Posted: August 31st, 2007 | 1 Comment »
Via Frédéric: Affective Diary is a project conducted by SICS and Microsoft Research by Kristina Höök, Martin Svensson, Anna Ståhl, Petra Sundström and Jarmo Laaksolathi, SICS, Marco Combetto, Alex Taylor and Richard Harper, Microsoft Research.
This diary is based on a “affective body memorabilia” concept since it captures some of the physical, bodily aspects of experiences and emotions of the owner through body sensors, (and uploaded via mobile phone). Eventually, it forms “an ambiguous, abstract colourful body shape”. These shapes can be made available to others and “the diary is designed to invite reflection and to allow the user to piece together their own stories.
The usage scenario is described as follows:
“In Affective Diary users carry bio sensors that capture for example movement, skin temperature, galvanic skin response and pulse. Activities on the mobile phone is also captured, sent and received SMSs, Bluetooth presence, photos taken with the camera and music that you have listened to during the use. The user carries the sensors, for example, during a day, in the evening at home the data is downloaded into a tablet PC and the user’s day is represented in Affective Diary as an animation, where the data is shown. The bio data is visualised as characters with different body postures and colours, representing movement and arousal. The data from the mobile phone is graphically represented and clicking on the different representations makes it possible to read SMS-conversations, view other Bluetooth units and photographs and hear the music again. There is also the possibility to scribble in the diary and the characters representing bio data can be changed, both the body posture and the colour. The Affective Diary aims at letting users relive both the physical parts of their experiences as well as the cognitive parts.“
Why do I blog this? what I find intriguing (and new) here is that, compared to existing projects (such as Bio-Mapping by Christian Nold) the “history” feature is taken into account (as shown maybe by the picture above). In a sense, it’s interesting to think about how an history of physicological reactions/emotions can be turned into a design object. This is not only interesting in mobile context but also in terms of objects interactions. How would an object register emotional content. Thinking about Ulla-Maaria’s project, it would be curious to add this emotional component (especially about object created by oneself)
Posted: August 31st, 2007 | Comments Off
The role of architecture in video games by Ernest Adams is a Gamasutra column that is very relevant to my research interests. Prior jumping into his explanation about this topic, the author compares the reasons of constructing buildings in the real world and in a video game. If protection or personal privacy (toilets) are not important i game architecture, military activity and general decoration certainly are.
Then he describes the primary functions of architecture in video games:
“The primary function of architecture in games is to support the gameplay. Buildings in games are not analogous to buildings in the real world, because most of the time their real-world functions are either
irrelevant or purely metaphorical. Rather, buildings in games are analogous to movie sets: incomplete, false fronts whose function is to support the narrative of the movie.
There are four major ways in which this happens:
- Constraint: architecture establishes boundaries that limit the freedom of movement of avatars or units. It also establishes constraints on the influence of weapons.
- Concealment: architecture is used to hide valuable (and sometimes dangerous) objects from the player; it’s also used to conceal the players from one another, or from their enemies.
- Obstacles and tests of skill: Chasms to jump across, cliffs to climb, trapdoors to avoid.
- Exploration: exploration challenges the player to understand the shape of the space he’s moving through, to know what leads to where.
The Secondary Function of Architecture in Games:
- Familiarity. Familiar locations offer cues to a place’s function and the events that are likely to take place there.
- Allusion. Game architecture can make reference to real buildings or architectural styles to take advantage
of the ideas or emotions that they suggest.
- New worlds require new architecture. To create a sense of unfamiliarity, create unfamiliar spaces.
- Surrealism: It creates a sense of mystery and more importantly, it warns the player that things are not what they seem.
- Atmosphere. To create a game that feels dangerous, make it look dangerous.
- Comedic effect. Not all game worlds are familiar, dangerous, or weird; some are supposed to be lighthearted and funny.
- Architectural clichés: set a scene and establish player expectations quickly. These are a sort of variant on familiarity, without the benefit of being informed by real-life examples
Adams also gives pertinent examples of spatial elements that, considered as real-world architecture, would not be very sensible or coherent, but that are perfectly functional and fun as part of the game mechanic.
Why do I blog this? a very insightful review of how spatial features are important to support game mechanics. What is also important is that this reflects the game designer vision, which is complementary to the architecture view (see for example this article I blogged about the other day).
In addition, it made me think that this could also spark some interesting thoughts regarding physical space and pervasive gaming. Maybe this correspond to how parkour people see the physical environment, as game designers.
Posted: August 31st, 2007 | Comments Off
A very unprecise Pi annotation (it does not give more than 2 digits) found on the streets of Lyon. Very concise anyway. The presence of a mathematical constant.
What is interesting is that the name “pi” (well, “π”) is the first letter of the Greek words περιφέρεια which means “periphery”. Perhaps, putting pi tags at the periphery of things would be a new trend in street art.
