Final Writing Assignment| Capstone Studio | Dragonfruits

Once an expat woman comes to a new city, the labeling in the local community is inevitable.  In Shanghai, the urban cosmopolitan, stories may never be heard in the noise of labels. Most common labels that are encountered are an English teacher, an entrepreneur, a student, a traveler, a partygirl,  a company wife and others. However, lifestory is beyond labels. Lifestory is bigger than stereotypes. Lifestory is personal. The project Dragonfruits: Audio Stories from Shanghai expat women is a discovery of its residents. It’s the audio stories told by women who have a strong connection to the metropolis.

Several women were interviewed for Dragonfruits. However, despite willing to share their stories with the public, a few wished to remain nameless. In our society, it seems that the only inspiring figures the public is meant to see are men. Overly patriarchal society is on the way to change but women are still scared to share their success. As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie once said, “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much.” So many girls around the world are shrinking themselves. So many girls around the world are eating up their ambitions. So many girls around the world are uninspired. Dragonfruits wants to acknowledge the brave hearts who had no fear of making a decision to move abroad and start their lives over. Dragonfruits wants to inspire to be brave.

The web-based mobile app provides an opportunity for those who want to talk and those who want to listen. In addition to that, Dragonfruits’ connection to Shanghai is a direct proposal for city’s exploration. The stories are only available in specific locations of Shanghai where the women were interviewed. To be exact, the audio stories locations pop up at a distance closest to the listener. To ensure gradual familiarity with the city and smooth transition, Dragonfruits locations are secret. The listener may only uncover them by traveling around. As a result, exploration is unavoidable. As a result, another story is heard.

DEMO


Dragonfruits Demo with the user’s location in Jing’an

SLIDES


DRAGONFRUITS SLIDES + audio snippet that was presented

 

 

Assistive Tech| Asiya Gubaydullina| Readings Response #2

This week’s responses really made me think of the things that people with hearing disability can’t access. I am ashamed to admit that I never really realized that all those pretty content with good music would not be processed or understood by some people. Here is the thing, universities claim they are accessible to everyone but the reality is different. When creating content, universities, agencies and companies really have to THINK of everyone. Not just say it but really do consider everyone. Again, it goes back to the readings we had to do earlier this semester that there shouldn’t be a clear-cut false division between we and them. There aren’t “we and them”, there are us. So that makes me really upset that things like that happen. That people are not able to grasp any content except for an inspirational upbeat music. There’s gotta be this so-proclaimed inclusiveness implemented in everything we do. I honestly do not have anything more to say except that and I don’t want to add water to what I say. Things like that just have to happen. There shouldn’t be a question of price and time, it just HAS to be accessible for everyone. Again, the content production like Barbie, let’say, failed only because the price of production was too high for the company or university that makes billions. Well, really? That’s unacceptable. Or rather, inaccessible. Going back to our previous readings, beauty dictated beauty standards make some things popular without reflecting the reality. Once again, I am going to say that modern society claims to be inclusive but fails to prove it. This is the problem our generation has to work on to make real-life changes. To do that, however, we have to start with ourselves.

 

Assistive Tech| Asiya Gubaydullina| Final Project Progress and Documentation

As for our project, I figured it’s better to combine our preparations, progress and the final result in one post.

Initially, we started off with researching possible ideas. My group decided to focus on recreational activities to provide for children of the center. We had three ideas at first, which we decided to filter out after the visit. In terms of presentation of ideas, I was responsible for the toys section.

After our visit to the center, we discovered that the staff has already provided the children with all those possible toys but they really wanted to have soft toys with sound. So there, we embarked on a journey of coming up with ideas. We decided to focus on toys modifications that would be easy and fast to implement for the staff. Therefore, we found that adding contained beads to the toys would be the most suitable solution. Together with that, we were also looking for the ways to make bigger button switches or simply modifying button switches in the way that would be understandable and doable AND cheap so that the center could use the toys that have already been donated without the help of a professional. The easiest solutions turned out to be adding the spheres of beads/bells into the toy as well as using conductive fabric to change the switches to a bigger size.

