Encouraging Visitors to Co-create the Story of Grand Park through Play

Participatory signs and decals were used to revamp the visitors interaction around Grand Park L.A.

Academic Project

Partnership with Grand Park and verynice

4 Weeks
September - November 2021

Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop

User Research, UX, UI, Prototyping

Project Challenge


Grand Park is a 12-acre park located in the civic center of Los Angeles, CA, and welcomes approximately 1 million visitors annually. How can we enhance the guest experience to encourage visitors to co-create the story of Grand Park so that they can have a slice of the park wherever they go?


LA locals are drawn to the opportunities and diversity the city has to offer. Grand Park is centered in Downtown Los Angeles but visitors primarily visit for events. Locals are looking for interesting experiences, "hidden gems", but don’t often have the time or energy to find them.


Inspired by the diverse cultures of Los Angeles, we propose facilitating moments of play and exploration around the tables, walkways and grassy areas of grand park.

Grand Park Los Angeles

Phase 1


Explore and Play

Encouraging play at Grand Park and the exploration of Los Angeles cultures.

Vianey Garcia

UX Design and Research

Rachael Legge

UX Design and Research

Competitive Analysis
Secondary Research

SME and User Interviews

Discussion with Stakeholders

"The content is L.A. content, the partners are L.A. partners, the voice and the spirit of everything we do is rooted in Los Angeles.” 

_________________________   Julia Diamond


  • Grand Park has a wide reach, multiple uses, serves various audiences and needs to be available depending on the visitor’s intentions
  • Aims to be a central community feature and gathering place
  • Wants to encourage engagement and community ownership of the park that reaches to the rest of the county

Diaris Alexander

Executive Consultant and Strategic Advisor for Grand Park

Marc Tobia

Assistant Managing Director and Design Strategist at verynice

Julia Diamond

Director of Grand Park at the Music Center

Bonnie Goodman

Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communication for the Music Center

Martha Guzman

Marketing Manager at Grand Park

Oleah Olaguera

Marketing Coordinator for Grand Park


Competitive Analysis


  • I found that visitors engage with areas that are multi-functional.
  • Attractions and facilities are important factors for drawing in visitors.
  • Repeat visitors create most of the traffic in public parks.

Secondary Research

I primarily focused on the future of parks, what brings people to parks, placemaking and public art.


  • Technology and digital spaces allow for people to take ownership of public parks. Encouraging engagement and supplementing the park’s features.
  • Access to parks is limited for some communities, especially BIPOC.  ⅓ of people don’t have access.
  • I learned that by allowing local residents to use and run programs in underutilized public spaces, gives the residents a sense of ownership within the space.


Netnography research helped us understand why Los Angeles locals, former residents and tourists love L.A.

Reddit was the most valuable resource because it gave us direct access to our users. We recruited our user interviews by direct messaging some of the respondents.


  • People appreciate the cultural diversity and availability of food, activities and interesting groups of people.
  • Locals feel acceptance and appreciate the opportunity L.A. offers.
  • People connect over iconography, sports teams and common knowledge of the area.

Who are our users?

We wanted to better understand the patterns we found in our users.

Why did they have pride in Los Angeles?
How they showed it?
What they did they do with that pride?

L.A. Fan Profiles

Types of L.A. Superfans:

  • L.A. Transplants
  • L.A. Sports Fans
  • Foodies
  • Urban Adventures
  • Tourists

Many fans were in multiple categories

Talking to Users

The L.A. locals we talked to were influenced by how they grew up and appreciated the variety of experiences the city offers. Generally for all of our interviewers the were appreciative of LA’s diversity and how much there is to do here.


  • Users are looking for unique “hidden gem” experiences that can share with others.
  • Users loved the culture & diversity that Los Angeles had to offer.
  • LA locals want a reason to explore Grand Park outside of events.
“You're going to a park to escape, right? I know that's hard in Los Angeles but that's why we have these areas, to experience space.”

Caroline, 32

L.A. Lifestyle Blogger
“The cost of living here sucks. Let me just leave it at that. But what makes it worth it is the culture and the diversity, everybody that's here”

Nhan, 28

E-Commerce Manager
"Unless you actually lived here, you can't really experience LA, for what LA is."

Frankie, 32


What we noticed


The park has a lot of visible interactive features that are underutilized by visitors.


People create their own space at the park my moving the chairs or with lawn activities.


Grand Park values the diverse makeup of Los Angeles. Celebrates diversity in many of its features.


The pink tables and chairs are a frequent touchpoint that is underutilized after the lunch rush.


Version 1: App

An app that invites users to scan any of the Grand Park totems to explore the cultures that make up L.A.

Scan to choose language

Explore the culture

Find where to play

Learn how to play

Try the XD Prototype
Designed by Rachael


A passerby that has an eye out for L.A.’s hidden gems is invited to play games and explore other cultures.

1. “If you’re bored in LA, you’re boring.  LA has so much to offer.”
2. "I would love to explore LA's diversity it's what makes us special."
3. "Oh cool, let me check this out!"
4. “I’ve always found Japanese culture so fascinating.”
5. "Great!  I can try this activity out on the first block of Grand Park?"
6. “I’m excited to explore Little Tokyo and try the food they are famous for!”
LA Play Storyboard 1
Created by Vianey


“Is the solution an app?”
Apps have a lot of upkeep. We were challenged to think about this concept in its simplest form.

“Keep the story within the park space.”
More focus on what users do in the park.

What I learned

I think version 1 focuses too heavily on how to invite users to play rather than what they are playing.  This made it difficult for us to imagine ways to get people to wander into the park.

Version 2: Table Magnets

Create moments of play on the pink metal tables with LA PLAY magnets. Games are inspired by the cultures that make up Los Angeles.


