Targeted game incentives for a mobile application.

Aiming to increase frequency of gameplay through a customized experience.


Savages is a scavenger hunt game for a mobile application. I took the liberty to innovate a new concept to an existing idea by providing players with the opportunity to craft their own customizable game, manage incentives and control their overall experience.

Savages onboarding screen.

Role: Research/Content Strategy/Product Design

Sector: Education, Entertainment

Client: Freelance Contract Project

Project Title: Savages: A Scavenger Hunt Game

Project Duration: 8 Months

Tools: Figma, Adobe Suite, Optimal Sort, Google Surveys

Audience: Game Enthusiasts, App Discoverers

Constraints: Budget, Timeline

Goal: Allow players to play with who they want, when they want, where they want, how they want and for what they want.


Market & User Research

With little prior knowledge of mobile scavenger hunt games and no experience playing with one on a digital platform I immersed myself into testing several of the leading competitors as a player.
To help become more familiar with the industry I created competitor profiles to assess business models, market strategy, target audience, functionality, compatibility along with a SWOT analysis to assess the strengths and weakness of key competitors to become even more acquainted.

Opportunities & Obstacles

As I examined the research I uncovered some possible opportunities and potential obstacles to explore with mobile scavenger hunt games.

Possible Opportunities

Opportunity #1

People to play with

Giving people an opportunity to connect and interact both digitally and physically simultaneously.

Opportunity #2

Landmarks & locations

Landmarks and locations could easily be controlled by determining and defining a specific location to travel to.

Opportunity #3

Exploring & discovering

Games could be a useful way to become familiar with a new area or learn something new about a familiar area.

Opportunity #4

Objects to find

Almost anything could be used to describe and find.

Opportunity #5

Questions, hints & clues

Strategies for structuring and disseminating content is limitless.

Opportunity #6


Use prizes to incentivize people to play.

Opportunity #7

recyclable content

Easily reuse images, questions, hints, clues etc.

Opportunity #8

enhance the experience

Games could be customized to enhance the overall experience for players.

Potential Obstacles

Obstacle #1


Potential accessibility issues could limit participation for some people.

Obstacle #2

personality clashes

Personality differences could prevent or hinder participation.

Obstacle #3


Having to organize a game and coordinate schedules could keep people from even attempting to participate.

Obstacle #4

time constraints

Games can be lengthy. Game operator's and their hours of operation might not fit into most people's schedules.

Obstacle #5

value proposition

The value of the experience might not meet expectations or may be perceived as less valuable than a differing experience and dismissed.

Obstacle #6

geographical limitations

People living in areas with different timezones could prevent participation.

Interviews & Surveys

Taking the opportunities and obstacles uncovered with market research I transitioned into user research to better comprehend the experiences people had with scavenger hunt games. Using the data collected from competitor profiles I conducted interviews and surveys to gain a deeper understanding into the exact experience people actually had when playing scavenger hunt games.

This would help my attempt to eliminate any frustrations and/or limitations they may have had. Six individuals, all with differing scavenger hunt game experiences, were interviewed. Surveys were disseminated online to 26 other individuals using Google Survey.

Interview & Survey Objectives

•Who played scavenger hunt games?

•What prompted people to participate in scavenger hunt games?

•How often did people participate in scavenger hunt games?

•How were people discovering scavenger hunt games?

•What was the method used to participate? i.e. mobile application, pen & paper

•How likely were people to organize a game for others to play?

•What did people enjoy or not enjoy about scavenger hunt games?

•What, if anything, would enhance their experience?

•What kept people from participating in scavenger hunt games more frequently?

•What, if anything, would motivate people to participate more often?

•Was there a previous experience more memorable than others and what made it so memorable?

These questions plus several more were used as a catalyst for further discussion during interviews. It helped cultivate an organic conversation revealing some interesting insights from players.

Interview & Survey Insights

Insight #1

game coordination

People didn't want to put in a lot of effort scheduling and organizing a game. Coordinating schedules to play a game seemed daunting.

Insight #2

game length

How long a game would last impacted people's decision to participate or not.

