Talking about haptic dimension

In the gaming world, things tend to be focused on visual aspects. Take as an example, Virtual Reality (VR) and the investment in visual interferences that evoke immersive reactions. This aspect of feeling that the reality and the virtual is the same can be called as Telepresence. The telepresence is enhanced by media “richness”. However, most of the times, the “touch” or “tactical” sense can be overlooked. Let’s take the 5 senses as a guideline. In games, we have sound, images.. but we don’t have touch, smell and taste. I’m not sure if the technology is yet there to create a smell-tasteful experience in the game, but the touch, yes. And that goes beyond the vibration of the game console while playing the game.

While watching this video from Casual Connect about “Wearable Haptic Feedback” (by Ehren J. Brav), you can understand what I’m talking about.

As Ehren J. Brav shows in the video, the haptic experience is usually used for simulation, but it can also bring information for the player as feedback. And that’s the main point. This device showed in the video is more as a helmet because it can be used for VR experiences. In the game it can also bring another dimension to the player – even to solve challenges in the game. It sounds incredible!

The main point now is that haptic feedback gives another dimension for HCI. It’s not about visual aspects anymore. It’s a combination of senses. Imagine what that could bring for different types of gaming experiences!

Now, imagine haptic situations that you don’t have a wearable. Disney has been researching about 3D haptic experiences with different interfaces. It’s like touching a screen but it has haptic “waves” enhanced by algorithms and lots of different aspects.

The idea of haptic feedback was also explored by another project from Disney in order to improve storytelling, bringing together linguistic and touch. And yet again, no wearable, just a touch screen device, as tablets and mobile phones. This shows that it is possible to transform technology into haptic screen. Why not? Imagine reading an ebook and feeling everything that is in the book just from the touch?

It is time to think. What are the design theories that could be applied into haptic dimensions? How does it vary for each individual? Maybe haptic could be applied in health-related gaming, helping people to overcome diseases? It is possible that the area of health and technology could benefit from those aspects, particularly for people that need treatment. But, yet, it is necessary to understand the types of applications. In the area of education and for young learners, maybe haptic could bring more immersive experiences for students in order to improve their learning experience – why not?

It seems that the combination of gaming structures and immersive technologies for the 5 senses is the main area to be explored. However, we still have a lot to do! What do you think?

References:

Kortum, P. (2008). HCI beyond the GUI: Design for haptic, speech, olfactory, and other nontraditional interfaces. Morgan Kaufmann.

Kim, S. C., Israr, A., & Poupyrev, I. (2013, October). Tactile rendering of 3D features on touch surfaces. In Proceedings of the 26th annual ACM symposium on User interface software and technology (pp. 531-538). ACM.

Israr, A., Zhao, S., Schwalje, K., Klatzky, R., & Lehman, J. (2014). Feel effects: enriching storytelling with haptic feedback. ACM Transactions on Applied Perception (TAP), 11(3), 11.

The golden marriage of research: digital arts and social sciences

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Source: MIDAS website. http://midas.ioe.ac.uk/

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to go the Festival of Research Methods in Oxford and I was very busy trying to find out what sessions to go. Unfortunately I couldn’t go to the MIDAS session and now I know that I missed a very lovely part of it. However, I had the chance to follow some tweets and enter into their website to know more. This post will give a brief explanation of the MIDAS project and why you should fall in love with it too.

Well, if you are researcher in the area of arts, design and social sciences you will love this. Imagine if you could combine innovative methods, experiences, interactive 3D environments to study arts, museums, disabilities, security and so on. That’s MIDAS and it can be gold and I’m not the only one with the same opinion.

 

Essentially, this is a project that investigates methods used in research in arts and social science. MIDAS encompasses visual and contextual resources, based on people’s everyday tasks, through interdisciplinary methods. For that, the investigators decided to analyse 6 ethnographic case studies in arts and social sciences, including aspects of embodied learning experiences, virtual environments, simulation, digital fashion, experience design and other digital resources.

Why this is important?

For researchers in arts and design, MIDAS can be very useful. For example, the project focuses in the combination of body (physical interactions), digital and methods (practices and applications), through something that they call as synergy. Curiously, this is a very innovative way to conduct research and could be also combined to games. They are already using simulations to gather data. :)

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Source: Xambo, Jewitt and Price, 2014

For example, a paper published this year at the CHI2014 conference, reflects the new methodological approach proposed by the researchers of MIDAS. The main concept of it is to understand research embodiment in HCI, which could be divided in to two elements: embodied interaction (e.g. tangible and social computing) and embodied cognition (e.g. the representation of physical experience into abstract situations) (Xambo, Jewitt and Price 2014). The integration of methods provided a wider concept of how the body reacts in terms of interaction and included sensory experiences as tangible materials, textures and so on.

