I wanted to give those of you who are not in Texas a quick update; this year, I accepted an offer from Goodpatch, a global UI company at their Tokyo, Japan office. This means about a week ago I have left the wonderful folks at frog design and moved from Texas to Tokyo. Goodpatch is a wonderful fit and my coworkers are lovely–more on that soon!
The process of moving has been an interesting one; it is a process that doesn’t lend itself to too much self-reflection though from all outward appearances you might seem to be idle for long stretches of time. Whether it’s waiting for your visa to be processed or for Animal Services Quarantine to reply back to your request to import an animal, most of the time for me was spent preparing, worrying about preparing too little, and seeing off folks in Austin. If I didn’t get a chance to see you, please imagine me giving you a big hug. It’s the best I can do from here.
In the time that I have had to reflect, I recently have been thinking about ethics in my profession. We as UX designers are stewards of our users into the digital world, and as stewards I worry sometimes about our collective ethics. This isn’t new or novel, since we’ve been talking about the ethics of technology since before the field of HCI was born. However, I keep referencing Alan Chochinov’s Sustainable Design Manifesto which he wrote in 2007 and observing that we, myself included, are struggling with these concepts.
There are many outside reasons I have experienced: the business case for ethical design is not strong enough, the design case for ethical design is not strong enough (if it is a system fundamentally built on constant use such as Candy Crush or other “freemium” apps), or the organization itself does not support design as a whole. These, of course, are the reasons why these companies sometimes seek outside help. But I can’t help but think part of the blame lies with me, or us.
My vision as a designer is evolving all the time, but especially now, I wonder about what my definition of “user” is in “user-centered design.” Previously, I saw the user as an individual with her own thoughts and feelings, but now I’m starting to explore what a user is in terms of macrosystems and microsystems.
When I talk about macrosystems, I’m talking about the systems that we as individuals are a part of. This could be our community, our location, our company, our society, our universal laws of physics, etc. This is inspired by Clifford Geertz’s book on ethnography Interpretation of Cultures and through reading David Graeber’s Debt. Both are based in ethnography and anthropology throughout the ages and are excellent reads if you have time.
For instance, when I use Skype in Japan to connect with my friends, I am not only having an individual experience of the application, I am also real-time watching my friends struggle with the application. I am also sitting next to my partner, who, from time to time, will take over my fumbling through hooking up the audio to try out some of his ideas. Both groups are sitting in a space with different internet connection types and different ambient sounds in different time zones. In our case, we were much more relaxed in setting up our connection as it was only the beginning of the day whereas our friends were slightly more goal-oriented as it was late evening and they were tired. In the end, we were able to watch a movie together (which was our goal all along), but it took about an hour and a half setup and us collectively watching each other cringe and curse at the screen. I’d like to believe that we as humans are social creatures, and as such, we use technology socially.
Does this mean that we as designers, who are hard at work designing systems that personalize themselves to individual users or surface suggestions based on the user’s previous selections are potentially missing the bigger picture of how users operate with the things we design? We share our technology with others; we expect it to understand and distinguish in turn.
When I talk about microsystems, I’m talking about the concurrent systems running in our own minds that have shaped our reactions as individuals. This could be our own previous experiences, either socially or technologically, the way we grew up, our psychology, or our own nervous systems. This concept is from Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking Fast and Slow and also Dan Ariely’s book Predictably Irrational, as well as many esteemed behavioral economists and psychologists. Specifically, I’d like to focus on System 1 and System 2 thinking as outlined in Kahneman’s book. System 1 thinking is our first impressions of a new thing, and System 2 thinking is our longer-term, deep thinking part of our brain. System 1 controls instant gratification and immediate excitement and System 2 controls deep satisfaction.
