We’re Sarah and Tash, bringing you the Fast Five on our 16th July Curious agency talk with PAN. What’s the Fast Five? It’s the five top-line takeaways about the tech we saw from Thursday’s talk.
This week’s fast five is going to work a little differently, as we found our chat with Ben Barker revolved around an important theme. PAN make playable environments, working in the intersection of immersive theatre, interactive systems, installation art, and game design. Their portfolio is delightful and varied, held together with a clever way of thinking: pay as much detail to what you’re creating as to what you don’t have to create. Or, in other words, create only what you have to to get the most out of your creative.
Why is this so important? Best to explain by talking about five different paths to thinking resourcefully about creative experience design.
1. Think about how you can use the resources your target already has. Sure, PAN have built a number of physical installations and created objects people that people could never own themselves (see: Selphie or Time Machine). But their projects that have been aimed at a wider audience typically have run through people’s mobile phones (which we’ll discuss more in a second), reducing barriers to interaction. The thinking’s dead simple here: while building from scratch leads to bespoke creative, building for ownership allows your creative to more easily diffuse.
2. Take into account digital platforms/infrastructure already in place. One of the things we liked most about Hello Lamp Post (and there’s so much to like!) is that it runs through SMS. Rather than building an app to enable interactions with the real world, PAN used a platform that’s on nearly every mobile device. This could just as easily run through Twitter, which wouldn’t have been bad per say but would have cut off everyone without a smart phone from the get go. The choice to use SMS comes with trade offs – lack of a public footprint, for instance – but given the project’s aims the choice to use this function instead of a social platform or custom build paved a way for easier adoption.
3. See if there are existing systems that you can use for another purpose. Where PAN’s work gets particularly exciting is when they hijack systems for their own creative purpose. Tracking codes became a way to sort and communicate with public objects; physical maps a system for navigating through a choose-your-own-adventure style storytelling experience or playing a real-world running version of Risk. In a sense, someone else has already done a lot of the organization and filing for you, and you’re able to layer on creative as you see fit.
4. Use or play off of existing semiotics instead of creating your own. This is nearly the inverse to the previous point. When you do build things from scratch, using symbols that are already adopted can make it easier to get your point across. Simple case: creating a physical representation of hashtag use in real time that used blinds to make a bar graph. In fact, this type of approach encompasses a number of wide-penetrating “new” symbols in the digital age, from emoticons that play off facial expressions to the “like” function on Facebook. Which brings us to our final path:
5. Consider how to integrate existing interpersonal “systems” of interaction. Our last point is primarily a matter of phrasing, but can dramatically impact a user’s experience. Hello Lamppost positions interactions as conversations. Run an Empire translates exercise into a strategy game with player-to-player competition. These are very different types of personal interactions, but both are familiar, using constructs people already know to invite new users in. Thus, even though it’s a novel sort of interaction, users enter into a well-known premise, priming them to behave in certain way while simultaneously reducing the feeling that something is alien and new.
The moral of this Fast Five – build only if you have to – should be taken with a grain of salt. In all projects, concept and design become a question of priorities. But in many cases, thinking hard about what’s already at your disposal will aid in producing approachable, accessible, and delightful work.
Curious about what else you might’ve missed? Reach out to someone involved in Curious and be sure to watch out for the last Fast Five of this season following our Curious Session on 30th July with Design Swarm.
The post Fast Five: PAN appeared first on VCCP.