So to make that happen, Cindy was so nice to offer her old toys to modify as well as order one cool ADIDOG from Taobao. I think the dog was one of our favorite things to play, even though we are rather old for that. It has 38 songs in the array AND it also records the environment any time it’s not playing music. So, it was tons and tons of fun to rip apart the soft toys, construct the beads spheres and put them back together. In addition to that, once we have seen the dog’s switch modified, we got so happy that kids can use it. Here are a few shots from our final presentation.

Overall, this was one of the best projects I have ever worked on during my IMA career. I think we reached all our initial goals of making it as fun as possible, as easy to make as possible, as low-tech as possible and also we really made something the center wanted to have. So, I am glad I got a chance to work with the center!

Assistive Tech| Asiya Gubaydullina| CereCare Trip

I guess the first thing to say is that I wasn’t able to come with the group to the center. Nonetheless, our final project group went there later during the semester, so I will write a few things about that.

I wouldn’t say I was surprised when I saw the center located in a residential area. I am not sure why but I don’t have high expectations about Chinese attitude toward people with disabilities. From what I know, or how it seems to me, Chinese generally want to hide that fact. So, when I arrived to almost the end of Puxi, so far away from all the hospitals, facilities, convenience – I just wasn’t surprised. It felt like arriving to the middle of nowhere, to be honest. I wish it was different. I wish there were more opportunities for kids to have access to all the convenience of the city. However, after consideration, I realized that I am, in fact, a bit torn between thinking it was a good idea and bad idea at the same time.

First of all, children are extremely sensitive. The city has lots of lights and sounds that could possibly cause an unpleasant reaction from sensory overstimulation. I might wrong about that. Also, it’s hard to have a fixed schedule in the city when children need it. The center really has to be a calm and relaxing place that stimulates just enough but not too much. So it’s hard to find that perfect solution. However, having the center located in such a distant location probably prevents people from going to volunteer there. I don’t want to be rude but I know how the prospect of spending hours on the metro first, then a bus, then another bus on the way there and back can be terrifying to people who live in Shanghai. It sounds silly but I am, for some reason, 70% positive that if only the center was in the center of the city, a lot more people would come and visit. Volunteer, in the first place. Once again, I might be horribly wrong.

Aside from that, I think that the center is really trying their best in providing children with the best resources they can gather. Before we went there, our group had the initial plan of making some sort of sensory room or a playground. To our surprise, they already had one wonderful playground that had all the things we had researched previously.

I wish I could be more critical about the staff as well but I really can’t. They seemed to be very caring, having a personal connection with every child and really wanting to make an impact on people who come in. They also never shied away from our questions and knew personal preference of every student. I am very glad the center has staff like this.

One thing that I feel ambivalent about the fact that children are all sort of locked on the particular floors. I haven’t seen a single elevator but I have seen the staircases. So I would assume that the staff has to carry those who are unable to walk without assistance, which makes it extremely difficult. However, I see that the lack of elevators is not the center’s fault. After one of the guest lecturer’s speeches, we were introduced to the fact that there isn’t really enough funding for the centers like that. So, I wish that the center would have had a better funding and support of the community. At least, this is the impression that I got.

Videogames as Art| Final Project Proposal| Asiya Gubaydullina (Krom)

