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This might be in part related to Craig’s post (sorry, I haven’t read it all yet, got caught up with Austin’s and responded, then wanted to post before I forgot to again), but this reminded me of the “arousing emotions is manipulative,” so craft is manipulative. The above video is a review of the upcoming survival game, “I Am Alive.” In the game you play a male protagonist who has just spent the last two weeks (I think, might be months) walking back to your home town on foot after some sort of world shattering disaster in order to locate your girlfriend and son. (Here’s a review from Kotaku)

It’s touted as being a more true-to-possible survival game than any other because, according to the reviewer, unlike normal games where there is generally not only an abundance of save zones, but also weapons, ammunition and health recovery items, those sorts of thing are actually rare commodities that are highly coveted in this game. In fact, like most games, you start off with a gun but no bullets. Unlike most games, you could go the entire first few chapters of this game without ever finding ammunition, but can still use the gun to intimidate “baddies” you run into.

Here’s where it becomes a confusing line between craft and art. The game manipulates you. It manipulates your emotions, and it manipulates you into manipulating non-playable characters into the game as well. It sets up scenes that make you feel dejected, hopeless, helpless and alone, but in a way that is so engaging you don’t want to set it down and do something else. However, by making you aware of situations where you will experience those emotions, it also gives you the opportunity to work through those emotions as you encounter them.

I hope I linked the right video, but if not, the point the reviewer made was that they used a health pack to heal themselves, then a few minutes later ran into a mother and her injured child. He was unable to save the child because he’d used the health pack on himself. He felt helpless and upset that he then had to watch the child succumb to their wounds. Had he spoken further on it, perhaps he could have reflected back on those emotions. Why did he feel badly about not being able to save a stranger? If he had saved the health pack would he have even survived to see the child? Etc.

So I guess my question in regards to Collinwood is then this: Is a game like “I Am Alive” craft because the designers set it up to manipulate our emotions during gameplay? Or can we call it art because they also set it up so we experience it in such a way that we have to explore and reflect on the emotions they expose us to?


Riddle me this: 2 videos, one of them definitely has greater acceptance as Art in the Art World, but I would argue one that it is the other that has a more visceral (ie emotional) impact. How would this fit, or not fit, in Collingwood’s definition of emotion in art?

sorry for the ad before, stupid Vevo

sorry for the quality / recording of video – the subject in question is the video playing in this video

I’ve read Shaowen’s paper on Feminist HCI before – on two different occasions under two different contexts, actually. However, this time around I felt like I “got it” in a different way than before. Perhaps this is because of Interaction Culture, perhaps it’s because I’ve been working on the Etsy project a lot longer since first reading it, or perhaps because as I was reading it this time around I was trying to read it in the context of my capstone.

For those of who you aren’t familiar with my capstone project, I’m focusing on designing a scheduling system for divorced families with children (overview here). In HCI, domestic technology, and CSCW, divorced families have been underrepresented in designs and research. I’d go as far as to say they’ve been pretty much ignored, particularly when you look at the statistics about the number of divorces in the US alone. Divorced families are a marginalized demographic that could benefit from the concepts presented in the Feminist HCI paper.

I knew this going into both my capstone and reading this paper, but I didn’t fully grasp a connection. In preparation for my capstone research I bought a few books on the topics of domestic technology, feminism, and a historical look at feminism per Shaowen’s recommendation; I read parts of them but not very closely. I kind of understood the connection between my capstone and feminist HCI but I didn’t think through it fully. So when I read this paper again, I tried to look at it through the lens of my capstone. Two things really stood out to me: the discussion on marginalized demographics in HCI and the quality of participation.

Shaowen writes, “It would seem that serving existing needs — the traditional approach to HCI — is conservative and perpetuates the status quo.” This quote really stuck out to me. Despite the fact that almost 50% of US marriages end in divorce and 1/3 of children have divorced parents, there were only two articles on HCI and divorce that I could find. There were plenty that focused on a nuclear family, but only two on a topic that affected that large of a population?! Our field is currently perpetuating the status quo, but a status quo that existed years ago when dynamic family structures were taboo. Our society’s view has changed on divorce and as it becomes more prevalent shouldn’t the research shifted as well?

Shaowen also presented a few use qualities, but the quality of participation really stuck out to me. I don’t really remember this from reading it before, or watching her present at CHI (sorry, Shaowen!) but I realized I had been taking this quality and have already put it to use in my research. I’m researching adults and children who are adjusting to a divorced family situation. This is often an emotionally charged and complicated situation for all of the family members – it’s a sensitive subject and, as I try and recruit, I find that most people don’t want to talk about something that is not very pleasant to discuss. I’m using a variation participatory design as one of my methods. Rather than have participants design an ideal system to help manage co-parenting, I’m having participants design the worst possible system ever. My rationale behind this is that I can see key issues in the scheduling process based on what they find to be the worst solutions. I can find these insights without having to ask for personal antidotes that may be difficult or uncomfortable for the participant to discuss. I immediately thought of this when I read the quote, “[O]ngoing participation and dialogue among designers and users can lead to valuable insights that could not be achieved scientifically. A participatory approach is compatible with empathetic user research that avoids the scientific distance that cuts the bonds of humanity between researcher and subject, preempting a major resources for design (empathy, love, care). […] we need to complement [scientific] approaches with participatory processes, especially when considering interaction-related phenomena that are deeply personal and subjective.”

So, there is my example of one the use qualities in action. We’ll see how it works!

We, as a class, have discussed the various effects of different camera angles several times. Camera angles can create many different emotions and affect the viewer in many different ways. I thought it might be helpful to post some of these different camera angles, via photographs of legos, so that we all might better see and understand for ourselves this emotional affect. [Note: all photographs were ‘crafted’ by me with the use of a Macro Lens, artificial light (bounced into a gold reflector to mimic the sun, a small home studio, and a digital camera.]


Lego Men, wide angle, looking down

Wide angle, looking down



Lego Men, wide angle, eye level

Wide angle, eye level



Lego Men, shallow focus, eye level

Shallow focus, 'normal lens angle', eye level



Lego Men, close up

Close up



Lego Men, close up, looking upwards

Close up, looking upwards



Lego Men, close up, looking upwards

Close up, drastic upwards angle



Lego Men, drastic downwards angle

Drastic downwards angle



Lego Men, close up, looking outwards

Close up, normal angle, shallow focus, looking outwards


Can you ‘feel’ the difference that camera angles create? How much does the lego man’s face effect the emotion of the photograph?

In advance of our writing workshop next week on phenomenology and interaction design, I strongly recommend that you try to get through as many readings as possible. In particular, please spend extra attention on the Winograd & Flores piece, which has been extremely influential in our field, in part by explaining phenomenology pretty well as it applies to interaction design. The Preface to Dourish’s book (in Oncourse under Dourish_Preface is extremely short, but he nails the point home unusually succinctly.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) we will talk about The Double Life of Veronique, a film “about longing — deep, internal longing — and the attempt to follow one’s intuition” (Kickasola, p. 244). The essay explores relationships between formalist techniques (like we studied on Thursday, and btw Veronique is by the same director who did Blue: Krzysztof Kieslowski), its bizarre premise of two identical women pursuing their lives in two countries (see the film summary in Kickasola, pp. 242-3, spoiler alert, too bad, read it anyway), and metaphysics. Kickasola writes that the director struggled to find ways to “visualize ‘feelings’ and ‘sensibility.'”

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Maybe, some of you have already seen this movie clip, but for anybody who has not seen yet.

This argument that we need to go beyond usability is persuasive, but I am not sure that it is a good idea that business (marketing) is behind this argument.