Posted: August 30th, 2007 | Comments Off
Enhancing player experience in MMORPGs with mobile features by Elina M.I. Koivisto and Christian Wenninger is a paper presented at DIGRA 2005 that addresses how the massive multiplayer game experience could be augmented through mobile services. Although written in 2005, not much has really change concerning the cross-platform issues described in this paper, so it’s still very pertinent.
The paper interestingly provides the reader with a categorization based on “how the player can interact with or influence the virtual game world and other players by using his mobile phone. It’s actually obtained through focus groups conducted both in Helsinki and in a virtual chat-room. The results they describe concerns:
- Communication access: through IM or voice communication.
- Event notifications: to be aware of specific events, some level of control is needed here, given that it could be intrusive.
- Asynchronous gameplay: to manage specific game feature asynchronously, like crafting, mobile auction.
- Synchronous player-to-player interaction, which may allow the mix of players using different platforms, through articial intelligence, especially in turn or tick-based game.
- Passive participation: observe the game world or influence the game by voting or rating with the mobile device.
- Parallel reality: “Real-life events can have an effect on the events in the virtual game world and vice versa“, like location-based games.
It’s also relevant that the authors describe how these feature would change (or not) the game mechanics. The factors that limit the mobile-enhancement are also mentioned and revolves around the problems of latency and I/O issue (text) as well as pricing for data transfer. This last point might eventually be fixed soon through flat fees.
Why do I blog this? this classification emerged from focus groups is great material to be included in the literature review for a research project about this topic. Also, it allows to set some baseline about the current ideas concerning cross-platform gaming. There is a “physical” axis here which ranges from basic observation (gamer as spectator) to using real-life events in the game mechanic. I am convinced that other axes should be found to map more design opportunities.
Posted: August 30th, 2007 | 2 Comments »
Some quotes from Latour, B. Pragmatogonies: A Mythical Account of How Humans and Nonhumans Swap Properties. American Behavioural Scientist 37(6), 1994, 791-808 to keep up my sleeve:
“According to my origin myth, it is impossible even to conceive of an artifact that does not incorporate social relations, or to define a social structure without the integration of nonhumans into it. Every human interaction is sociotechnical.
[cannot consider] the artifacts with which we share so much of our society as mere things. They deserve better, they deserve to be housed in our intellectual culture as so many fully fledged social actors. They mediate our social action? No, they are us“
Why do I blog this? morning cultural sessions with bruno latour with a Golden Yunnan tea.
Posted: August 30th, 2007 | Comments Off
A Public Inconvenience (The 3rd workshop in the in-between-ness series) is a workshop about public toilets in urban environment that I surely want to attend. Organized by Arianna Bassoli, Johanna Brewer, Karen Martin, Valentina Nisi and Martine Posthuma de Boer, the focus will be on the design of this interesting (and often overlooked place):
“ Technologies designed for the city often try to abstract away from the inconvenient necessities which our bodies require; or, when they are designed explicitly for public toilets, the focus is on supporting the cultural values of hygiene and privacy. What do we miss by ignoring the fact that public toilets are also the site for a variety of social practices?
‘A Public Inconvenience’ will explore the experience and affect of public toilets in an urban environment, in this case Amsterdam. Through observation and engagement we will consider how public toilets are shaped by, and themselves shape, cultural practices, values, and attitudes. And further, how this essential part of the urban fabric contributes to the everyday experience we have of our cities.“
(Toilet seen in Saint Jean de Luz France last spring, obviously for aliens)
Why do I blog this? I have to admit that toilet is a spatial artifact that I found interesting, mostly in terms of design and the practice created there. The advent of ubicomp also makes toilets more and more the focus of complex design and there are crux issues at stake here. There are lots of issues: communication between people, statements left by people, possible analysis of body troubles, etc.
And of course, with questions asked by the organizers such as “Why would a toilet want a blog?”, I definitely want to be in.
Posted: August 29th, 2007 | 1 Comment »
McGregor, G.L. (2006). Architecture, Space and Gameplay in World of Warcraft and Battle for Middle Earth 2 , Proceedings of the 2006 international conference on Game research and development, pp.69-76.
This paper, which is very relevant to my work at the lab, is an architectural analysis of the spatial qualities of two video games: World of Warcraft and Battle for Middle Earth 2. The author starts by pointing out how game architecture is different from architecture in reality because the underlying rationale has a different purpose. In games, the architecture is created to produce challenges and gameplay.
The whole paper offers an analysis of two video games, let’s jump to the conclusion to see the main issues of interest to me, i.e. the meaning of space:
“Both games build on established fantasy traditions, using architectural and ecological diversity to differentiate races and spaces. Both games use architecture to clarify and simplify gameplay in two very different ways. World of Warcraft uses architecture and landscape as an organisational system that contains activity and builds on usage patterns from real life. In contrast BFME II creates architecture as a symbolic object that stands for complex systems within a flattened and simplified contested spacemap.