Insight #3


The amount of traveling required for some negatively impacted their experience.

Insight #4

Proper attire

Knowing the proper attire to comfortably participate would have a positive impact.

Insight #5

Unfamiliar participants

Who people played with mattered. Being unfamiliar with other participants hindered participation.

Insight #6

unclear expectations

Most people understood the instructions, but difficulty following the rules.

Insight #7

incentives to play

People found the time spent with friends and family the greatest incentive to play. However, most were open to include other incentives such as a prize.

Insight #8

participation limitation

In past experiences players were limited in their participation due to physical and geographical demands put on them to play.

Spontaneous Concepts

An impactful insight came spontaneously during one interview. When discussing incentives to play the option for a monetary prize took an unexpected turn when an interviewee made an interesting statement. They said:

"I would rather raise money and play for a charity."

This sparked several ideas to give players an option to raise money and awareness for a charity of their choice. I made a note to come back to this idea later for further consideration.

Distilling Insights with Affinity Mapping

After examining the insights collected from interviews and surveys I created an affinity map to detect patterns in order to categorize problems and pain points players experienced with scavenger hunt games.

Problems Discovered

Filtering the information collected through an affinity map revealed three distinct problems players had in common connected to what they valued. Players valued their time, the people they played with and a prize. Here are the problems players had with most scavenger hunt games:

Problem: Time

•Games are too long

•Difficult to coordinate schedules
•Time spent traveling when playing

Problem: Prizes

•None offered


•Marketing gimmick

Problem: People

•Proximity to preferred participants

•Activities physically demanding
•Playing with strangers

Setting the Goal

With correlations clarified and problems pinpointed I set a goal in the form of a question so that I could begin ideating and developing solutions for the problems discovered. The goal was this:

How can people play with who they want, when they want, where they want, how they want and for what they want?

Having a better understanding of the problems I needed to solve, as well as making a prediction to resolve them, I developed empathy profiles to keep the needs and goals of players in front of me.


Building an Empathy Profile

Taking the qualitative and quantitative data I distinguished different groups to target and define player profiles to empathize with. I constructed empathy profiles to serve as a reminder of the motivations, frustrations and expectations players experienced. User Stories, User Personas, Task Analysis and Journey Maps were utilized to accomplish this.

User Stories

User Stories were written to identify the players who would be using the mobile scavenger hunt game along with connecting business objectives held by stakeholders to the product. The statement below would guide design decisions throughout the iteration process toward the needs and goals of players.

"As someone who tends to be the one who plans different events and experiences I want something easy, intuitive and fun so that I can entertain family and friends."

User Personas

To better understand the players using the product user personas were crafted to better visualize, empathize as well as serve as a reminder to prioritize the motivations, expectations and frustrations of the players when designating design decisions. Meet the players:

Task Analysis

Performing a task analysis was instrumental in identifying different thought processes used to accomplish assorted tasks.

Task analysis evaluation.

Journey Maps

I highlighted different phases in how players would be able to discover the product by developing a journey map.

Customer journey map.

Up to this point I have created competitor profiles, completed SWOT analysis, discussed possible opportunities, potential obstacles and excavated problems in conjunction with crafting and conducting interviews and surveys. This led to building empathy profiles with user stories, user personas, task analysis and journey maps to identify the players who would be using the product.


Information Architecture

The research, problems discovered, goal and empathy profiles were systematically arranged to inform, iterate and designate design solutions as well as to initiate the structure and flow of the sitemap for the mobile application.

Iterating Solutions

I targeted problems players experienced when playing and aimed to turn them into incentives to play. Wireframes and rapid prototyping were used to generate early feedback.

Wireframes & Rapid Prototyping

To help contain and conceptualize the ideas visually, paper wireframes were created as a means for rapid prototyping to generate feedback. I used them to conduct early user testing so that I could make necessary adjustments to the structure of the sitemap which saved me valuable time and potential costly digital implementation.

Card Sorting & Sitemap

OptimalSort was used to generate feedback from participants through a card sorting exercise. This participatory design method allowed me to evaluate and generate ideas for the information architecture of the design to define the sitemap.