The easiest example of this for me would be free-to-play phone games. A friend of mine linked me to one of these, to which I instantly became addicted (recovering World of Warcraft addict here). It was fun at the outset–I had so many new things to do, and new, shiny objects that jingled. But over time, my System 1 thinking had slowed to System 2 thinking and I found myself wondering, “What good is this bringing into my life? What am I even doing here?” And eventually, I deleted the application off my phone. It came with a sense of disappointment and regret one gets after going out for 3am donuts (no judgement, please).
I’d like to also point out that while free-to-play games are the easiest example, there are far more that have integrated into our daily lives. While Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr have enriched my life in many ways, I have personally spent more time far past the time I was enjoying myself. It is also part of the reason why I will delete and re-download these three applications constantly on my phone. I’m torn by my System 1 thinking to have instant gratification in knowing I am appreciated and connected to my community and my rational System 2 thinking realizing that even though these apps are powerful tools, they are taking away my mindfulness in reality.
Does this mean that we as designers, who are designing systems to be immediately appealing and intuitive to users, are simply appealing to their System 1 sense and completely missing the opportunity to enable deep and gratifying satisfaction in users? Can digital media provide deep and gratifying satisfaction at all? I’d like to believe that it can enable people to have more knowledge and connect with others who then can provide gratification, but I don’t yet know if the medium itself lends itself to pure satisfaction.
I don’t currently have an answer yet to these issues I raised. It is something that I have been turning around in my mind for some time and will continue to do so in the following months. As an eternal optimist, I still believe in Chochinov’s vision of sustainable and ethical design and believe others do, too. I believe if more people talk about design in terms of ethics and in terms of designing within systems, the idea will catch on. I will continue to do my best to work in both of these systems to help others. In the meantime, I’ll be fleshing out these ideas in more detail later.
Thanks for reading.
I had the great fortune of being interviewed by a project through the Moody College of Communications at the University of Texas at Austin called Doing Innovation. This is a piece dedicated to the storyboarding and design work that I did as a contract storyboarder/designer under my own company, Blue Vanilla.
I had the great fortune of being interviewed by a project through the Moody College of Communications at the University of Texas at Austin called Doing Innovation. This is a trailer for their research and videos that they have created showing how millennials are leveraging new technology, developing creative communities, and forging innovative paths to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing economy. Huge thanks to Monique Walton, S. Craig Watkins and Alex Cho for putting this series together.
Videogames replace voting
Interaction Designer Chelsea Hostetter about the ways video games can transform public space
Смотреть на русском | Watch in Russian: https://www.facebook.com/strelkainrussian/videos/10153993977613269/
Posted by Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design on Friday, September 16, 2016
My talk from the Strelka Institute in Moscow is live! Check it out above.
Спасибо, folks of Moscow for having me speak on games in public space. It’s been very much an interest of mine for a long time and I hope that you’ve learned more about some of the interesting digitally and socially augmented games that are happening around the world.
Some folks have asked me for the resources that I used to create this talk as well as links to the examples and so I’d like to provide you with a list, organized by principle, of all of the games we talked about.
First off, this talk was initially inspired by Paul Dourish’s book Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction, as well as the work that Katherine Isbister is doing at the Game Innovation Lab in NYU and her and Kaho Abe‘s work on Hotaru, The Lightning Bug Game.
I also want to thank ACM Interactions Magazine for introducing me to some of these fine folks’ work; if you want to be inspired by HCI researchers around the world, I highly recommend subscribing.
These public games span the gamut of advertising, research and simply fun games designed to engage the public in some small way and help foster learning, community creation, relationship building and sometimes just making something that is really difficult fun or at least bearable to do (sugarcoating). They remind us in a small way that when used correctly, games allow us to bend social barriers, connect with others and learn things we never thought we could learn.
Though games have most often been used to fuel dark patterns of gamification in the past, there is no reason why we cannot use these powerful tools in social and public spaces for good.
Games that teach us by exploration.
