Mystery History – A Tablet Game for Elders and Teens


Mystery History is a visual puzzle game for elders aged 70+ and teens aged 13 – 18 played on a tablet. The game was designed within 4 days for Sheridan College’s Sprint Week in Fall 2015.

Premise: Given clues of pop culture throughout the 20th century, the players must work together to find out what their clue(s) relate to or how they are related to each other. The game encourages being social and communicating between other players through verbal brainstorming.

How to play: A timer will be running for 60 seconds, while a category and clue will appear in front of the players.Tapping the “CLUE” button will give them another clue, but they’ll lose a star in their rating. The players can have up to three clues. If the players know what the answer it they tap the “I Know It!” button, where it will reveal the answer and offer a yes or no option. The player decides if they guessed the answer correctly. If they get it right, they will earn a certain amount of stars depending on how many clues they used. Refer to the start system:

  • Correctly guessing with only one clue: = 3 stars
  • Correctly guessing with only two clues = 2 stars
  • Correctly guessing with all three clues = 1 star
  • Incorrectly guessing with any amount of clues = no stars

My Role: Level Designer, Artist and UI Designer

I designed the levels by researching and reflecting off of classic well-known entertainment even younger folks might know about. The clues were centered towards only the 20th century, and were categorized as either film, television, singer, band, etc. For the topics, I would draw out multiple symbols that aren’t so iconic, so that way it would not be too easy and allow the players to encourage discussion. For example, placing a dinosaur as a clue for Jurassic Park would be completely obvious, so I had to come up with other known clues to indicate the same film, such as Ray Arnold’s torn off arm. Furthermore, I drew the buttons and title screen in Illustrator. Using Shneiderman’s Eight Golden Rules of Interaction Design, I carefully designed visual feedback such as the star score glowing, to help indicate to the player that it is their final score. I also designed the buttons so that they are all consistent: base buttons are blue while the “Yes” or “No” buttons’ colours are reflected off of indicators we already know.; green for yes, red for no. I decided to give the game a silhouette of a detective, giving the sense that the player will act like one when playing the game.

Aside from the creation of the game, the hardest part was figuring out the name of the game , so I brainstormed a long list of possible puns and rhymes so it can be memorable. Some of the runner ups were “Mystery History”, “Memory Discectomy” and “Holla Nostalgia”. The group agreed on naming it Mystery History but also mergining it into one word. I then created a “H” and “M” letter hybrid, so that the title looks like it can be cleverly read as Mystery or History in just one word.