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Tattle Tales

A System Design Project in Play Therapy


This project was undertaken at the National Institute of Design as a System Design project. The research part is done by a group of designers, whereas the opportunity mapping and the product design are done by me.
The aim of the system design project was to bridge an existing gap using a playful intervention. Tattle tales is a story-building game that will help the doctors identify problems the child is facing. This tool can be used by parents also!
Key focus areas:
Emotional Intelligence, Mental Health, and Play Therapy

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Study a system and its stakeholders to introduce a playful intervention that satisfies an opportunity area. The chosen system was Emotional Stress in the Indian Education system. Primary stakeholders are the students, parents, teachers and the education system.




Emotional Stress




  • Personal interviews

  • Understanding:

    • Stress

    • Play

    • Indian Education system

  • Combining all the raw information into a analysable map

  • Creating categories of similar information to draw insights and opportunity areas

  • Listing down a plethora of opportunity areas and getting feedback from the organisation.

  • Creating viable ideas

  • Detailing the game

  • Making rapid prototypes

  • Testing the game-play

  • Creating presentable product for use

  • Implementation plan

Research: Understanding the stakeholders

System Mapping: User Insights

Opportunities and Ideas

Final Product and fine tuning



Taking personal interviews and analyzing the qualitative data was done in this phase. We tried covering different types of experiences through our questionnaire which in an ethnographic manner

In the photos:

  • Dr. Ali Khwaja (Banjara Academy)

  • GIPS Hospital and De-addiction Centre

  • Teachers of VVS Gandhi Centenary English Primary School, Bengaluru

  • Students at the Ranker's Academy


Child Psychologists


students of different age groups and backgrounds





School teachers

Tuition teachers

parents of various

socio-economic background


We collaborated with GIPS, Hospital for insights and final delivery

GIPS is a psychiatric hospital and handles multiple other functions such as outreach programs, training professionals, school programs, etc. All the doctors are renowned and we got a chance to work with Dr. Punita Grover as our main client. She is a child specialist and gave us examples of various play therapies she uses along with other valuable insights

Play Therapy!

The systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development

Common Techniques used by Therapists

  • non-directive play therapy

  • puppets/dollhouse/other toys for the purpose of pretend play

  • interpret play for emotional content

  • directive play therapy

  • interpret drawings for emotional content

  • drawing/painting for the purpose of emotional expression



Metaphors and storytelling

Creative art, Imagery, fantasy and Toy and Object Play



Key Stake holders: 

1. Students of different age groups and socio economic strata

2. Parents

3. Teachers

4. Organization and Doctors

Different User personas were made and studied

Click on the areas to explore the Map and read details

System Map




Opportunity 1: Playful awareness of how depression kicks in as stress at an early age can be dangerous if not heeded 


Idea 1: Emotional Tamagotchi​

A virtual pet game where the students have to manage the stress levels of the pet. They have to take the right actions to not burn out it. 

They will learn techniques and good actions to avoid a situation in their real life


Idea 2: Doctor's Kit for Emotional Health

A role-playing game that also introduces emotional health as important as physical health. The introduction of mindfulness and journaling can help children identify with these terms easily

AGE: 3-7

Opportunity 2: A playful intervention to improve the effectiveness of the counseling experience. 


Idea 1: GIPS Hospital patient file

Making the patient file a bit more interesting by giving few columns for patients to fill. This file shall accompany a role-playing game where the patient gets rewarded for role-playing an unpleasant situation.

Idea 2: A Story building Game

The game shall have Draw and Discard mechanism and will be played with either doctor or the parent. The doctor can draw references from the story they narrate.



Final Product

Prototype and Mechanic Research

Theme and the Narrative of the game


Playtest and feedback

  • Already existing story building games

  • Story Slam and Once upon a time

  • Other methods of Play therapy related to story building

  • Based on the daily lives of the age group

  • Changing content of the cards can lead to different variations.

  • One more variation is based on journey of a hero. To make the children feel like a hero on overcoming their problems

  • Feedback from the Doctors

  • Playtest for testing out the fun element of the game

  • Aesthetics that children will like

  • Aesthetics that will suit the theme of the game. 

  • The second game has a hero centric approach hence the theme is chosen as a fantasy adventure


Providing patients with a tangible experience 


Doctor's are familiar with story telling and roleplaying as a tool to counsel children


Ice-breaking activities usually take a lot of time. They help in building trust.


Interested in investing in a tool which can be made/used in-house



Click play to know more!

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  • Turn-based two-player game

  • Start building up the story using the story cards

  • Use character cards like the witch, teacher, etc. to support your story. Character cards are to be not discarded

  • If you fail to continue the story then take a card from the pile

  • Use Questions to interrupt the opponents

  • The player discarding all the cards first wins the game!


Narrate an instance

Discard the story card

Opponent continues the story

Interrupt opponent with a power card

Answer continuing the story

If fail, draw a card from the pile

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