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  • Major Claim: That Video Game Controllers designed for people with physical disabilities should be more aesthetically pleasing.

o   Currently we live in a world that is difficult for people with physical disabilities to play video games.

  • There are few solutions
    • List & Describe some of the solutions
  • There are only a few companies that actually make video game controllers.
    • These company’s offerings tend to be very similar in form factor and aesthetics to the first-party controller.

o   Video Game Controllers are more than just invisible ergonomic devices

  • Aesthetics and Desires matter and are very important.
  • “At this juncture, we want to emphasize that with any of the preceding approaches, there are problems with focusing too heavily on need as key human motivation for change or innovation. Need implies that the desired situation is clearly understood, and that the real state of affairs, which is clearly understood, is an undesired one.”
  • “Our understanding of motivation, triggered by what we believe to be desirable—in other words, desiderata assessment—as opposed to what we need, remains remarkably underdeveloped.”
  • Kari Kuti’s triple mediatedness of artefacts

o   A Video game controller that is aesthetically pleasing is the Razer Sabertooth controller

  • Noel Carroll’s Framework
  • Look at Aesthetics of video game controllers through Sensual-phenomenological, Conceptual-hermeneutical, Contextual-discursive,

o   Accessible video game controllers are not aesthetically pleasing and focus on functionality.

  • This follows a trend set by other accessibility devices where they are focused on functionality and ignore the aesthetic values of the artifact.

o   Aesthetic accessibility video game controllers can lead to inclusivity in video gaming.

  • Our ability to communicate our shared experiences with others allows us to form tighter social bonds
    • Engestrom’s activity system model has the triangle mediated by subject, object, and community.

o   This includes, rules, people, tools, and the division of labor leading to an outcome.

  • Enjoyment of video games
  • “In short, we are collectively asking what it means to live in this electronic world we are creating, whether this world reflects our values, who is entering into this world that we are designing and whom we are living behind. These questions are at least as philosophical as they are technological.”

o   I have shown that video games controllers need to be more aesthetically pleasing and that it is desirable that we should live in a world that has these aesthetic video game controllers.

  • What I have done here can also be used to evaluate other technologies and artifacts that are designed for people with physical disabilities and there is a wider conversation that needs to be had.

 

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Jeff’s last class had me reflecting on how my capstone has touched and shaped me. Over the course of this semester I have noticed more and more accessibility devices that focus only on the functionality aesthetic. This class has increasingly given me a harsh look on the technologies available to people with disabilities. I’ve taken this harsh look because these technologies separate people who do not ‘need’ these technologies from those that do. If these technologies were more desirable, perhaps they would not even be viewed as technologies for the disabled, but just good design that works well for people with disabilities? Even so, there some technologies that most people without a specific disability may never need. For example a prosthetic leg. This harsh look which will be evident in my paper as I use video game controllers as a lens to focus on this idea. Before this capstone and interaction culture I did not have these thoughts and it feels very fresh bit also very daunting at the same time. I’m not really where to with this blog post at the moment and I may come back to it later.

It is my intent to start the bulk of my pre-write this Sunday for my paper. I have been pondering about the idea for my paper for a bit of time and I keep circling back to the idea of aesthetics and accessibility designs. I remember when it first entered my mind when I argued in front of Eli that the collection of accessibility-minded video game controllers were aesthetically ugly. He challenged me on that idea and I couldn’t think of answer on the spot. This thought has gone through numerous different ideas where at one point I was questioning whether it was ethical to design a one-handed video game controller. I have been looking at one other designers have designing in this space, including the post Zan made earlier on Facebook and Scott’s Prosthesis legs. However while I feel I could be looking harder, I haven’t found many other examples that are beyond a “utilitarian focus.” So it may be a direction on my final paper. However, a working prejudice I have working in my head is that aesthetics in accessibility design beyond utilitarian are desirable and improve the well-being of both the people with disabilities and those who interact with them.  I’m not certain yet where video game controllers will fit into this argument, but these are some of my thoughts at the moment. . .

Earlier this week, Oculus VR, a company that has been producing Virtual Reality headsets to developers and other enthusiasts with the intent to release it to the public at a later date announced it would get purchased by Facebook. Many people on the internet have expressed their displeasure of Facebook purchasing Oculus. I want to take a brief look at these things through the lens of semiotics, focusing on the form of Kickstarter and how it influenced these behaviors.  I don’t have an Oculus Rift.

Two years ago, Oculus allowed individuals to support the company by engaging in a Kickstarter. Kickstarter is an interesting design because of the relationship that forms as a result between the the individual or company requesting money and the the person contributing money. This forms the Kickstarter address and its form. Kickstarter’s design has an interesting addressee. The addressee for Kickstarter are these individuals who want to support visions and want to make changes to their world by contributing money and effort. While choosing to purchase a product at a store also supports the company in a similar way. The key difference between these two examples is that the Kickstarter’s design highlights this support and vision-making. Kickstarter Backers have bought into this vision that the individual or company is proposing.

