bingo! with mr. vern

concept development, character and background design and animation, user interface design

This children's CD-ROM was created especially for classroom use, and was a popular favorite for many years within several Illinois school districts. The game featured Mr. Vern, a retired tinkerer who wheeled his homemade and unneccessarily complicated bingo-ball-dispensing machine into classrooms in order to call bingo games.

Built to be played as a group activity, the game was displayed on a TV monitor at the front of the classroom, and controlled by teachers via special hand-held remote devices. To begin, they chose which game to play (animal names, money denominations, analog vs. digital time, etc.). Then they printed out system- generated bingo cards for each child. Once the game began, Mr. Vern not only presided as bingo caller, but also sat around and chatted randomly with the kids while they were looking for matches, sharing amusing little stories and anecdotes in-between calls. When a player finally got BINGO, Mr. Vern let loose and did a little dance to celebrate.

Built in Director, and drawn mostly pixel-by-pixel, this project was loads of fun to create. The most gratifying part, however, came on the day I received photos of children in classrooms laughing and jumping out of their seats in order to dance along with Mr. Vern. I also learned that it was not unusual for them to talk back to him during the game, just like he was a real person.