Clickable Prototype

After formulating the sitemap I produced a clickable prototype using Adobe XD to simulate the experience, unveil usability, interface issues and to further evaluate design decisions.

There were many adjustments made throughout the iteration phase of the project. Whether it was going off script during usability test, to adjusting onboarding and game features, it all helped bring rapid resolutions to misunderstandings players were experiencing based off of their feedback.

Onboarding mockups for Savages Mobile Application.

The entire User Interface for the Savages mobile application is currently being revised. Feel free to test the old clickable prototype below.


Visual Design

As I finalized and designated design decisions I began to focus more on the visual details. The interface of the design is critically important to the design as a whole. It also displays to clients, stakeholders and/or team members the evolution of the design exuding certainty and a clear depiction of the final product.

Style Guides

To keep the branding and communication consistent I created a style guide to define the look, feel and tone of the content. The style guide would help organize the design deliverables for a smooth handoff to developers.

Style guide for Savages mobile scavenger hunt game application.
Style guide for Savages mobile scavenger hunt game application.
Style guide for Savages mobile scavenger hunt game application.
Style guide for Savages mobile scavenger hunt game application.
Style guide for Savages mobile scavenger hunt game application.
Style guide for Savages mobile scavenger hunt game application.
Style guide for Savages mobile scavenger hunt game application.
Style guide for Savages mobile scavenger hunt game application.
Style guide for Savages mobile scavenger hunt game application.
Style guide for Savages mobile scavenger hunt game application.

Usability Testing

A series of usability tests were conducted with the paper and clickable prototypes. I moderated them both, in-person and remotely, to evaluate the design. Jakob Nielsen’s error severity rating scale was used to either validate or eliminate usability issues. Feel free to view the test plan, test participants along with the results and adjustments made to the design.

Moderated In-person Usability testing equipment and setup.

A/B & Preference Testing

I wanted to quantitatively review the usability assumptions with A/B and preference tests. I tested the navigation structure, game set up and game play on mobile. Preference testing mainly targeted the visual aspects of the design. Testing was conducted on  There was a total of 7 different tests given with 98 responses collected and 21 test participants.

Testing continued to reveal usability issues to iterate and improve upon. This process was repeated several times in order to designate and implement final design decisions.



The challenge of attempting to increase the frequency of player participation was accomplished by exploring a possible opportunity identified early in the design process. By focusing on the needs and goals of the players it drastically expanded the experience for players as well as their frequent participation.

Participants preferred the Savages Mobile Application 3-to-1 over other competitor's scavenger hunt games due to gameplay customization.

Learnings & Future Considerations

Overall this project provided an incredible learning experience. It challenged and strengthened how I ideate and innovate design solutions to solve real problems users were experiencing.  It also broadened my perspective to view any and every obstacle exposed as an opportunity to explore along the way.

Documenting the design process better.

One crucial change I have begun working on for the future is enhancing the documentation process. Developing a better system for review and reflection throughout each phase of the project will help empathize with users, inform ideas and solidify solutions.

Research. Research. Research.

Time was of the essence, however, if I had more time I would explore a broader range of games hosted on mobile platforms. I limited my research to just one category i.e. scavenger hunts. Examining other categories may have opened up different realms of possibilities.

Saturate ideas with research and allow them to percolate.

Many ideas surfaced from discoveries in the research. Once ideas were separated according to the goals and needs of users to develop I felt time constraints hindered the development of those ideas.

Space out interviews.

Interviews were scheduled one on top of the other. Although I gave ample time to interviewees I failed to give myself ample time to reset and replay the conversation before the next interview.

Better UI.

I am currently in the process of reevaluating the user interface for this particular project. Making adjustments to the aesthetics will have significant impact on the visual experience for users therefore enhancing the overall experience.

View More Work

Optimized website to acquire digital estimates.

Redesigned a website guided by heuristic evaluations, user research, user testing and business objectives.

view case study

Founded a new non-profit and developed the Brand and CX strategy.

Attempting to establish an identity for a new non-profit.

coming soon