Kickstarter has several design features that allow its form to support this distinct relationship. First and the most important is forcing the creator to create a video for their proposal. These video tend to have the individuals speaking to the viewer and arguing on why they should support their cause. One could go deeper into the semiotics of just Kickstarter videos. Another form that kickstarters tend to have are updates. Creators can create updates throughout the duration the campaign which encourages a dialog between the backers and the creator as the project moves forward. As I mentioned, there is also a duration aspect to kickstarter which encourages a sense of urgency to both the backers and the creator. If they don’t make the money in the amount of time, they will not receive any of it and their vision will not succeed. Another aspect of the form of the Kickstarter is that the total amount of money is displayed publicly to the world. It creates excitement by allowing users see how they get closer and closer to their goals by putting the current amount just above the amount that is being requested. Finally, Oculus announced its kickstarter in a time period of huge excitement for Kickstarter. To many at the time, Kickstarter was very novel and this created a strong excitement around this device.

 

Originally, I was going to talk about the other aspects of this through the Semiotics lens, but this blog post is getting a little long so I might do another blog post later.

In this post I want to talk about tabletop roleplaying games, referred to as tabletop outside of this paragraph, such as Dungeons and Dragons being one example. These games, while loosely defined, tend to be games where you have several people each playing a character and there is another participant acting as the Game Master (GM). These are different from board games in the way that board games tend to not involve playing as a character and board games tend to be games that are played in single sittings, although there are outliers to this and this is a working definition. I also want to exclude War Games, like MechWarrior Miniatures and Warhammer 40K, even though these games were originally inspired by such games.  These are also not video games either because video games are mediated by a console and tend to not have a GM.  Also video games do not have to be social experiences, but Tabletop Games almost do.

I would argue that these games provide a unique experience that is very different from the examples I have said that it is not as well as other examples. These games can provide a wealth of good participatory storytelling that allows for everyone to engage in the creation and can be very fun. It is because of this powerful narrative freedom that tabletop games can be very liberating.

With that said, Tabletop Games tend to have this negative stigma associated with them. That they are only for the stereotypical geek or nerd. This is wrong though. I believe tabletop games are for anyone who wants to experience participatory storytelling. With that said, the cultural artifacts associated with Tabletop games tend to favor that nerdish stereotype.  The books tend to be thick and the rules arcane and dense. Dungeons and Dragons which is by far the most popular of these games tend to favor combat and violent solutions heavily as emphasized by the complexity of the rules, options that are available, and the design of the character sheets themselves. This is very different from video games, which at one point were considered nerdish and/or childish, but in some respects have escaped some of the trappings and are more socially acceptable than Dungeons and Dragons is. I tend to avoid playing Dungeons and Dragons, particularly with new players, but it is still a problem with other games too.

And yet after all of that, if I, as a person who would like to see people playing more of these games, can get people over that barrier then they have always admitted to having fun. Occasionally, people who are completely unfamiliar with the game and the story up to this point will sit and listen in even if they are not players or GMing. It’s a design problem and a hard one. How do you maintain the intricacy to allow the creation of interesting characters and yet make it simple enough that new people can enjoy it as well? Not sure about that one, but maybe one day.

Here is my collection of different input devices that I felt were interesting for Thursday’s class. For most of these picture you’ll see my right hand using them and how they are used by me. The only three that are not are the Xbox Kinect, and the one-handed video game controller in the bottom left as I don’t own these input devices. You won’t see my hand on the microphone either, since that uses voice input.

Xbox-360-Kinect-Standalone

Xbox Kinect

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Microphone

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Nintendo 64 Controller

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QWERTY Keyboard

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Nintendo Gamecube Controller

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Nintendo Wii Controller & NunChuck

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Wii Controller

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Xbox 360 Controller

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Late 90’s Early 00’s Joystick

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Super Nintendo Controller

one-hand-controller500

One-Handed Video Game Controller for PS2

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8-button mouse

Recently Jeffrey Bardzell created a blog post entitled, “Roy’s Coca-Cola and Critical Design” and like Andy Warhol, created a Brillo Box, Jeff posed the question could a blog post be art. First, allow me to elaborate, Jeff created a blog post with two interesting perceptual difference between Roy’s earlier blog post, Coca-cola and Critical Design  The first change is that in Jeff’s Post he has has changed title adding Roy’s name to the front of it and changing the “c” in cola to a capital letter, and the second –  and arguably more interesting  – is that Jeff has changed the category from Humor to “This Post Is Itself A Work Of Art“. Danto argued

But that was Warhol’s marvelous question: Why was Brillo Box a work off art when ordinary boxes of Brillo were merely boxes of Brillo?

In a similar way, Jeffrey has called attention to his post, defining it as art and raising the question can a blog post be art and are other blog posts made in this blog art as well?

As Danto argued with Andy Warhol, I will too argue that Jeff’s blog post, “causes reflection on what makes it art, when this will not be something that meets the eye just as the film demonstrates how little is required for something that meets the eye.” Interestingly enough however, Danto argues that,

“Warhol’s way was clearly a via negativia. He did not tell us what art was. But opened the way for those whose business it is to provide positive philosophical theories to last address the subject.”

