Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Innovative Interaction Concepts - part 6: M-Point

This is the sixth and final post in a series describing student presentations that we were invited to see and comment during the II City project meeting.

The final presentation was given by Eszter Nagy and Riikka Jefremoff. Their idea was to connect two places, two groups of people and two different ways of interaction together to form a whole, that would improve communication and entertain people. In their example, in one place people would use their hands to interact with a screen while in the other, they would use their feet. What could follow is a cooperative game, where people form pairs (one person using hands, the other feet) and play against other teams. Eszter and Riikka had already done game concept thinking on their own, and the ones we discussed were all quite potential, but we will leave them in favor of some more abstract discussion.

The central idea that I think is present here, is the idea of non-verbal communication. People can only communicate with the other group via the interface. How can you suggest someone else (who you don't even know, you've only ever seen their hands or feet!) what to do by using just your hands to make gestures? What about with your feet? It would actually be an interesting social experiment to use this kind of concept and set some cooperative problem solving task for the test groups and see what kinds of ways to communicate they could come up with.

What about game design then, what kinds of ideas we can come up with based on this idea? First and foremost, I feel this idea has some really direct cooperation - two people are both doing their share of a common task. Of course, the lack of verbal communication is the challenge that is present in this particular concept, and because you don't even know who you are playing with, there is no way to achieve verbal communication that I can think of. It is an interesting variation to typical cooperative games where verbal communication channels are available (and in online games, you can usually use an external program for voice communication if playing with people you know).

While I'm writing this, I'm constantly coming up with mental connections to Francesca and Sami's Sphaere. In a way, M-Point is about expressing your presence via the system into another place, whereas Sphaere was about expressing your presence temporally to future visitors on the same site. In Eszter and Riikka's presentation, M-Point puts more emphasis on having fun, and attracting people to play together for example in an airport terminal while waiting for a flight to leave (the point of Sphaere you can read in part 4 of this post series). But of course, combining both ideas would be very possible, and M-Point is indeed in a way about reaching out to others just differently.

For this same reason, I have a little less to say on M-Point, because I already discussed how games can break the ice on social situations in the post about Sphaere. The idea behind M-Point is basically exactly this. Of course, an additional cool thing about M-Point is that after playing it, I can say "I just played this game with some guy from Paris, and only thing I know about him are the shape and size of his feet", which is in some way kind of amazing thing to say I think. At least it will get people curious if nothing else. So thanks to Eszter and Riikka, we had another interesting lesson in communication and advantages of games. Much like Sphaere, the M-Point also contains ideas that I hope to work with in the future as part of the II City project.

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