The dichotomy between architecture in videogames as a spatial entity or as an object suggests a primary division of games into those that are concerned with movement through space as a visceral experience and those that are not.
they operate with significantly different approaches to spatiality. On one hand we have a game that represents architecture and landscape as accessible and spatial, that is characterised by an embodiment in and a personal view of space, that focuses on an individual’s movement through that space and that simulates a physical (though primarily visual) experience of space. On the other we have a game that produces architecture as an object and the landscape as a map, that uses architecture to represent intangible concepts, that simplifies the landscape and favours an external viewpoint, a game that simulates a conceptual view of space in which codified relationships are more important than physical characteristics, favouring metaphor over corporeal experience. “
(Pictures taken from the paper: WoW and BFME II)
I was also interested in the part about affordances:
“It is interesting to briefly consider the architecture of both games in relation to notions of affordance, taking William Gaver’s separation of affordances and perceptual information. The architecture of BFME II exhibits a false affordance of conventional architectural/spatial use in the way it mimics the visual properties of real buildings. Other uses of architecture in gameplay, for example creating soldiers, exist as hidden affordances. BFME II relies on the gameplay manual and knowledge of established traditions in real-time strategy games to indicate to the player the buildings utility. Conversely World of Warcraft primarily exhibits perceptible affordances of customary architectural and spatial use to its architecture, creating a congruity between what between what the player perceives they can do and the activities they can perform. “
Why do I blog this? it’s been a long time that I am interested in finding this sort of paper, that would use architectural analysis of video game. This type of work is both interested for architecture (new objects to analyze, new behavior to observe, etc.) and for game design as it allows to understand more level design and how space could be articulated with game mechanics.
I am also wondering about how to go further, how to enrich game/level design through that sort of research analysis. Currently, I am gathering material like this paper and hopefully try to integrate this more deeply, maybe I’ll try to write a paper about architecture and gaming to formalize more the interconnections.
Posted: August 29th, 2007 | 1 Comment »
A good quote I’ve read in a french book about foresight (“Fabriquer le futur 2 : L’imaginaire au service de l’innovation” (Pierre Musso, Laurent Ponthou, Éric Seulliet)), translated by myself:
“One can systematically notice a paradox in the public attitude – namely consumers that area comfortable with technological devices. On one hand, one notice the ever-growing needs in terms of comfort, simplification of domestic tasks and distractions. This desire make attractive any propositions that delegate the tedious efforts to machines, that lower the accidents or diseases or that offer improved sensorial performances. On the other hand, consumers always jealously defend a number of principles that corresponds to the traditional representation of how their homeplace should be: autonomy and authority (…) Thus, any automatic device must present some limits in terms of decision autonomy” (Edouard le Maréchal, Tangenciels) “
Why do I blog this? I quite like this ambivalence between a desire for certain delegation and the refusal of automatic systems. That’s definitely one of the greatest challenge in design, which emerge from the problems caused by automation. Too often automation is generalized to lots of contexts in which things do not work properly.
Posted: August 28th, 2007 | Comments Off
Writing a paper about the affordances of space, I tried to get back to Catchbob data and create some heat maps that would represent players’s exploration of the environment with two different weather conditions: with (first) or without snow (right)… a sort of commonsensical demonstration of how weather conditions influenced participants’ behavior:
Why do I blog this? achievement of few hours toying with this idea to illustrate a paper.
Posted: August 28th, 2007 | 1 Comment »
Paul Saffo’s latest column on his web notepad interestingly deal with the “bicycle versus tricycle” design issue:
“Hewlett Packard’s announcement last month of a “Retro” edition of its HP35S calculator highlights another interface that is an even greater lost opportunity — Reverse Polish Notation. Invented in the 1950s by Australian computer Scientist Charles Hamblin, RPN was adopted by HP as the interface for all of its calculators back when calculators began appearing in the early 1970s. RPN is a vastly more efficient way to enter problems on a calculator than the standard infix method used on virtually every calculator sold then — and today. For example, if one wished to add 3 to 4, with infix on a conventional calculator, the keystroke sequence is , [+], , [=], while with RPN on the HP35S, one enters , [ENTER], , [+].
Borrowing an analogy told to me by Doug Engelbart, RPN is to infix as a 2-wheeler bike is to a tricycle: The tricycle has no learning curve, but it will never go fast. In contrast, the two-wheeler takes some practice, but once one learns, the bike is a high-performance tool.
Unfortunately, RPN never caught on widely and even HP lost its nerve and abandoned RPN for most of its calculators. As a consequence calculator users today have no choice but to purchase computational tricycles. But try RPN and you will never go back.“
Why do I blog this? I am often intrigued by examples of the “bicycle versus tricycle” issue in design and how different shape of the learning curve can influence the user experience in the long run.