Finally, I would argue that this is where a difference lies between Andy and Jeff. Unlike Andy, who as Danto argues, did not classify his Brillo Box as art, Jeff clearly has categorized his post as art and this represents another philosophical joke within the context of this blog that is commenting on both Andy Warhol’s Brillo Box and Roy’s Coca-cola and Critical Design. This makes it in a way similar to Brillo Box because it poses these questions to ask the reader.

 

 

Coca-Cola Machine

One of the new Pop dispenser machines

Recently, I visited a restaurant that had these new Coca-cola machines and I feel that this is a great example of Dunn and Raby discuss in their map of unreality paper. Certainly this artifact is a product design, but I would also argue that it does not challenge Dunn and Raby’s notion of Commodified Imagination. Dunn and Raby state:

 

. . . but it is usually focused on aesthetic, communicative, and functional possibilities for new media rather than visions for how life could be, and mainly take the form of digital craft rather than future speculatio

ns.

I would say most would argue that these machines are more aesthetically pleasing than the older models. I feel it has retro-futurism vibe to it with it’s bright red exterior and the round oval hole where one put his or her cup to fill.

With that said This design doesn’t raise the question if we should drink more pop, or even a health

ier world. Instead, borrows the retro-futurism design language and unlike many retro-futurism ideas and designs, this design doesn’t imagine a better utopia from which we can live in. Instead, its design encourages the drinking a wider variety and more pop.

Writing has always been a funny thing with me. In high school and some in undergrad I wrote a lot. Stories mostly and not good ones. So I won’t be posting any juicy bits here. However, there are a few things I will talk about to. When I write things, I tend to just write without thinking in order to silence that inner critic of mine. Of course I know that the words I’m writing here will be terrible, but that’s what revision is for. For example, I’ve been thinking about writing a haiku for this class and posting it here. My first draft that I just wrote is here:

Interaction Culture Haiku

Gather in Green Room

Argue Art, Design, and Culture

Fear of CHI paper

 

The form of the Haiku is structured so that it must have five syllables on the first line, seven on the second, and five on the third. Now this Haiku isn’t that great. It lacks evocative meanings for me and it only follows the form. It also tends to tell more than show; so how can we fix this? Well, I think the second line needs to be reworked can we find a more passionate word instead of “Argue.” Maybe we should make it more warlike. Certainly, we had very strong opinions on the Cross readings. Maybe the poem should be about that? You could make some interesting puns on Cross too.

Cross looks cross the room . . . not long enough and too bouncy

Cross look over sorcerous design – too long. . .

Cross looks of Design Sorcery . . .I think I will stick with this for now. I feel it’s more impactful and has that double meaning plus probably a few others as well, referencing Cross on that designer who exclaimed that he did magic.

I’m also not fond of the last phrase in this haiku it’s too bland and not exciting. With the second sentence in place, it also doesn’t make much sense now. So what can we place in its place that would also fit as a nice conclusion. So what would be a good replacement. . .

Jeff calms the class . . .eh just not feeling this one.

Words lead to insights . . .  I like this one. It seems to fit my idea of the tone of the poem better now.

Finally, can we also change the first sentence too? I think I can replace Room and Gather with better words.

Discordant Green Room . .  this one could work, but what about room and since we have lost gather does that lose its meaning?

Corner? That wouldn’t work, because it’s too many syllables

Hole? Sure why not. So this draft of this Haiku is

Interaction Culture Haiku

Discordant Green Hole

Cross looks of Design Sorcery

Words lead to insights

 

Now I think I wanted to write a Haiku to go through my writing process and show how for me its an itterative process. With all that said, I really did appreciate several of Jeff’s tips about writing, particularly the ones about boiling things down into claims. I hadn’t thought about writing in that way before and I think it could be a very good mindset to think about it when writing.

 

For me it’s always interesting to revisit past passages that I have read in the past. I read Jeff’s commentary on Tractinsky last year in Foundations. As I read this paper for the second time, I revisited what I thought was important at the time. I underlined different definitions and other important points I must have found important at the time. In my memory, I remember being struck by Jeff’s argument about how Tractinsky didn’t stick to his dictionary definition and how Jeff articulated his critique of Tractinsky, focusing on the information processing theory.

This time, I’m more drawn to the ending of the paper where Jeff mentions

But given that we are in HCI and interaction design, it would seem that interactive, rather than visual, aesthetics would be the target.

I found this interesting primarily because for as much as we have talked about aesthetics in this course it is usually in the context of other domains, such as architecture, film, literature, and etc. Maybe this is me thinking at this moment, but I have tended to think about aesthetics within those previous contexts, but not interaction. Certainly, I have thought about this is a good interaction and this is a bad interaction, but it’s not something I would use in the same word as aesthetics in the same meaning as a film aesthetic. I’m not sure where I’m going with this thought, but I know that this aspect is certainly different from what we have previous read. I’m interested in exploring this area further and while the paper does hint at. It is only towards the end of the commentary that Jeff discusses interactive aesthetics briefly in 19.5.6.3, where Jeff mentions three research themes: medium-specific theories of interactive aesthetics, design and research methodologies, and specific aesthetic design domains.