Another example of MIDAS in practice is the development of games of hospitalised children, combining physical, digital play. The project basically integrates interdisciplinary researchers and innovate hospital play, simulating experiences, imaginations and creativity, in order to help children’s recovery. That’s beautiful!

So, no way research methods can be boring. They can be a real passion. And here we go! Time to innovate! :) Thanks, MIDAS!

If you want to know more, read here:
AHRC VideogamesNetwork: Developing videogames and play for hospitalised children
MIDAS at CHI2014
Physical & digital play, developing games for hospitalised children
MIDAS: Case Studies

 
photo credit: intermediae knowledge plan via photopin (license)

Colour blind mode: a way to include more players into the game

Playing a game is more than just connecting your devices with a new system. It’s being part of a context that makes sense, a magical world, full of new experiences, stories, characters and challenges.

The way colour blind people perceive this image

For a game designer, it shouldn’t be different. In the book Rules of Play, the authors Salen and Zimmerman argue that the creation of meaning (and, in that case, a meaningful play) should be the goal of a successful game. So, considering this, the role of the designer is to build significant systems, that will be the encountered by players and then, create experiences.

Now imagine the scenario. You’re a game designer and you have to create a game that is suitable for colour blind people. How would you proceed? And why?

First, it’s known that are lots of levels of colour blindness. People that have this problem can’t perceive the colours very well. As a designers, we could work in a palette of colours that are considered as “safe“. Or there is another process that is adding symbols to each colour, the Coloradd, that tries to translate the colours into forms. Designers can also transform their computer into a colour blind mode, using tools like ColorOracle, that create a simulation of the environment.
However, is that possible to create a colour blind mode to a game and not compromise the system?
Well, Supermagical is a game that tried to do this. Created by a japanese company called Gala Pocket, the story is about Nina (a cute witch) and her evil sisters, living in the world full of magic and colourful monsters. The mechanics of the game are a mixture of different worlds (levels) and matching colours. It seems fun, right? More than that.
Supermagical is a game full of surprises and the best one was the color blind mode. But how did they manage that? The game uses aspects of the default interface, adding icons for colour blind (as the gameplay is like “matching colours and elements”). With that, the gameplay basis is not affected.

default version

However the experience might be still different. For players that see colours without any problem, this is just colour matching. But, for players that are colour blind, the basics is matching icons. The initiative is good, because it includes more people into the gameplay, transforming them into participants of this magical world. The aspect of “inclusion” is part of the meaningful experience. Why? Because the game can understand people’s skills and limits and can also create an environment that matches the player’s context.

 

version for colour blind

This is why a meaningful gameplay should take as principle not only rules, environment, culture, structure, mechanics and design elements. It should concentrate also in the skills of the player. This is what we call as “flow”. Flow is a concept very used in games, as an aspect of success or well designed gameplay experience, when you “lose time” or “forget to eat, because it’s so immersed into the game”. What we know too is that flow it’s the relationship between challenges and skills of the player, where everything should be balanced.

So, is Supermagical a good case of games for colour blind? Let’s say that yes, it is. At some point it includes more people to the game but some aspects are still not the same (e.g. inclusion of symbols). And maybe it won’t be. Who knows? Perhaps it should be different anyway. What we can see is that this is a good case study of games that encompasses more people and this concept should be adopted by games designers in the whole world. Just because playing together is more fun!

Further reading
Why games need color blind modes – see SimCity with simulated color blindness
Flow in games
Why all designers need to understand color blindness
Tips for Designing for Colorblind Users

What I’ve learnt from my first Cool Hunting Project

Cool what? Being cool is more than being trendy. It’s about transformation and life. We can find it in the streets, smiles, colors, cultures, technology, expressions, science, movies, expositions, behaviour and experiences.

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A cool hunter must be curious

It’s important to ask questions, talk to people and try to understand the environment where people live, and how people interact in the society.

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A cool hunter is a player

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Researching is the best part of the ‘hunting’. Everything is new. Actually there is always something different in the planet, in the street, in a new store right up the corner.

Know more about my experiences here!

This work is an outcome of the course I took in march, 2012, at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design.