These rhythm and dance games were originally developed in Transdisciplinary Media Design Practicum, a course which took place at the University of Southern California in Fall 2017 on the topics of “Interactivity, Play, Choreography & Neuroplasticity.” The class was a collaboration between the School of Cinematic Arts (taught by Professor Marientina Gotsis) and the Glorya Kaufman School of Dance (taught by Professor Thomas McManus), with students from multiple schools. The goal of the class was to explore and develop interactive interventions (such as digital or non-digital games) for a K-12 setting based on William Forsythe’s ‘Red Yellow Blue Green’ (RYBG) movement/vocal system, which could particularly benefit children and adolescents with developmental disorders as well as a general student population.
The interactive interventions developed in this course were transdisciplinary in nature and was informed by multiple areas of study. To this end, a number of guest lecturers shared their perspectives with students during development. The range of backgrounds of the guests helped instruct our approaches to the use of dance and play to engage cognitive functions. The final results of these workshops and efforts were interactive variations on RYBG which are intended to stimulate the participant physically and neurologically.
Jeff Watson (Interactive Media and Games @ USC School of Cinematic Arts), whose area of expertise is game design and interactive play, highlighted the importance of the end user experience. When designing a game, it is important to consider not just the actual play or interaction that will happen, but what experience you desire the player to have. In the case of our own games, in addition to constructing an experience that requires the player to think abstractly and engage executive function, we aimed to design for joy and fun. Also worth considering is that people derive joy from making a narrative or experience their own (conferring a sense of ownership), thus, adding the ability to customize or improvise within the variations will also, hopefully, enhance the experience.
Motion and movement were critical aspects of our instructional process. Guest Dawn Stoppiello (USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance), workshopped the Alexander Technique with the class, aligning our bodies and thoughts with our bodies’ needs. Attention to the body and its movements is intrinsically tied to dance therapy. In considering design of movement-based games, it was invaluable to think about the presence and shape of our own joints and movements, and to bring a greater awareness to the whole self. Visiting Scholar Vangelis Lympouridis gave an overview of whole body interaction technologies. Patrick Corbin (USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance) presented his own experiences working in a dance context with children with autism spectrum disorders. Bobbie Edwards infused various sessions with her perspective on working with children with developmental delays and thinking about how to measure progress, but also how to tailor programs.