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Justin Allen Burr, Fido and Me, 5/7/2012

In the beginning we were asked to come up with several ideas for possible inventions that we would be working on throughout the semester. Coming up with these ideas was a lot harder than I first thought. It took lots of thought to think of things that had not already been invented, and things that I would be interested to invent. My very first idea was a new and improved bag for chips. This bag was going to be able to be torn off at different levels so that once you ate some of the bag of chips you would not have to stick your hand so far down in the bag that your whole arm and hand gets greasy and salty. It was also going to have the ability to be sealed at these different levels so that you would never need to use a bag clip again. I thought this was such a great idea when I first thought of it but after talking about it in discussion I realized that it was really small scale and would not make a significant change in the world which is what I wanted to achieve. Another idea that I had early on was to try and find a way to keep your windshield wipers on your car from freezing in cold weather. The solution to this problem that I came up with was to find a way and heat the windshield wipers similar to how the defrosting coils on the back windows of cars work. They would be able to be turned on with a switch just like the defrosters and then ice and snow would just melt off of them instead of sticking to them. This was a little more large scale than the idea I had with the bag of chips but to me it still seemed like it would not change the lives of millions of people, so it went into the category of non- important project ideas. Some project ideas that I didn't really think through very well and crashed and burned very early on were, a pen that would never run out of ink. At first this seems like a great idea because you will never run into the problem of needing to keep two pens handy but now days it is cheaper and easier to just buy a brand new pen. The cost of this pen would have been too expensive to get people to buy it when they could just buy 10 regular pens at a cheaper cost. Another one that I really liked but did not last long was a golf ball that had a tracking device inside of it so that you would never lose your ball. This is a problem that I run into regularly when I go golfing, you see where it lands and everything but once you get up to the spot where you thought it was it is nowhere to be found. The reason this idea failed was because it would be really hard to make sure that the tracking device inside the ball was not ruined from the impact of hitting the club and the ground. It would have also been really expensive and golf balls don't last forever even if you don't lose them, so this idea bit the dust fast.

So after all my original ideas fell by the way side I found myself a little stuck, this was a very scary feeling of not knowing if I was even going to be able to think of a project the would fit the criteria that I wanted it to. After discussing many ideas within our discussion group Paul had an idea to put all the things that I liked on the board and all the project ideas that the class could think of up there to see if we couldn't find me a project idea to work on. This was a great way to let the other students within the discussion see what kind of things I was looking for so they could narrow down their ideas that they were giving me. After lots of eliminations of ideas we finally came up with a category that fit me very well and had lots of opportunity to make a change in the world. This category was dogs, I am a dog owner myself and have a special place in my heart for dogs. We wrote many categories that incorporated dogs within them and the one that stuck with me was technology and dogs. This sparked a light bulb in my head and I thought of the idea to make a dog training video game. At first there were mixed emotions within the discussion about this, how was this going to make a difference in the world, was what most people were thinking. The way that I saw it making a difference was it would be a fun way to teach people how to train dogs, so that fewer dogs would be returned to shelters because of bad behavior. After this explanation many people could see the real world applications this game would have and encouraged me to stay with this idea for my project.

My next step then was to do some research on dogs and shelters to find statistics that backed my project up. This is needed to convince people that there is a real problem with the number of dogs in shelters and show them how my video game will help reduce those numbers. The first big statistic that I found was that around 5 million dogs enter shelters every year nationwide. This was very surprising to me because I had no idea that this many dogs entered shelters. I knew that it was a large number but never would have guessed it to be 5 million. This statistic alone sums up why there needs to be something done to help reduce the number of dogs that enter shelters. Of these 5 million dogs that enter shelters around 60% of them get euthanized. This is so terrible, that around 3 million dogs a year get euthanized because of being in a shelter. The number 5 million dogs seems to be so large but when you think about the number of dog that are owned in just the U.S. alone, 78.2 million, it doesn't seem so bad. So why is there such a large number of dogs that are entering the shelters? This is the question that I had to ask myself, and the solution that I came up with was because many people that adopt dogs end up returning the dogs to the shelters. The dogs are being returned because of bad behavior and many people not understanding the responsibilities that come with owning a dog. So this is where my game Fido and Me comes into play, it will teach people vital training techniques so that they will not have the problem of an unruly dog. It will also show them the responsibilities that come with owning a dog, so that when they do get one they will be prepared and ready to handle any situation. With only a few hours of playing this game you will feel like you are an expert dog trainer and it will show in the behavior of your own dog. This will help to greatly reduce the number of dogs that get returned by their owners to shelters because of bad behavior. It will also make life for you and your dog much more enjoyable. The neat thing about this game is it will be very fun to play so that you will not feel like you are learning sitting in a boring classroom. This will make people want to learn how to train their dogs instead of feeling like it is a chore. It is games like this that make learning a fun thing that are going to be in our future.

