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Web3 Wonders is a graduate thesis project for the Integrated Design and Media program at New York University

Sigrid is a UX designer passionate about making intuitive, functional, and accessible design solutions. With her interest in the emergence of Web3, she started researching barriers to education and onboarding for women. This is the documentation site for her design process of Web3 Wonders, a board game to build digital literacy and Web3 competency.

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UX/UI Design

Game Design

Graduate Thesis Project

Timeframe and Role

This project took place from January until May 2023. It was an individual project, and Sigrid's role was to use user-centered design methodology to create a design solution for a problem within the space of Web3 education.

Problem Area

Web3 is a new evolution and generation of the internet that seeks to allow users to read, write, and own their data. It is often called the decentralized web, built on an ethos centered around democratic decision-making, trust, and transparency to increase privacy and individual data ownership. 

A current problem with Web3 is the lack of gender diversity and inclusivity in its adoption. Despite the promises of a more equitable web, the complex jargon and biases regarding technical knowledge and expertise have resulted in barriers to entry for many women and other gender minorities. This lack of diversity and inclusivity in the space could potentially hinder the development and success of Web3 as a more equitable and accessible version of the internet.

How might we?

How might we mitigate barriers to Web3 education to co-create the new era of our internet more equitabl

Design Methodology and Process

User-Centered Design

Survey

User research was conducted to explore women's learning preferences, motivations, and pain points related to Web3. The survey aimed to understand how women prefer to learn, their reasons for wanting or not wanting to be involved in Web3, and their personal perceptions of the current Web3 landscape. The survey had 38 respondents in total.

Survey questions

Interviews

From the survey, seven participants were recruited for a 20-minute qualitative interview to gather more in-depth feedback. An empathy map was then created based on these interview findings. 

Empathy map from user interviews. Four key areas: Say, Feel, Think, and Do. On the right side of the image there is a bullet point list of Pains and Gains from the interviews.

Empathy map

User Research Takeaways

​Survey

  • Majority of survey respondents had little to no knowledge about Web3, but 66% were curious to learn more. 

  • Blockchain, Metaverse, NFTs, and crypto were the top areas that respondents wanted to know more about. 

  • Over 50% like learning in teams, and preferred methods were Youtube/podcasts, books, apps, and games. 

  • The top categories of choice were card games, board games, and party games.

Interviews

  • Technical language was too complex and difficult to understand.

  • They lacked understanding of real-world applications of Web3.

  • Respondents were unsure who to trust and where to find reliable sources about Web3.

  • Interviewees often doubted their knowledge about Web3 and expressed fear of "messing up" if they tried to get more involved.

  • There was a desire to understand the actual technology behind Web3 to discuss its impact on society.

Overall, the survey and interview findings suggest that the social stigma attached to Web3 is preventing new user acquisition, and a lack of understanding of the relevance and real-world use cases is holding women back from learning about Web3.

Ideation

Both throughout and during user research, sketching different concepts was vital in order to stay agile. After the survey and interviews, it became evident that a physical game could offer an engaging and exciting way to learn about Web3 through tangible elements and group learning.

January: during this month, the main goal was to do market research and come up with new game concepts for a Web3 education game.

February: after user research, the ideation process narrowed to focus on a tabletop game that teaches players about blockchain technology in a low-pressure environment.

Prototyping

Prototyping

March: throughout this month, the goal was to finalize one concept, start prototyping it, and test three iterations of it called V.1, V.2, and V.3.

V.1

Five learning modules contain concepts, terminology, and real-world examples of Blockchain and how it aims to help with Web3 adaptation. Players access the learning modules by scanning the NFC tags on the learning blocks. Once the modules are completed, players pick a "Bias Card" or an "Imagine Card," which are conversation starter cards to spark discussions and critical thinking about Web3. Each player has one "Hold Up" token to pause the game at any time if there is any confusion about the learning material.

Concepts covered in the learning modules

  • Learning module 1: Decentralization

  • Learning module 2: Consensus Mechanism

  • Learning module 3: Smart Contracts

  • Learning module 4: Distributed Ledger

  • Learning module 5: Real-world Examples

Playtesting findings:

  • NFC tags are not accurate enough and cause friction points in the UX - use a QR code instead.

