Shadow Play

Game console for elders

Shadow Play is a multi-player "game console" for elderly. It aims at adding meanings and fun to their daily life by turning their exercising activities into an interesting game.

They can invite their friends in the elderly center and even grandkids to play together, turning it into a bridge connecting generations.

One player controls the movement of the character using a slider, and another uses the wheel to control the speed. To gain high score, players need to cooperate with each other very well.

This project was developed in the class IELM4320 - Design Thinking jointly organized by HKUST and the China Academy of Art. The work is a collaboration among two HKUST and two CAA students.


In the era of rapid urbanization and social development, elderly nowadays seems less happy than their previous generations. To better understand the problem and find out the root cause, we talked with more than twenty elderlies in Hong Kong and Hangzhou and discovered that they tend to spend their time alone, especially on daytime. Their children are either busy at work, or live in a different place.


Following the Design Thinking methodology, we conducted a series of brainstorming to create as many solutions as possible that might make elderly less lonely, thus happier. After that, the combination and filtering of the ideas were done to select the final solution.


To save them out of loneliness and boredom, we finally chose the idea of transforming existing exercising facilities that they are using into an interactive game. In this way, they do not have to change their existing living style or habits, while being able to have tons of fun.


We came up with the scenario that our users, elderly, would use our product, and designed an experience that best suits their personalities and habits. This helps us to think like elderly and consider factors that they value the most. We imagined that they will be using our product in elderly center with their friends or grandchildren.


We designed the game in the Chinese "shadow play" style, which is a tradition that they are very familiar with.


The game is powered by two Arduino Nanos with a projector, and the communication between the two boards is done via Bluetooth.


We are proud of the result and invited a few elderly to the exhibition to try out our product. When we heard that they enjoyed it very much, we cannot be even happier.


We made a video to give you a better idea of this cool game (narrated by Brandon Chau).

Check out the project report.