A rundown of how the game will be played is you will first start off with choosing a breed of dog. The breeds will range from very small dogs such as Yorkshire terriers all the way up to very large breeds such as mastiffs. There will be a wide range of dog mixes or also called mutts so that you can also choose them if you are not wanting to train a pure breed dog. With the dogs that you choose they will have different attributes such as a lab will be able to swim really well, will be well tempered, will be strong and will be more easily trainable. On the other hand a Yorkshire terrier will be fearless watchdogs even with their small size, they have really good hearing, and are small so they are easy to take along with you. As you can see these two breeds are totally different from one another and so are all the other different breeds. This will be a very crucial part of the game looking through all the different breeds and picking what one will work best for you. This is just the beginning part of the game and it is already very informational with teaching people about all the different breeds available. The next step will be choosing the age at which you want your dog to be. You will be able to choose anywhere from a puppy at 3 months all the way to a full grown mature dog at 10 years old. The reason for this step is to make the game as real as possible to what you might expect to see at a shelter. Dogs act very differently at different ages, for example a puppy is so very cute and everyone thinks that they want one. But after you have a puppy you will see that they are a handful they chew lots of things up they need to be potty trained and they require lots of vaccinations which can be pricy. The nice thing about a dog that is already mature is they are not so wild and don't want to destroy everything in your house. There are downfalls to getting a mature dog though they are not as easily trainable and already have a set temperament. Some might be mean towards other dogs or even other humans which is a very hard thing to break of a mature dog. So now you can see why it is so important to incorporate different age ranges of dogs into the game. The next step will be to enter different things about your personal lifestyle into the game this will be used to see what type of home the dog will be living in. It will ask questions such as are there any other dogs that live with you, do you have a yard, how active are you, do you have children, and are there any other animals that live in the house with you. This step is also used to make the game as real as possible by trying to incorporate every possible variable that can change the behavior of the dog. Some dogs don't get along well with small kids or other dogs which will be crucial when you are making your decision on what type of dog you will be adopting. These three steps will be the baseline to the game and will take a lot of thinking about before you actually begin the game.

Now you are free to begin the game once you begin you will take your dog home just as you would if you had adopted one from the shelter. Once you get your dog home you will have to introduce him or her to their new home, this can be a hard transition for some dogs especially if they have been in the shelter for a long period of time. The game will have tips on how to make this process go as smoothly as possible and if things do get out of hand what to do about them. The game play will be raising the dog that you adopted and learning how to properly train them. There will be many different obstacles that you will face such as coming home and your dog just chewed up your couch. If this happens you will be able to go back to the scenario and learn how to fix it so that it will not happen in real life. You will advance levels when your dog learns new tricks and when they become very obedient. Without the proper training you could stay stuck at a low level with a very unruly dog. If this happens there will be tips on how to change this and make your dog behave the way that you want them to. Once you reach a certain level you will be able to choose different professions that you would like your dog to achieve. Some examples of professions might be a police dog, a hunting dog, a dog that will sit in a purse when you are shopping, a Seeing Eye dog, and a drug sniffing dog. This will be a great way to show people the amount of training that goes into these different types of helper dogs. It will also give the game players a top level that they can reach so they will strive to train their dogs the best that they can.

The game will be an interactive video game that will be played on the Wii or Xbox kinect systems. The reason for it being an interactive video game is so that you can learn the hand signals and body language that are needed when training a dog and this makes you actually learn and perfect them. The other nice thing about making it interactive is if you want to learn how to train your own dog you can. You just have to make sure that you are both in the line of view and then when you give the command if your dog performs the order than you will be able to move to the next level, if not you will have to try again until they do it. This feature will make this game similar to having a personal dog trainer come to your house and train you dog. This feature will help make the game appeal to both new dog owners and current dog owners that just want to learn a few training techniques.