Pillars of Opportunity

Now, the story is about a woman who has to make choices regarding family or career. In order to make those choices, the player is given an opportunity to collect either family or career points. The tricky part is that when the players collect one kind of points, he or she loses the other. To be more explicit, when the user collects one family point, he or she loses one career point and vice versa. The points for the family are represented by heart icons while the points for the career are represented by a briefcase. In addition to that, since I am taking a 2D platformer as a base for the art game, the points are placed on the platforms or, as I call them, pillars of opportunities. Those platforms are not fixed and disappear from the game randomly. It can happen while the player is standing on one of the platforms or even when the player already passed them through.
The struggle of the game is a balance family and career. Or the user can make a choice and stick to only one category. My main idea is to put the player into the shoes of a working woman since many of them face certain obstacles while trying to achieve the goal, whatever it is. All of the gameplay aspects have a metaphorical meaning. For example, the points win-lose situation illustrates the struggle to balance those two things. The disappearing platforms hint on losing the opportunities for balancing family and career. As in, nothing is ever going to be the same. Nothing is ever going to be systematically organized no matter how hard one plans something. While there are certain expectations, the players never know when the earth beneath the feet is gonna start shifting. As the platforms disappear, the player falls off the platform and starts the level again. There is no way to actually lose or win the game since, in case of the fall, the player simply starts over and over again. This represents the everyday struggle for women as well. Women don’t lose or win once they finally balance family and career since the moment can’t be frozen in time forever, they will HAVE TO start over. Every day is a new game. Lastly, even if the player finally manages to get to the very last platform of the game, the platform will once again disappear and they will have to start over again. The struggle for balance never ends.

I am not planning to change the premise explained above and submitted for the final presentation of the midterm project. I believe the aspects of the gameplay submitted for the final presentation at the midterm convey the meaning of my project. The rules of the gameplay remain the same. I plan to make adjustments in the design of the assets in order to make the game more visually and emotionally engaging. I will begin the game with a question asking the player to identify themselves with either female or male. However, no matter what they choose, the player will be assigned to engage with the game from the female perspective. As for the end, there is no such thing in my game. If the player loses the level, he or she will start over and over and over. A very short instruction to the gameplay is provided right after the player is put to a choice between male and female. The instruction window simply prompts the user to balance family and career. I do not wish to disclose every aspect of the game to the player. I want them to be surprised by the outcomes.  Windows or Macintosh computer systems are required to play the game.

Completed Game Reflection: 

First of all, the game name was changed! Now, I call it To Be Me. I feel like this name reflects more on the meaning than the previous one. Overall, compared to my original plan, I think that I have met my own requirements up to 85%. Why? Because I still feel there is room to push it in the right direction to make it more meaningful. There was only was part of my game design plan that I struggled with and a few minor bugs. I managed to work out most of it but one bug remained.

So, I planned to implement a pop-up text on collision with prompts suggesting different challenging situations where a player is forced to pick between family and career once again. For example, son or daughter got sick but the boss is requiring you to do an important presentation for the client. Or it’s your partner’s birthday but you have a very important meeting to attend and have to stay extra hours and miss the partner’s birthday. I did try several different codes but I believe there was an issue with layers and display because the debug.log() was showing that the code was being executed.

The problem with layers was my nightmare throughout the process. Still, even now I am not sure how to fix it. The layers hierarchy affected the sprite display. So when the character jumps on the platform, she lands behind it instead of in front it. Again, I tried several things and spent more than 2 hours trying to figure it out but it turned out to be fruitless. Hopefully, I can fix it in the future.

One big change was the design. For example, compared to the midterm presentation, the game became a lot more fun as well. I was struggling to figure it correct sprites for the character, collectibles, and the platforms when I finally got an idea to use something almost all of us see and use almost every day. Emoji. Emoji was my solution. Moreover, the character transformed from a boring lavatory sign into a playful imaginary ideal of the woman. So it is no longer a faceless, character-less figure but a lady in a red dress, on heels, who is expected to be an overachiever.  So I am rather happy with the game’s feel now.

Also, there was a lot of code clean up and rewrite that happened. In addition to that, I worked on tweaking the scripts from 2D platformer and adding new ones to reach the desired effect. For example, not all platforms fall after the player collided with them. It a random chance. User testing proved that with every platform falling there is no way to play the level for longer than 5 seconds. No chance to take a breath and plan a strategy. The coins probability and randomness is tweaked as well. Originally, the collectibles were placed on every platform but after user testing, I realized that there are way too many. It doesn’t make sense to provide that many to make the player motivated to even out the balance between career points and family points. The biggest work was done on generating random levels after the player falls off the platform. Each level consists of 5 construction parts that are placed in a random order, which doesn’t allow the player to memorize the way up and succeed in the game. This wasn’t the point. I think I spent the most amount of time implementing the mapping system into 2D platformer game. The platform generator script is no longer in use, I wrote another one that actually works with map-type of generation.

