Interaction Lab Final Project Fall 2018
CONCEPTION AND DESIGN:
From the start, my partner and I wanted to use Processing and Arduino as a tool to create a game that was intended to be both physical and digital. For both of us, the interaction level was extremely significant when brainstorming for ideas for our final project. Our purpose was to make a game that would not solely function as entertainment but as some form of education as well. Since, education in its traditional form, articles, books, lectures etcetera, is not always effective, at least not for all people, we focused on educating on recycling as an element of our game-plan. As previously stated in the feedback during the presentation, there is nothing wrong with creating a game that has the sole purpose of entertaining, and I agree, nevertheless we thought of this second purpose of education in a slightly different way. When adding an educative, environmentally conscious, purpose to the game, we thought of adding this in a much less obvious way. The game primarily focuses on the competition between 4 players to obtain the highest score. The players are thus particularly focused on winning. However, in order to win they need to throw as many balls and thus recycle as many trash objects into their ‘trashcan,’ which could result in them making the connection between recycling as something good, by winning. By doing this, the educative part of the game sets itself to the background, while the goal of winning is primarily in the foreground. Even though, this is the case, subconsciously the high number of trash objects in the animated recycle bag on the processing screen is seen as something positive, because it relates to winning. Recycling is winning. We used materials, such as wood and cardboard, for our physical design. Beforehand, we were slightly afraid that these materials wouldn’t be strong enough for a game requiring natural force. However, because our design requires 4 round tubes, the design became slightly more difficult, since, round shapes are difficult to alter in size, thickness etcetera. We considered replacing the cardboard materials which laser-cut plastic but unfortunately at this stage we simply didn’t have enough time.
FABRICATION AND PRODUCTION:
For the physical part of our game, we modeled a wooden box with the laser-cutter and shaped four holes where the tubes for our ball-game would go. During the user-testing session we finished our part on Processing, the digital part on Arduino, and we had 4 buttons working in collaboration with Processing, however the physical part was not fully finished yet. I had tried throwing the balls into the tubes before, without yet placing the buttons in (which ended up being quite the task), and I found that, aside from having a terrible aim, it was very difficult to succeed in throwing the balls into the tubes. We realized that this would be quite complicated due to the tubes being so narrow, and the balls being too little and slightly too big. We, however, did not find material to replace the tubes with, so we decided to try to find our way to work around that. We firstly replaced the buttons from the IMA center with buttons we bought, with thanks to Eric’s advice, at the Tech market in Shanghai. We then reshaped the tubes by cutting them open at the top so that it would be easier to hit with the ball. We then decided to place the buttons against the backside of the tube at the top, making it to goal to hit against the button instead of throwing the ball inside the tube, which made it easier to collect points (and thus trash). In short, we spend quite some time figuring out exactly how to make the physical part of our project work, for it to be user-friendly. If we had the time and the opportunity, we would definitely take Leon’s advice into account, given after our presentation. Leon advised us to replace the buttons by something else that would make the connection between Arduino and Processing. Instead of buttons, we could have used certain sensors, such as distance sensors for example, or we could have even just made the connection by throwing the ball onto two wires tight together and covering the ball with electricity tape of some sort. There are quite a few ways, and if we had the time, we would have definitely experiment with the options more.
We thus wanted to create an interactive, engaging, competitive, physically challenging and educative game by using Processing and Arduino. The results of our project definitely lined up with my definition of interaction, since there is a large amount of interaction involved in our project due to the high physical intensity of our game. There is a communication happening between the user and the animation on processing and the user himself has the ability to alter the information communicated to Processing, through Arduino as a medium. Having the ability to alter the information transferred to Processing is significantly important because it illustrates the variety of reactions can follow from the interaction between user and device. Besides this, there are two other forms of communication present: communication between the four players as users, and also the communication between two devices, Arduino and Processing. On the other hand, a successful interactive project should be self-explanatory and user-friendly. Our game requires the user to read attentively through the introduction at the very beginning of the game and besides this, the game is quite difficult to play due to its physical design.Aside from this, the users did interact with the game as we expected them too. We were aware (and slightly stressed) about the fact that it would be quite a difficult game to play, however it was very exciting to see that the players were actually quite competitive, and it gave us a good feeling to see the audience excitement when someone scored.However, as I have stated, before we would definitely workout the design features and fabrication of the physical further. I especially wish to have more time to experiment with different forms of sensors, since I saw quite some new options presented during the presentations in class. I have primarily learned to experiment more with the options on connecting an idea, and on how to further brainstorm an idea if it seems too complicated to realize. Besides this, I learned to not underestimate the physical part of an interaction lab project, since it ended up being incredibly time-consuming.To wrap it up, I still believe that even though a game can be just a game, having an underlying educative theme below the surface helps introduce certain serious matters, such as the importance of recycling, in a much more entertaining and less obvious way. It is like we do in marketing, surreptitious advertising, where the product, service or idea might be less obvious, but not necessarily less effective. Besides all this, I truly believe that I have gotten a much better understanding not just on coding on Processing and Arduino, or making digital art on Photoshop and Illustrator, but of the meaning of interaction as well. I really enjoyed myself during the interaction lab classes and look forward to continuing further.
Our Project in Video