The No Smoking Day game

As the digital lead for No Smoking Day 2013, I got to commis­sion some­thing I have never commis­sioned before — an online game.

No Smoking Day is a tricky prospect. It does­n’t have the free­dom of other no smoking campaigns to berate and bully smokers into becom­ing non-smokers — quite the oppos­ite. The mandate of No Smoking Day is to support smokers to quit — if and when they want to. So our online game had to be non-judgemental and non-scary, but still effective.

The results speak for them­selves — we had 30,000 plays in two weeks.

The design process

I wanted the mech­an­ism to be simple and intu­it­ive. When the initial designs came back they involved intro and outro screens, multiple clicks to get where you wanted to be, in other words, distractions.

I did away with as much of that as possible. Keeping it clean, simple, and easy to use were the top priorities.

We had a very tight budget, and had to use the creat­ive assets that had already been produced — we could­n’t afford to make any more.

I crowd­sourced what people would want to spend their money on if they had any to spare, divid­ing them into four categor­ies: tech­no­logy, luxur­ies, holi­days, and tick­eted items and made them into the under­ly­ing data­base for the game.

We also wanted play­ers to be able to grasp the amount of money they would save, so decid­ing the time scales for the game was import­ant — the amount you might save in a day may not feel worth it, over 5 years may seem like an unat­tain­able goal. So we display a range of options — from the small but achiev­able ‘what would happen if I gave up smoking for a week’ to the major accom­plish­ment — and poten­tial major savings of a whole year without smoking.

The other consid­er­a­tions were mostly tech­nical — it had to work on all devices, of all sizes. And Absolutely No Flash. Our design­ers were stars at getting in all the neces­sary tweaks for the smal­lest screens and incon­veni­ent interfaces.

What I learned

I learned that commu­nic­at­ing what you want from a game mech­an­ism — even one as simple as this — is a challenge.

We needed a certain level of random­isa­tion to make the game inter­est­ing, and this took a while to achieve. We also wanted people to share their results, and figur­ing out the timing for when certain options display on screen took a fair amount of time.

I think next time, I’ll ask for more face to face meet­ings. There’s only so far you can go with static mockups and tele­phone calls!

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Corinne Pritchard

Information Designer at Simply Understand
I believe design and design­ers can and should make the world a better place. I love design­ing things that help people under­stand complex ideas.

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2 thoughts on “The No Smoking Day game

  1. Hi Corinne

    The video or the game seems to be miss­ing. My browser says: 

    Not Found The reques­ted URL / was not found on this server. Apache/2.2.3 (Red Hat) Server at Port 80’. 

    Pity as it seems a good idea.

    1. It seems like the British Heart Foundation have with­drawn the game / are no longer using it. As I don’t work for them any more I have no control over it I’m afraid.

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