Overall, I think a few successful things have been done but there is always plenty of room for improvement. Here the link for playable version: click here!

Capstone Studio| User Testing Update

For this week’s assignment, we were supposed to user test once again. Here are a few things that came up:

  • people did not express the interest in having directions of the walks in the selected area since they wished to have more freedom for exploration,
  • some stated that they would not want to have the information about the people who were interviewed,
  • they also said that they would not want to be provided with social media links as well,
  • BUT the other half opted for actually having some of the info provided in order to identify with the interviewee,
  • moreover, they also thought that having a locked audio player is not an option. testing proved that the users wished to have more freedom in their choices,
  • in terms of design, there were general comments on the editing for the final round of it,
  • also, there were general comments regarding the process of interview. the users said they wished to hear a story, not an interview, which means my voice on the tape should be minimized as much as possible.

Assignment: Pushing Against Boundaries (Krom) | Asiya

For this assignment, the class was supposed to decide between two options: to come up and analyze our own “Sol Lewitt Game Rules” or write the design/description of our own hypothetical Game Art mod based on an already existing game. After careful consideration, I picked the second option. However, as I was thinking about the ideas to implement I realized that the field of Game Art is rather complicated. Moreover, I also came to the conclusion that most of my ideas for the mod slightly fall into the category of an Art Game. Now, I willfully admit that I struggled quite a lot with the analysis of an Art Game, so I might be wrong from the start. After a brief discussion in class, I settled on the idea that, according to the professor, might as well be somewhat an art game as well as the game art. Without further adieu, I would like to introduce the mod.

The inspiration for the mod came from the in-class presentation on Game Art. In particular, the ArsDoom by Orhan Kipcak and Reini Urban. The creators added a new level to Doom2,  “a virtual copy of the exhibition hall Bruckner Hall in Linz” where the players can roam around the exhibition hall, evaluate the art and destroy it. So, I settled on working with a first-person shooter game. That, combined with an inspiration drawn from a famous photograph of hippies putting flowers inside of the military guns as an act of protest, led me to a mod that switches bullets in the FPS game guns to flowers. Moreover, I want to reverse the mechanics of the health bar to increase in points with every flower shot. Therefore, with such simple mod, I am breaking the gameplay of conventional FPS games.

The reason why I wish to design a Flower Power mod is because I, personally, do think that FPS games are violent and brutal. I do think that they can have a certain impact on the mental health of the player at the age when the child is not supposed to be engaging in any type of violent activities. However, once the player reaches a certain age mark, there is a clear-cut understanding between the actions taken in the game world and in the real world. So, one aspect of what I want to do is take the aggression out of the FPS game completely. By simply switching the bullets to flowers, the action of killing someone is out of the equation. The act of shooting remains but the violence is not. That in its turn leaves the player with a question, “What is the point of the game now?”

In addition to that, many FPS games base their plot development devices on the completion of the mission that does require the elimination of the player by the means of shooting. Therefore, without the targets being taken down, the game cannot progress to its completion. To add, according to the Quora member, FPS games are “always a game of skill and pinpoint precision, and maneuvering your way through labyrinthine levels.” So, without the need for skill, pinpoint precision and the shooting, FPS games do lose their main objective. With a simple act of switching the bullets to flowers, the game no longer functions as an actual FPS game. It’s no longer stress-release violent play but a concept based on the famous “Make peace, not war” quote. It suggests automatic surrender. The main objective is destroyed. It is now purely an art piece.

