Some days ago I was in ITAG conference in Nottingham and had the opportunity to be in the company of creative and delightful people. Some of them researchers, designers, specialists, IT users with disabilities, artists and IT thaumaturgists.
The very first keynote speach was from the amazing Dr Anthony Lewis Brooks (aka Tony) who has conceived the concepts GameAbilitation, ArtAbilitation, and Ludic Engagement Designs for All. While presenting some of his work on GameAbilitation and ArtAbilitation he brought up the subject of conducting research with users with disabilities, about what happens to our users when research is over, funds are gone and the curtain of experiments has fallen. Dr Brooks presented the case of a young user who while unable to move and communicate had to part with the test device that provided him with interactive playful experience. We’ve all been there but not all of us think about it.
The second day of the conference, Professor David Brown, David Stewart, head teacher of the Oak Field Special School, and students from the NICER group had also highlighted what it means for users with disabilities to be part of a research project and then lose the ability to use its hardware/software. Usually we might not even visit again, not even to present the results and thank them.
It got me thinking about my own research and about the projects I have been involved with, over the past few years. Expensive smartphones, pads and gadgets that we choose trying to be proactive and design software for the state of the art hardware. Super playful and engaging software, fun DIY electronics and imersive experience. They all go away when research is over.
Most of the times, we do have to take the expensive devices back with us since they were already too few to begin with. Unfortunately if donated in the school they are rarely being used by the students. In the case of virtual reality or artistic installations it is extremely difficult to provide such equipment to users. Last but not least we are not sure how the software will be used and if the experience will continue to be positive for the users.
Well this might be how research works and we do try to be ethical, explain terms and conditions to our users and then say thank you, we sometimes return to present the results, give more “thank you”s and promise that “if it becomes available/when they acquire such an expensive device/when such smartphones become cheaper/when we’ll have funds” they can have such an experience again and that we make sure to upload everything online for free and so on and so forth.
And sometimes we do actually try to leave devices, guidelines and software behind, though we never return to check how is being used and if is being used. We do our best and in the end of the day, well, it is research…
I should be OK with it. So where is the catch? The thing is that it would be OK for people without disabilities, for people that are not limited in communication and experiences, sometimes even confined in a house. For researchers that work with people with disabilities and in my case with playful interactions and positive immersive experience, we might have to think harder when we write project proposals or sketch our methodology. Devices, software and experience should be available to the users after the conduct of the research. If not due to restrictions, user should at least continue to be part of the research’s debrief and next steps.
While I was in Nottingham I realised that sometimes our research, our playful educational experience, our DIY VR helmet, our beta, glitchy, research-only game, might be an amazing experience for the users. An experience that they might want to have access and process in their own pace. Next time smartphones will not be that expensive and we might have to re-think developing software only for the state of the art devices. Next time we should keep our users in the loop. Next time I’ll need to try keep the games going, after we exit the stage to design new ones.
Just came across an amazing resource from iversity.
Basically, it’s a completely free 8 week course on The Future of Storytelling, being provided collaboratively online by the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam.
I’ve just enrolled myself and on viewing the first set of units it’s an absolutely excellent introduction to transmedia storytelling, check out the video and information provided through the link.
This amazing piece of art, created by artist Lisa Park, allows her to manipulate water using her mind and a specialized headset that helps transform her brain activity into streams of data. Park used the EEG headset to monitor the waves of her brain as well as eye movements and transformed the resulting data with specialized software into sound waves. Five speakers are placed under dishes of water which then vibrate in various patterns in accordance with her brain activity,<span>each of them connected with certain emotions: sadness, anger, hatred, desire, and happiness. Park has been trying to achieve silence in vain… Such an emotional and playful performance!
From the moment I had my first Emotiv session - a brain wave monitor headset that taps the power of the mind, as well as using feedback from muscles -, everything changed in the way I perceived game controllers and gaming experience. It seems I was not the only one, since according to new projects, papers and articles, neuroscientists and game developers have started to transform an alliance co-designing games in the name of science, research, therapy and of course fun. Do you remember Mindflex?