  • Dice and consensus mechanism could have worked better - strange to use dice for voting. It should be used for randomization instead.

  • Instructions and game setup cards worked very well.

  • “Hold up” tokens did not work. Could be specific tokens for each block with a QR code that contains more elaborate information.

  • Bias cards were sometimes overly challenging - not enough background knowledge.

  • Imagine cards were engaging and fun.

  • It needs to be replayable - improve engagement loop so that players would want to play it again.

A collage of images of V.1. The top part of the image contains the V.1 board design and question cards placed on the right. There are four question cards. At the bottom of the image there are three images from the playtesting sessions.
Testing

V.2

With user feedback from playtesting, V.2 of Web3 Wonders focused on improving the narrative for the learning modules to make it more engaging for listeners and players. NFC tags were changed to QR codes due to poor user experience caused by the proximity of the learning blocks on the board triggering tags at once. The most significant change from V.1 to V.2 was developing new functionality to make the game replayable after playtesters mentioned that it felt like a one-time play. The new functionality includes a set of "knowledge cards" that tests players' knowledge and a dice that determines the points earned for the cards, leading to different categories of "conversation cards" with related questions. The "Imagine Cards" from V.1 were kept and stacked with the "Conversation Cards" to break up the conversation and spark good debates during playtesting.

V.2 was tested on March 24th at the midterm thesis showcase, and below is the feedback:

  • Question cards needed better differentiation, such as changing the colors on the front.

  • The aesthetics of the learning blocks should have a more similar look to the board to ensure consistency.

  • The knowledge cards were piled in one deck, which made it confusing to know when to answer the questions.

  • Place the cards below each learning block to clarify which questions belong to each module.

Images from V.2 prototyping and testing. Similar to V.1, at the top there is the rectangular board and on the right, there are four cards with a different design from V.1. At the bottom, there are three images of prototype V.2, feedback from the March 24th showcase, as well as one image of Sigrid standing in front of her project at the showcase.

V.3

Based on the V.2 feedback, the changes made for the final version of this prototype were:

  • Changed the color of the "Conversation" and "Imagine" cards to differentiate them from the "Knowledge" cards.

  • Painted learning blocks white to fit the board aesthetics better.

  • Designed placeholders for knowledge cards below each learning block.

Image of the final prototype V3. Board is layed out with the five white learning blocks. Below the blocks are the knowledge cards and the conversations cards. Behind the board is the game box designed in the similar pink and purple gradient with a large title Web3 Wonders written and centered in the middle of it.
Sigrid standing at the thesis showcase. She is holding the instructions to the game in her hands, and next to her is a large poster with information about her research. In front of her is a table with a laptop set up to showcase the Web3 Wonders project as well as the game is set up in order for visitors of the showcase to demo and play the game.

Assessment

  • Test subjects filled out a survey to report their experience, value, and areas for future product improvements. Audience feedback was a good indication of the game's performance.

  • Observing the initial game set-up was another way of analyzing the performance of the prototypes. Users could set up the board game with little to no interference from the moderator, which was an indicator of success.

Reflections

  • Playtesting feedback indicated that the game created meaningful play, encouraging critical thinking, group learning, and knowledge sharing.

  • Centering the voices of different users is important in co-creating a more equitable and inclusive iteration of the internet.

  • The iterative process of prototyping was rewarding and emphasized the value of physical prototyping and creating artifacts as soon as possible.

  • Well-organized project and time management tools are crucial for individual thesis research, building a creative solution, and writing a thesis paper.

  • More user testing and interviews with user groups most targeted by intersectional and structural inequality, such as women of color, low-income communities, and women with disabilities, could have been done.

  • Several accessibility considerations were not implemented due to production constraints, such as adding raised dots and braille to the board.

  • The final output and MVP of Web3 Wonders are satisfactory, and the project could be scaled to a collection of Web3 games with expansion packs and a children's version.

  • There are still many essential conversations to have about gender representation, inclusion, and equity in the context of Web3.

  • Role models and representation are essential to making Web3 an inviting space for women, but digital literacy and understanding what Web3 is trying to do are vital before that is possible.

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