Project Overview

Independent project: HCI lab, Tsinghua University (Beijing)

Time: Jun 2015 - Nov 2015

Instructor: Prof. Patrick Rau

My contribution: design, research

Kitchen KungFu is a match-3 game designed to introduce Chinese medical beliefs. It is inspired by the difference between traditional eastern and western medical cultures. Specifically, it presents the "hot-cold" properties in food and medicine.



Influenced by Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chinese have their unique medical beliefs. This cultural difference tends to cause inconvenience and misunderstanding in cross-cultural communication, especially under clinical settings (e.g. when Chinese immigrants seek medical service abroad) Thus it’s important to raise awareness on this cultural issue.


Potential Players

Who would be most interested in this game? After interviews with several international students and browsing related articles and social websites (Facebook, Twitter, Quora), I created the persona of people who are interested in Oriental culture and lifestyle (yoga, herbal therapy or vegetarian).




I have always been interested in gamification and think it could be an fun way to present  educational information through playing. I finally decided on match-3 game as its specific form because: 

  • It’s popular (think about CandyCrush Saga, Bejeweled)
  • It’s easy to learn
  • Effective metaphor (eliminating items = eating food)
  • personal interest :)




Initial Test

Four players tested the prototype and reported the main problems:

  • The goal of each level is not clear
  • The feedback of eliminating target foods and non-target is not differentiated


  • Enlarge status bar
  • Delete irrelevant elements like scores in status bar, only reserved countdown
  • Different sound effects between positive & negative feedback


Visual design

I also selected background music, various sound effects that occur with each operation during the game

in game.png


Screen Recording

Check out a screen-recording video!



Further Play Test

I conducted play tests with 10 international students who are from different cultural backgrounds. Besides testing the usability issues, I also designed questionnaires and in-depth interviews to evaluate how people's perceptions and knowledge of Chinese medical beliefs changed after the game.


Academic Papers

An academic paper based on the project was accepted by HCI International 2016, held in Toronto, Canada. Check it out here: 

Kitchen KungFu: A Match-3 Game to Explore Chinese Medical Beliefs

Another paper on Chinese medical beliefs:

Measuring Chinese Medical Beliefs of Chinese Adults