When Nike approached you with the idea to build a game for families, what was the inspiration behind the idea?
The inspiration behind the Nike app came from an insight outlining the relationship between children, their parents, and exercise. The insight found that parents are key role models when it comes to inspiring exercise behaviour in their children. Parental behaviour goes a long way towards fostering healthy habits in their children, which in turn fosters healthy minds, resulting in greater retention and success in education. It was with this insight that we designed the Nike Train and Play app, with the goal of helping children stay active through play and add exercise to their daily routine.
Studies have found that over the past decade, the cardiovascular health of children around the world has declined by at least 5 per cent. Today, children are roughly 15 per cent less fit than their parents were when they were the same age. Furthermore, children today now run a mile one-and-a-half minutes slower than their counterparts 30 years ago.
With this in mind, we designed the DIGITAL TRAINER with a central concept of: YOU DO IT. Through clever technology and animation, we created a digital trainer that introduces new layers to simple exercises. Nike Train and Play added coaching, gamification, sharability, and Nike-swag to exercise, and bought an element of fun and familiarity to the digital generation. The app allows for new and unique moments between parents and children that revolves around staying active.
Nike Train and Play uses a design style inspired by vintage games, instead of leaning into contemporary game design. What was your inspiration for the theme and design of the game?
Instead of using contemporary game design styles, we looked to the past. Dragonball Z was a key reference point for us, due to the number and quality of the animations. There was so much happening all the time, and when we explored styles for Train and Play, DBZ was a key reference point for us moving forward.
We also needed to ensure that the finished product would work for the target users of the app: children and parents. With this in mind, we tested multiple iterations of the animations with a select group and asked for their feedback to ensure continual improvements and refinement. After a few iterations and test runs, we found the right balance of the animations and stickers, based on their overall ‘impact’ on the target market.
How do you see the future of technology transforming health and exercise in the coming years? What do you think the impacts will be?
Studies have shown that if you were fit as a child, then you are more likely to be fit and healthy as an adult. Alongside this is an unfortunate socio-economic fact where countries with a widening gap between rich and poor citizens tend to have a growing population living on or below the poverty line. People living at the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum also tend to have poorer health levels, as found on considerable.com.
Technology can definitely help with exercise in the coming years. “Games” like Nike Train and Play need to be continuously developed and made easily and readily accessible to anyone, ensuring that no matter their socio-economic level, they have an opportunity to remain fit and healthy either alone or with friends and family. There is so much more we can do to make kids move and have fun through exercise, and it is a doubly attractive proposition if we can also foster stronger relationships within families. It’s a pure-play win/win situation.
A statement from your project site says “Designing a look and feel inspired by vintage graphics but with a modern twist. A library of interactive animated elements. An engaging fusion of elements for both generations.” What elements did you use intentionally that would work well for these groups?
We started looking into older games and series that had lots of animations in them, among them was Dragonball Z, as mentioned previously. We were looking for animations that had a “natural energy” in them since the audience (children) needed to be inspired and amazed. They needed to be drawn in by a strong wow factor that would keep them playing and engaged. We achieved this through our library of animations that became cooler and more varied with every level they progressed through.
You are our Lovie Gold Winner, what an accomplishment! What does having a Lovie Award mean to you?
It’s great to receive an award that is recognised by the wider design community! For us, it is a massive accomplishment for the teams involved in the project; our team receives all the credit for making this awesome work.