I was not able to develop a prototype in the form of a video game in the time frame that we had and with the resources that I had at hand. I was able to develop a similar game that was played with cards and a 20 sided dice. This was a very simple game that started with you picking the type of dog that you wanted to play with. The four dogs that I chose for this game were lab, German Sheppard, Yorkshire terrier, and pit-bull. With the dog that you chose there were certain attributes that they had that helped you in certain areas of the game. So for instance a lab will have plus 5 to swimming and the Yorkshire terrier will have plus 5 to transportability. The game had a deck of cards that you drew from that had different commands on them, then you would roll the dice and in order for your dog to perform the task you would have to role a 15 or above. This is where the attributes of each dog came into play, for example if it was a swimming task and the lab had plus 5 to swimming if you rolled a 10 your dog would still perform the task because of the plus 5 attributes. Once the deck of card ran out the person who's dog performed the most tasks was the winner. I play tested this with my family and also with my roommates so that I could get feedback on what they thought about the idea of the game. The feedback that I got was that the card game was a little bit simple but it was fun to play. They liked the fact that the games went by quickly, and the randomness in the game so there were always new winners. They also liked how the cards had attributes of the different dogs, this they said was very educational and taught them a lot about the four breeds of dogs that I had selected. They would have liked to see more dog breeds to choose from and possibly more levels from the card game so it could be a little more complex. This really helped me to see what they liked about the idea of the game and it also showed me things that I would not have thought to change. I would have liked to play test it on people that I did not know so closely because I feel that they would have been more critical about the game and not worrying if they were hurting my feelings.

For the future I would like to see this type of game being used to help teach people how to train other pets such as cats. I would also like to see a test of some sort that is mandatory to take before you adopt a pet. The test in my mind would be similar to the test that you have to take before you get your driver's license. If you have a basic idea about how to train dogs and the responsibilities that come with owning a dog then you would pass the test with no problems. But if you have never owned a dog or really been around dogs you would have a very difficult time with it. This is where my game Fido and Me could really help it would let the people that have never had dogs gain the experience that is needed to pass the test. This would be great because then when they got their new dog they would know what to expect and would already know how to train them. This would help to lower the number of dogs in animal shelters dramatically because many of the dogs that get returned would no longer get returned. I hope that someone will be willing to help me design this video game not only for the fact that it will be really fun to play but also for the difference that it could make in many peoples and dogs lives.

Elevator Pitch

Every year in the United States there are 5 to 7 million companion animals that enter shelters. Many of these animals were returned by their owners because of bad behavior, and not knowing the responsibilities that come with owning a pet.

My name is Justin Burr and I am her to introduce to you “Fido and Me”. This is an interactive video game that targets future and current dog owners. The goal of this game is to show dog owners the responsibilities that come with owning a dog and teach them vital training techniques needed when having a dog. This will be a fun interactive video game for all ages but will double as a teaching aid for training dogs.

Unlike many other video games this game is educational to both adults and children. It will have interactions that are very similar to what you might experience with a real dog so you are prepared if you get one.

With a game like this we can make learning how to train our dogs fun and enjoyable along with reducing the number of dogs in shelters. Would you like to work with me to reduce the number of dogs in shelters by teaching people how to train dogs?

The class

Throughout the class I experienced many different feeling and emotions. In the beginning I was very confident and felt very strongly about the project ideas that I had generated. This feeling was short lived though and after all my project ideas fell through I started to get scared that I would not be able to find a project that I was passionate about. Then once I found my project I was happy that the previous ones did not work out because my new project was something that I knew I would enjoy. One of my favorite things of the class was the way that we learned how to visualize problems and work our way through them. This really helped me because I am a very visual learner and seeing a picture in my head really makes me remember a specific subject. The most stressful part of the class for me was the day we gave our elevator pitches. I don't know why I was so nervous because I had practiced my pitch so many times and really had it down. But once I got through it I felt that it would have been easy to get up and give it again to another audience. So maybe I just needed to get the jitters of presenting out. Overall I really enjoyed this course because it was so different from any other course that I had ever had before and I learned so many things that I would have never learned from any other class.