and what can bring one true happiness. With the story game, I wish to raise awareness among young audiences ages 8-12, enable them to realize that shopping cannot bring them long term happiness. If they want to gain happiness from buying, they need to keep getting new things like running on a treadmill and it is a never-ending cycle.
Character Design
Luna ​
 
Age: 9 years old
Race: Asian
Relationship: Only child, daughter
Occupation: Student
Grade: 3rd grade
Pet: Snowball
Favorite Possession: iPad
Characteristic: Easy-going, introverted, likes new things
Snowball
 
Age: 6 years old
Animal: Rabbit
Relationship: Family pet
Favorite Activity: Playing with Luna
Characteristic: Outgoing, active, friendly
Environment Design
Jeremy​
 
Age: 9 years old
Race: Asian
Relationship: Second child, son
Occupation: Student
Grade: 3rd grade
Favorite Brand: Star
Characteristic: Outgoing, smart, friendly
Star​
 
Age: unknown
Type: Robot
Occupation: Factory owner
Favorite Brand: Star
Characteristic: Brutal, cold, profit driven
Classroom
Elementary school third-grade classroom where Luna and Jeremy take classes.
Playroom
Luna's playroom where she plays with her iPad, toys, and Snowball.
Star Factory 
The Star factory is where all the Star shoes are made. The Star factory relies on kids to generate power to produce all the Star shoes.
Backyard
 
Luna and Snowball enjoy playing the backyard, they often dance there and they enjoy a breath of fresh air.

Prototype and playtest

 
For user testing, I went through 3 phases. I tested the playable prototype with my family members, the core game prototype with friends and classmates, and the complete prototype with kids.
Playable prototype and playtest
 
For the playable prototype, I wanted to know whether people can understand how to play the game, what they think the game is about and who it is for.
The gameplay was very simple. The players can click the mouse to let Luna run and every time they click the mileage will increase and they can use the mileage gained to buy shoes that have different mileage values.
Playtest:

Because there wasn’t a lot of feedback in the game when I tested, the player was confused with different states of the shoes (inactive: greyed out, active: colored, sold: greyed out with “Sold” written on top). The player didn’t notice the state changes and didn’t know what “Sold” means. In terms of understanding the game, I found out that the player thought the game is about shopping, and it is for adults.

Core game prototype and playtest
 

For the core game prototype, besides adding more shoes, I also added more notifications and feedback.

I added a dialogue box that informs people of how to play the game.

I added a dialogue box that informs people of how to play the game.

I created floating text, when people click once, there will be text animation that says “+1 Mile“
When people stop running, the factory will say “Run Luna, my factory needs you“
I made state changes more clear between inactive, active, and sold states.
Inactive
Active
Sold

Playtest:

The feedback I received is that people can understand what the game is about and the different state changes, but they think the rewards after buying shoes could be more fun, the buying part could be more obvious like buying in-store and they wish there is

a choice to quit the game instead of force quit the game when Luna has used up her energy.

Complete prototype and playtest

For the complete prototype, I added a choice to quit the job.

I added a shopping bag and animation for the shoes to be added to the shopping bag after purchase.

I also added star particles that spawn out of the factory’s mouth after the player purchases shoes to make the reward for buying seem more fun.

Playtest:

For this round of testing, I tested with children. They mentioned that they really like the story of the game, they think it is unlike Mario games and other commercial games for children. Run! Luna has more social impact. They also really enjoyed the gameplay especially the dancing part. Overall, since I tested the story and the gameplay in previous rounds, there were almost no misunderstandings when it came to interaction.

Evaluation
The thesis concept originated from my own childhood obsession with Barbie. After many iterations of concept statements and the project ended up with a story game about a 9-year-old girl Luna.
Throughout the process, I learned the importance of knowing how to speak to 8-12-year-olds - what do they like, what would resonate with them. After speaking with them I realized that they are more knowledgeable than me about sneakers, they use TikTok and they perceive Apple devices as their toys.
The story for Run! Luna came up after I observed my niece’s obsession with Jordan shoes and it reminded me of my own obsession with Barbie. Knowing the consequences, I wish my niece and other kids can understand the impact of consumerism and be truly happy.
Additionally, I wish to encourage them to seek happiness from other ways like playing outdoors, spending time with friends that I know would bring them long-lasting happiness.
Run! Luna can now be downloaded from Itch.io:

© 2020 by Queena Wang.