Gamasutra’s Noah Falstein’s article on neuroscience and games provides some good insights, mentioning among others the work of Dr. Maureen Dunne regarding autism, video games, and brain research.
While most gamers won’t be saying goodbye to their controlers and joysticksany time soon, these neuroscience technologies do emerge and might change the way we play, interact or maybe re-train our brain.
This year’s Athens Plaython Festival included, workshops, talks and lots of games in the streets of Athens. More than 2.000 people played 13 street games from different design teams arriving from around the globe .
photo by Enri Canaj
This year among the players and bystanders there were people of different age, sex, ethnicity and ability. Early in the morning we played turtle Wushu with Roma children, Bernard De Koven’s New Games workshop included ages from 9 to 63 and people with different kinds of physical and cognitive disabilities participated in all games and playful experiences.
At one point I realised that some designers were trying to create personalised experience for players with different abilities, hacking their game on the fly and creating a more fair and inclusive platform.
The biggest challenge was to maintain an experience of high quality and accessibility equally to all players, especially when the surrounding space is not accessible nor friendly to any kind of disabilities. The way I saw it and at least for some moments, it seemed that the inaccessible design of the urban terrain, around the park of Thission and Ermou Street, blended with the inclusive, accessible and personalised design of the playful experience. Players’ described their experience as one of “togetherness”, “changing their routine”, “unexpected” and “delightful chaotic”.
This feeling of togetherness and inclusion allowed us, both as curators and as designers to re-thing urban games, big games and open playful experiences as social platform when people meet, interact and re-discover common space and social interactions.
I am not sure if this added value would emerge in urban spaces of better urban planning and design, however in Athens 2013 the stakes are high and the slightest change might create ripple effects for all.
photo by Themis Ghion
Next week at the 5th of October we Athens Plaython Games take part in another event, this time specifically focused on people with disabilities. It is another opportunity to experience this open platform and test its limits.
One design for all or personalisation on the fly?
Special educators or playful facilitators?
Hacking a game or re-design it for users with disabilities?
Involving the player to the design process or providing a robust unchangeable game?
So many questions, so little time to answer, we have games to play!
“Why do gamers do what they do? Why do those designing games do what they do?Why do those marketing and selling games do what they do?”
These are some of the questions that psychology of games blog is trying to address in a very successful imho way. No serious gaming and game based learning here kids, but you will definitely enjoy the opinion/results of a serious researcher who is a actually a gamer. Even the comments were really insightful and provided links with books/papers I was not aware of.
I was actually looking for some new papers on emotion and gaming and the Decision Making Under Arousal post was trying to tackle the unanswered omnipresent question “why am I staying up late playing games when I know you have to work tomorrow?“… oh why?
Little Red Riding Hood is one of my favorite myths and I always use it as a good example of effective transmedia storytelling. To be honest, I even have it as my laptop bg.
First of all is an archetypal story aka its symbols are way too strong to be ignored, with many different versions and variations and most importantly many different interpretations. Its powerful narration transforms according to the audience and the will of the storyteller and can integrate themes and issues such as freedom, will, choices and different paths, sexuality, authority, rituals, passage to maturity and transformations amongst others. It has been retold, used, produced and narrated by different media and I thought about creating a small catalog of game adaptations.
Some of the games inspired by the LRRH fable:
The Path is an art horror game that explores many of the different interpretations of the myth and my personal favorite so far along with
Overlord: Dark Legend is a third-person action-adventure game where LRRH makes a guest but notable appearance
Little Red Riding Hood is a post apocalyptic point’n’click game that narrates the story if you will be able to spot the differences.
Little Red Riding Hood is a simple strategy game in which you are able to help LRRH finish the story by creating the path.
Little Red Riding Hood’s ZOMBIE BBQ for Nintendo DS. features a tough and sexy LRRH that slaughter zombies and the undead as they infest the storybook fantasy land with evil. Fight story book characters that have been mutated and shoot laser beams, throw ninja stars and container ships… how cool is that?!
Do you know any other LRRH inspired games? I will make a further research in order to update the catalog soon