a mAKEY MAKEY aFRICAN CULTURAL rhythms EXPLORATION GAME
Tama Tama, carried out in Processing and implemented in Makey Makey is a drum game that is designed for young children between 5-9 that creates an educational cultural music immersive experience. The game allows for kids to find and build their own tangible drum sets using Makey Makey and play and explore different rhythms and sounds of African and South Asian drums.
To expose children with cultural and musical knowledge and stimulate their interests in learning and exploring about drums and rhythms through a playful experience.
All three of our group members have experiences learning instruments growing up and two of us did it through very rigid methods that strip away the fun elements of music. We became very interested in making learning music "fun".
The current space for popular music games like Guitar Heroes or Rock Band, though stimulating and entertaining, does not embody an educational aspect catering to Children. It thus becomes our goal also to teach kids about the cultural context within which different music lies in.
The game adopted both of the two approaches within informal learning for children(Green, 2005). One involves “learning music aurally” with loose limitation and improvisation and the other one takes place in group level that involves “unconscious learning through peer-observation, limitation and talk.”
Essentially we are trying to bridge the gap between the informal learning that can only happen by chance to formal learning that is taking place in the classroom.
Throughout the course of constructing our learning materials, we borrowed a Tech student and an expert dummer, Taylor Kuler who has years of experiences teaching kids how to play drum. His provided us with great insights that helped us greatly with various elements of the design of the game, including how to encourage participation and reinforce learning.
Why Makey Makey?
Makey Makey, a programmable external device that can easily connect to other conductible materials to allow for a flexible and tangible input, is known for its low barriers to get started in the makers community. In our case, it is also encouraging for children to assemble their own "drum kits" working with conductible fruits like bananas or oranges.
After getting feedbacks and further considerations, we decided not to go with the design as we want the players to focus on the actual rhythms of the drumming instead of artificial gaming interface.
We broke the rhythms into chucks and edited the rhythms into three levels-slow, medium and fast. A short clip of movie will be flowed to play, showing the actual cultural environment of how the drums are played.
The game will automatically play a rhythm, starting from slow and players can take their time catching up and getting familiar with the rhythms before playing along with it. It is not until they reach a level of certain accuracy rates (Hitting 80% of the notes accurate within a margin) are they able to proceed to the next level with fast speed and same rhythms. A text “faster” will show up on the screen indicating players are entering a faster mode.
As players advance, they are able to unlock more instruments and play more rhythms while informal learning takes place.