One of the advantages of living in China is the cheap and easy access to print shops and printing companies. On the street right outside our apartment community, there is a little print shop where customers would go to print menus, promotional fliers, legal documents and the likes. A full color page spread on thick glossy paper currently costs about 5 CYN (about 74 cents).

A small print shop in Xi’an, China

After a 30 minute visit, I was able to print all 20 pages (10 spreads) and all the character sheets and mechanical pieces for about 110 CYN (about 16 dollars at the current rate). The shop owners (husband and wife team) had no idea what I was doing but was quite curious. The cool thing? The kids that were there were naturally drawn to the book and had fun playing with some the pages after I explained to them how the book would work.

random play testers

Granted, kids are naturally curious about anything, especially brightly colored well drawn pictures. But watching them actually “gets it” and have fun interacting with the book gave me a boost of confidence that this idea will work.

the shop was quite small

My best play-testers though, are my two children. They love the prototype and insist on playing it over and over again. I had to create different characters for them and went through the book a few times within days of creating the prototype.

prototyping at home
prototyping at home

I think their favorite part is the character creation system. Kids just love being able to choose and personalize things of their own.

My daughter creating a character of her own

All in all, living in Chinas has its good and bad. In terms of prototyping printed material, this bullet item goes into the good column.

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