Park visitors are intrigued by table top and play a game together. They share the game on social media and discover the cultural neighborhood that inspired the game.

Stakeholder Feedback

How might we invite community partnership in game curation?

How can you co-create with those communities?
Important to co-create as to not make an assumption about the games they want to play.

Game sourcing and accessibility across languages
Can they use easy images and reduce need to read a lot of text to make it easier for audiences?

Would the magnets be in danger of being taken by a park-goer?

Are the games site specific?

Are these games intended for various ages and physical abilities?

Look Into

Cultural Centers
Local game stores
Game manufacturers

Future game nights


What Worked?

The storyboards were helpful for conceptualizing the design and understanding how to make it digestible for users to understand.  It was the fastest way for us to garner feedback from users and hear their interpretation of our prototype.
Rachael was a great teammate!  Our work styles complimented each other well in how we worked and what our strengths were.

What didn't?

The app concept that scanned the totem to search for cultural hubs didn’t work. It led people out of Grand Park instead of into it to explore. In hindsight, I would imagine that users wouldn’t engage. Our target user is on the lookout for “hidden gems” with minimal effort.

What will I do next time?

Focus more on the game content.  How will it be sourced?  What type of games? What are the best ways to encourage people to play?

User test a physical prototype with a person. Most of our storyboard feedback was written.  In person there is better opportunity for follow up questions.

LA PLAY was one of the 5 of 13 ideas chosen to move to phase 2!
Our new name is GRAND GAMES

Phase 2


Facilitate Play

Challenge Grand Park visitors to play, learn about new cultures and build a community.

Vianey Garcia

UX Design and Research


UX Researcher & Marketing Coordinator

Rachael Legge

UX Designer

Jennifer Morehead

UX Writer & Researcher

P.J. Rodriguez

UX Design and Research

Gabe Silverstein

Project Manager

SME Interviews
Competitive Analysis
Journey Map
Park Prototype

Subject matter expert interviews

"Start with the action the player needs to take, and then start with the details."

_________________________   Chris Cobb

Founder / Pres / CTO at Pragma Platform
Former engineering lead at Riot Games

“As you expose yourself to the game. You are drawn in by some sort of attractive elements, and then as you participate with those elements, it draws you further in.”

_________________________   David Javelosa

Design Technology Dept.
Game Development Program
Santa Monica College

Chris Cobb Insights

  • Complicated instructions can lose your audience. Putting a summary with visuals at the top the details.
  • Identify actors and establish emotional goals.
  • Match the activity to the environment.

David Javelosa Insights

  • An objective or point system as as a form of engagement, so players know if they win or lose.
  • Create elements that are simple and self explanatory to draw the user in.


Journey Map

We created the journey map to understand how our user would feel when interacting with the Grand Game signs.  It is also a great way to storytell and understand the users end-to-end process.

Created by Vianey and Rachael

Competitive Analysis 2


  • Planned hosted games and events help users understand the rules, guide them through the game, and further other moments of play.  Although, it is harder to spur moments of surprise.
  • Large equipment attracts users, but extended engagement needs instruction or facilitation.
  • Game opportunities in public areas contextually and socially engage the space.



Building Grand Games

Jennifer, Vianey and Rachael
getting ready to test

Where do we put them?

An app that invites users to scan any of the Grand Park totems to explore the cultures that make up L.A.

"If I see other people playing it then I’ll probably jump in too."

_________________________   Anna

Teen Park Visitor

Challenge Accepted

Engaging park visitor with a challenge sparks play
After playing Stretch, a jumping game from South Africa, Ryan tried repeatedly to beat his personal best.

Users mark their best

Ryan marked his longest jump so other users could try to beat his best.

What I learned

Wording is important when trying to engage people to play.  Most people don’t read the small print.  Giving them an objective at the beginning ensures that they know what they are supposed to do beforehand.

Grand Games

Spark moments of play

Games will encourage use of the park and its pre-existing structures for simple impromptu play.

Language inclusivity

One side of the A-frame holds the English translation and the other side holds the Spanish. This encourages language immersion.

Learn about diverse cultures

Learn about games from other cultures sing QR codes that link to information about the culture that inspired the challenge.

Share and challenge using Instagram

Users can tag Grand Games or the specific game hashtag to share their results and challenge their friends.

Why a sign?

Signs are a low cost, simple way to display the Grand Games signs. All solutions are durable replaceable and storable.

Grand Park can partner with a previous partner AGMedia one of LA’s leading outdoor advertising companies to produce and install the signs and decals.

Grand Games website

We incorporated all of our design deliverables, project milestones, estimates, and background information into a website.

Stakeholder Feedback

"Love the games that you chose. We can combine to other events we have going on."

_________________________   Diaris Alexander

Grand Park

"So beautiful to see highlighted value of recreational activities that provide intercultural participatory opportunities."

_________________________   Gaby Hernandez

Grand Park at The Music Center


What Worked?

We tend to want to jump to a digital solution first but dialing back and finding a simple solution worked great. Grand Park has partners who print signs and decals for them therefore it is actionable.

What didn't?

There needs to be be more research and testing on games. In our research and SME interviews it was difficult to gather games with simple instructions that people wanted to play.

There was feedback that we needed to connect to the digital realm. Either the sharing experience did not come through in our presentation or sharing your experience with a hashtag on Instagram needs to be expanded on.

What will I do next time?

If I were to prototype again I would observe without engaging or prompting users. In our most recent 3 hour prototyping session, people did not engage with the signs they engaged with us.

I need to gather more insights, market research and analytics to focus on the ideal user.

My team was great, everyone wanted to be involved in multiple aspects of the project.  It was nice getting multiple perspectives but next time it might be simpler to assign tasks if everyone stays in their field.

Vianey Garcia

2022 Vianey Garcia| created with Webflow and Freepik