Treasures: The Hunt (London, UK): Created by the now-defunct studio Hide&Seek, this game celebrated the opening of the London Natural History Museum’s new Treasures gallery by sending the entire city on a scavenger hunt mission of London’s most intriguing and peculiar natural history sites—putting them in the shoes of the archaeologists themselves. Participants were armed with physical “specimen jars” and were asked to make a rubbing at each station where a new “artifact” was discovered.
ONTRACK (Swansea, UK/Waikato, NZ): Born of a collaboration between the University of Wales and the University of Waikato, ONTRACK is a musical navigation system that directs users by adjusting the spatial qualities of the music to help guide them on their route. The “direction” of the music and volume of the music is manipulated by GPS and whether of not the user is on the suggested route.
Paint by RGB (Austin, TX): Created by Jared and Joey Ficklin of argodesign, this massive LED wall of color reacts to users brushing it with paintbrushes by adjusting the color every time it is brushed. This installation allows participants to play with color and is a low res prototype of what digital walls may look like in the future.
Yibu (Shanghai, CN): Created by frog design in Shanghai, this digital game is played with five wooden toys embedded with sensing technology that the game responds to—light, temperature, directionality, acceleration, and sound. Children are invited to learn and interact with their environment around them guided by a polar bear friend.
Strengthening bonds by making something beautiful together.
Brooklyn Bridge Park (Brooklyn, NY): This formerly defunct cargo shipping and storage complex has since been turned into a gorgeous park, complete with a variety of games for participants to enjoy. One such area is a concrete area upon which have seemingly random lines and blocks of color which invite kids and adults to create their own social games.
“Untitled” (Placebo) (Various Locations): This modern art piece is a creation of Felix Gonzalez-Torres and features 1,200 pounds of foil-wrapped candies with the intent that each time a viewer takes a candy, they contribute to the slow disappearance of the sculpture over the course of the exhibition.
The collectivity project (Various Locations): An art piece by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson which engages the broader public sphere through architectural projects and interventions in civic space. The collectivity project is an imagined cityscape, designed and built by the public. Participants are welcomed to play together to build the installation, changing the appearance and function over time.
Yamove! (New York, NY) Created by Katherine Isbister and Syed Salahuddin is a collaborative game in which two participants must create their own dance moves—in tandem with one another. Wearable trackers on the wrist sense whether or not each person is following the others’ movements and a digital screen projects their score. This has led each participant to co-create their own dance moves on the fly in response to the game.
Making what seems difficult a little easier.
Pokémon Go (San Francisco, CA): The hit game made by Niantic Labs allows users to walk around in the real world and “catch” Pokémon, pick up items, and battle other players at gyms. Participants hold a phone where they can see digital creatures projected onto their everyday surroundings. The game’s success has made it responsible for many avid players going outside, walking, and generally becoming healthier, both physically and mentally.
Failure Toy (Toronto, ON): A new project made by Twenty-One Toys is creating a toy that opens up opportunities for parents and children to talk about failure and the opportunities that arise together. It is a physical product that allows children to create and construct their own toy, but includes failure built in as part of the learning process, thus making it easier for children to see opportunities in mistakes.
ChoreMonster (Los Angeles, CA): This innovative app featuring goofy monsters sugarcoats for children the idea of doing chores. Parents input chores into the app as well as rewards for the chores and once the children complete the chores, the app gives them a chance to win a reward. This has, according to some of the reviews, had participants’ children “begging to do chores.”
VR Care (San Francisco, CA): Made by the San Francisco studio at frog design, VR Care is an incredible VR headset/game specifically designed for burn patients in hospitals to distract them from daily, oftentimes painful, burn treatments. The headset is designed to be comfortable, moisture-resistant and easy to make, and the game features ambient environments the participant can explore using only their head.
Fostering compassion between you and your community.
Heart of the Community (Various Locations): Partnering with the Project for Public Spaces, Southwest Airlines is supporting placemaking, or revitalizing previously-unused spaces for public use. One example of placemaking comes from Detroit, MI where PPS and Southwest redesigned Campus Martius, an unused median in Detroit into a public park for play and use. This brings communities and families together in a newly-created community space.
