App Update: Emotion and Coping Game 2.0
After my initial release of the Emotion and Coping Game app, I began working hard to implement some more features that felt much-needed. Now, after a lot of hard work, those core features have been added to the game! While there are still some more planned features, this version of the game feels much more complete and like what I originally had in mind for the game. Here, I want to highlight some of the improvements that have been made and help to explain my decision making for the changes.
Likely the first thing you'll notice is the addition of more faces. Each one has been designed to represent an emotion in several ways. Depending on a person's cultural background, different aspects of the face standout more when reading emotions. For example, some people focus on the eyes while others focus on the mouth. Each face has a variation of both to make sure the emotion represented is clear, and additional features have been added if helpful (e.g., a tear for sad, flushed cheeks for mad).
The faces have also been designed to be diverse in appearance. There are various stigmas related to emotion expression in different cultural/ethnic/racial groups. But the emotions people experience are more universal, particularly in regards to the "core" emotions. To help address some of this stigma, the faces were designed to equally represent boys and girls, and to represent a variety of ethnicities/races.
The Start Screen
To help make the app even more friendly for use with kids, the gameplay suggestions have been moved to the navigation drawer. That means starting the game is as simple as opening the app and pressing the only big button on the screen. Simple and straightforward, and the suggestions are still easily available.
The faces have also been added to the emotion and coping cards themselves. That makes it easier to play the game with younger children (less of a reading demand). It can also help to reinforce what an emotion looks like. Sometimes children are able to better identify emotions if they think about how their bodies react, and facial expressions are one of the easier visual cues to think about.
(I'm hoping to eventually include a way to discuss how other parts of the body feel [e.g., sweaty palms, shaky legs], but that will take longer to implement).
When talking about emotions with kids, it can be difficult to think of how best to discuss them. In this version I added some wording that may be helpful for parents. The text was made a little larger than in other parts of the app to help kids read it on their own if they are able to do so. The wording will be improved over time, but it's a starting place if you feel unsure of how to discuss the emotions on your own.
Again, the faces are shown so the text can reference some of the visual cues directly (e.g., smiling, crying). The more visual things can be, the easier it can be for many kids to learn (particularly at a young age). More visuals will be added over time (e.g., for the coping skills), but this is a big start.
The game is meant to be flexible to however you want to play it. At the same time, it needs to be relevant so kids will continue to want to play the game. The settings screen allows for tweaking some of the gameplay (e.g., disabling skipping of cards if a child is skipping too often).
It also allows you to select which of the included coping skills will show up during play. Working with a child who doesn't like to dance? Just disable that as one of the skills! As long as you have at least one skill enabled, you can use coping cards. Want to just focus on the emotions? You can disable the coping cards altogether!
(Later I want to add the ability to add your own custom skills. That currently is not implemented, but is definitely planned. There are also some other customization options I'd like to implement so a kid can make the app feel like their own.)
The Physical Version
Now that the app has hit the 2.0 milestone, I plan to update the PDF version of the game to utilize some of the extra resources (e.g., the faces, explanations of the emotions, a more comprehensive list of coping skills). That will be added to the site once it's ready, and anybody who purchased version 1.0 will be provided with a free copy of the upgraded version.
This is a project I've had a lot of fun working on, and I look forward to continuing to add features here and there as I'm able. The development will likely slow down a bit because the remaining features I plan to add will likely take longer to code.
But again, this app is intended to be helpful and fun for all of you. If you run into any bugs, and/or if you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments! I will try to work quickly to fix bugs and to implement suggestions that are relatively straight-forward.
For those who don't have the app yet, you can download it here (still Android only for now): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ddecator.emotionandcopinggame