Assistive Tech| Asiya Gubaydullina| Reading Response #1

For this week’s assignment, we had to watch a few videos as well as read a few articles an write out response to those. First of all, I’d like to say that watching Stella Young’s Ted talk as a starting point for our readings made a really good point. I never really thought of people with disabilities from that angle. I never thought that you could possibly offend a person by nominating them for an achievement award in case if there is a disability present. I never thought that it is not right to consider people with disabilities achievers (let’s say) when they manage to do an everyday life activity. I do see that I was wrong, my way of thinking about it is completely backward. I realize now that labeling someone as an extra-achiever because they managed to do something ordinary only because they are disabled is not exactly something that they want. All I see now is that people just wanna be people. They want justice, they want equality in all senses. Which I definitely agree with. Labeling is labeling, no matter what intentions you have in mind. I might say that I still do think that my day dynamics is probably a lot smoother than a day in life of a person with a disability but after watching Stella’s talk I understand that for other people certain things are simply a part of their routine. As she said, “I have lived in this body a long time. I’m quite fond of it. It does the things that I need it to do, and I’ve learned to use it to the best of its capacity just as you have.” See, turns out this is just a matter of using your body to its full capacity, which is something we all end up doing at the end of the day. Objectification is in no way permitted, it is not a right way to address this. So, I’d say that the Ted Talk was rather enlightening.

Another great Ted Talk we were assigned to watch is the one given by Aimee Mullen. I think she also brought a new point of view into the equation. She does bring up an interesting point about the need to look like a human in order to feel like a human. However, we are all humans and there is no need to make an exception for people with disabilities when they have to obtain something human-looking in order to blend in. There has to be a norm when those kinds of actions are regarded as not any out o the ordinary and deserving an extra special attention. This resonates very much with “Identity Meets Ability”.

NY Times Paralympics – Design Meets Disability – Sara Hendren – NY Subway System

After careful consideration, I would say that all the readings resonate with the Ted Talks and the other video we had to watch. That, on one hand, we need to stop to make a clear-cut division between people with or without a disability. That, in a sense, it doesn’t make people with disabilities any less human or any more inspirational since they would still like to be considered as humans. Nothing less, nothing more. There is no need to distinguish someone as inspiration just because they had a limb amputated or born without a limb and they do everyday things. It seems to me that they want to be considered inspirational because they are athletes or designers or any other person who distinguished themselves in their line of job or profession. I don’t want to say something like “normal” because what is the norm really? To be human? To have something that everyone has or doesn’t? This doesn’t seem fair to me. People with certain disabilities are still people. They aren’t unusual or extraordinary. They want to live their lives without everyone pointing out this or that. They don’t have to strive for a modern standard of beauty and stereotypes. However, on the other hand, the other video for accessibility of metro for the people with disability makes you think that there is a certain division line in existence in order to accommodate. Nowadays, people would like to think of themselves as inclusive but at the same time, that inclusiveness is sort of fake. A lot of things, with an example of Sara Hendren’s readings, were originally created to accommodate those who needed that. But over the years, people took it for granted, taking these designs into our lives and presenting them as pieces that only serve people without disabilities and completely disregarding the history. I mean, it’s hard to deny that there is a “false divide to make a we/them: able-minded, able-bodied, or disabled.” No matter what though, there is a question of how we deal with that. Now, this is an interesting topic for discussion that, I believe, will definitely arise in class.

Capstone Midterm Update | Asiya Gubaydullina

Project Brief

“Dragonflies” is the mobile application allowing users to listen to audio stories of women who lived or currently reside in Shanghai in order to pass the previous experience of living in a big city or as I call it “living on a suitcase” style on to the newly coming female expats.

Accomplished So Far

Overall, I believe that the project is going successfully so far. I have been working on the design as well as the most important part of the “Dragonflies” — interviews. Now, the design is not final since I am constantly reworking the UI as well the mapping options for the app. I have also changed the name of the product to “Dragonflies”. I have conducted a research regarding the interviewees in terms of the questionnaire and the best approach together with techniques for the process. So far, I’ve had one interview completed and edited. It is ready to go on the app.

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Also, I am still debating my choices for the map options. So far, I either decide on the option of having all the stories in one location or have them spread out around the city. Moreover, I am incredibly indecisive regarding the location-based specifics like if I want to have the directions for the audiowalks or I rather give a complete freedom for exploration to the user. I am confident I will make my final decision by the end of this week so I no longer go back and forth and waste my time as well as effort.