Mad Libs is a phrasal template word game where one player prompts others for a list of words to substitute for blanks in a story before reading the – often comical or nonsensical – story aloud. The game was invented in the U.S., and more than 110 million copies of Mad Libs books have been sold since the series was first published in 1958.
For this project I was tasked with leading strategy and user experience for the redesign of the Mad Libs iOS app. Our client, Penguin Random House, felt that the current app lacked the playfulness that is prevalent in the traditional format of the game. By using technology and design, I was able to transform the paper-based game into a lively native iOS app. To date, the app has over 2 million unique users.
I created all wireframes and user flows for the game as the design exploration was simultaneously taking place. Through research and multiple iterations, I was able to simplify the experience into one main user flow. I presented my ideas, wireframes, and interactions to the client on a weekly basis, and once approved, oversaw the visual design. I supported in art direction and sound design.
Our main goal was to gamify the experience, but still stay true to the paper-based version in remaining uncompetitive. By creating gesture based responses, we were able to enhance the storytelling game and make it rewarding without a point based system.
After identifying the most important characteristics of the game, we were able to find existing assets to gamify the experience. For example, the mascot Phill, who is on the cover of every book, is now incorporated as your personal cheerleader, giving you feedback as you play. Swiping Phill left or right gives you helpful hints.
We even gave Phill some personality by creating sets of animated positive reactions, neutral emotions, and festive face lifts.
Even though the game itself did not have a point system, we still wanted it to be included in the Apple Game Center. To accommodate for this, we made a series of accomplishment goals and badges.
In the end, we created a digital platform for the Mad Libs world. Hundreds of stories can now exist in one device, each one with a different theme. Along with the classic version of Mad Libs, licensed versions such as Hello Kitty, Adventure Time, and Family Guy, can also have their own proprietary app.