99 Tiny Games (London, UK): Another fantastic project by now-defunct studio Hide&Seek, these series of mini games were hidden all around London to celebrate the Olympic games. The games were written on placards distributed at points of interest in London and intended for play with others (for instance, a card on the top of a bridge might ask participants to play a game by watching the people walking below) utilizing the unique architecture of London.
ilovebees (Various Locations): Made by 42 Entertainment and designed by Jane McGonigal, was simultaneously a promotion for Halo2 as well as a study in collective intelligence. A website, which appeared to be “hacked,” drew participants in with its mystery, eventually leading them to physical coordinates, to phone booths, to a secret theater where a pre-release of Halo2 was shown and collectively played. This created a close-knit community of players even before the game was released.
Vote As You Go (Sydney, AU): Created by the University of Sydney, these mobile polling booths allow governments to engage the community on the go. A few form factors include a large digital display with a motion sensor that allows you to vote by waving, or a polling booth that asks a simple question when it detects movement. This allows pollers to ask relevant questions of participants within a space as well as fosters community engagement.
This is just a small collection of fascinating games, and there are many more. This sector of game-making is in its infancy as referenced by the fact that currently much of the work is being done within universities, and I am looking forward into the future of embodied interactive experiences with gaming. If you want to get in touch with me or get more game recommendations, please tweet me at @chostett or continue the discussion at #design4play.
For those of you who have asked, here’s a PDF of the presentation for the lecture. Hope you enjoy!
I’m back again for our fourth and final installment of the interaction 16 Roundup: Day Three, where I give you the best four or five highlighted talks of each day. I’ll caveat this by saying this particular roundup may be biased because not only did Riaz and I talk on this day, I will be mentioning some folks that I know personally. Even accounting for bias, these talks are really incredible and primarily deal with cross-discipline lessons and intentional interaction design, focusing on what we can learn by looking outside our narrow specialty and from self-reflection.
NOTE: In the last roundup, I missed frog’s own Christine Todorovich speaking on the element of time in designing for interfaces for younger folks. Definitely check out her talk, This Young Moment: Interaction Design in the Age of Hyperrealtime.
Let the final roundup begin!
Chelsea Hostetter & Ahmed Riaz: Designing for Play: What Interaction Design Can Learn From Video Games
Part talk and part demo, Riaz and I explain that engagement is the next minimalism to strive to, introduce five new design principles from video games around the world (something other than gamification), and play an interactive game demo with the audience to highlight our design principles. You can find our follow up post with all the games we speak to here.
Samara Watkiss: Identity Theft is Scary, but so is Cancer: Bringing the Insights of Design for Behavior Change in Health and Fitness to Cyber Security
Designers working in the field of health and wellness have learned that just waving a terrible possible future in front of people does not motivate behavior change. In this talk, we will take a rapid fire look at examples of security interactions and ask how the insights from other areas of interaction design can be applied to achieve better outcomes.
Ricardo Aguilar: Designing Experiences for the Connected Car
For those of us who have designed for vehicles, we know this comes with a whole host of new design problems. From a brief vision of a not-so-distant automotive future, to the current best practices when designing experiences for the modern car, Ricardo will go through some common scenarios and UX challenges in automotive experience design.
Charles Hannon: Gender and Status in Voice User Interfaces
A fascinating talk on gender and linguistics in voice user interfaces like Alexa, Siri, and Cortana. Charles explores what replicating language patterns in the language of AIs might serve to perpetuate gender inequalities, in society and in the new forms of human-machine relationships that are emerging today.
That concludes our roundup; interaction 16 was an incredible experience of some of the smartest minds in design today and I’m looking forward to participating in interaction 17 in New York. I hope to see you there!
(Credit to @janekatewong for the featured image.)