Syllabus: Interaction & Service Design Concepts Principles, Perspectives, and Practices

Prof. Molly Wright Steenson (Carnegie Mellon School of Design) has published the syllabus for her Interaction & Service Design class (Fall 2015).  According to the introduction:

What is interaction, what is design, where did these notions come from, and where are they going? Our seminar explores principles, practices, and practices that undergird interaction and service design and beyond. We will explore the underlying principles of design, examine themes from a variety of perspectives, and consider the effects of both on different practices. Through this grounding, you will return to questions of what kind of designer you are and wish to be, what you believe in, and how that will extend to your research and practice.

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Survivance: An Indigenous Social Impact Game

The abstract – Social impact games are on the rise as a means of encouraging social change through gameplay. This dissertation describes the outcomes of playing Survivance ( — an Indigenous social impact game that honors storytelling, art, and self-determination as pathways to healing from historical trauma caused by colonization in Turtle Island (North America).

The research addresses a gap in studies that specifically explore the impact of social impact games while uniquely merging Indigenous and Game Studies scholarship. The study focuses on gameplay spread over one year involving ten core players and three validation players. The players are from the urban Indigenous community in Portland, Oregon in the United States of America, where Survivance was developed collaboratively with the non-profit organization Wisdom of the Elders, Inc. as an extension of its multimedia health and wellness curriculum Discovering Our Story. Thus, this research is positioned within Indigenous ways of knowing. It is informed by biskaabiiyang methodology, an Anishinaabe approach of “returning to ourselves.”

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Super Mario Bros World 1.1: explaining game and experience design

In this video by Eurogamer, Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto explains the design philosophy behind Super Mario Bros World 1.1. Often considered as one of the greatest example of level design, it “gradually and invisibly teaching the player what they should be doing and how they should be doing it. Ideas are introduced in a safe space, and then the safety nets are removed so the player can put those lessons into action before the challenges become more complex”.

Found on Polygon.

Old telephone with rotary dial

Human Factors Engineering Studies of the Design and Use of Pushbutton Telephone Sets

In a recent post on Data Genetics blog, the author writes: “Have you ever thought “Why are the numbers on a telephone keypad arranged the way they are? Why are they arranged in a 3×3 grid with the zero below? How did this layout become a standard? Why is this layout subtly different to the way the numbers are arranged on a calculator or numeric keypad? What other layouts were considered? The answers to these questions can be found in a fascinating piece of research performed by AT&T in 1960.


The article was entitled: Human Factors Engineering Studies of the Design and Use of Pushbutton Telephone Sets […] This classical piece of research covers four aspects of the keypad design: Key arrangement, Force displacement characteristics, Button top design, and Central office factors. The outcome of this research project and testing is the keypad we know today. In my blog posting I’m going to summarize just the results the key arrangements. For details of the other criteria and decisions refer to the article.”

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Magnetic fields to send data through the human body

Magnetic fields to send data through the human body

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, are working on a technology that uses human body as a communication medium as a safer alternative to Bluetooth for wearable gadgets. According to Patrick Mercier – assistant professor at UCSD and co-director of its Center for Wearable Sensors – Bluetooth radios are not that great at transferring data when there’s a body in the way requiring more power while this doesn’t apply to magnetic fields.

Read more on MIT Technology Review.

survival shooter game

Time Pressure As Video Game Design Element And Basic Need Satisfaction

Abstract – Over the last few decades, with the help of technological advancements in computational power and improvements in interaction design, video games have been prominent instruments for entertainment. With increasing number of players, researchers mainly have focused on revealing underlying psychological reasons behind gaming. By applying Self-Determination Theory (SDT) in gaming context, it is concluded that satisfactions of three basic intrinsic needs, namely, autonomy, competence and relatedness, are the predictors of motivation to play video games.

However, only a few studies focused on game features supporting each of these three basic needs. Game developers might make use of the discovery of the specific game features contributing specific need satisfactions while designing games in which motivation and engagement are ensured.

In this thesis, the relations between time pressure which is one of the commonly used game design element and autonomy and competence need satisfactions are observed. In an experimental design, time pressure is manipulated to establish two conditions (no time pressure in control group and time pressure in experimental group) by implementing countdown mechanics in a 3D survival shooting game. Mediating effects of autonomy and competence on the associations between time pressure and intrinsic motivation, flow, engagement, performance and enjoyment are also observed.

Results showed that, although there was a significant difference in perceived time pressure of players, no significant differences were found in autonomy and competence need satisfactions between two conditions. Similarly, no differences in intrinsic motivation, engagement, performance and enjoyment between two conditions were revealed. The only significant difference was found in flow between iv control and experimental conditions such that the participants in the experimental condition experienced more flow than those in the control condition. However, there were significant differences in flow and engagement among a subgroup of experimental condition, who failed to complete the goal in the game in the specified time limit, and other subgroups (both in control and experimental groups) who successfully completed the game in the given time. Competence and performance decreased with the increase in perceived time pressure within experimental group but the differences did not reach significance. On the other hand, flow and engagement were enhanced with the increase in perceived time pressure.

These findings give us the idea that there may be an optimal time limit in which autonomy and competence are maximized and positively correlated, and thus intrinsic motivation, flow, engagement, performance and enjoyment are promoted throughout game play

Download the full thesis.

Yıldırım, Irem Gökçe Time Pressure As Video Game Design Element And Basic Need Satisfaction, MSc Thesis, Department of Modeling and Simulation Supervisor, August 2015, 57 pages

A literature review of gamification design frameworks

A literature review of gamification design frameworks

Abstract – This paper presents a review of the literature on gamification design frameworks. Gamification, understood as the use of game design elements in other contexts for the purpose of engagement, has become a hot topic in the recent years. However, there’s also a cautionary tale to be extracted from Gartner’s reports on the topic: many gamification-based solutions fail because, mostly, they have been created on a whim, or mixing bits and pieces from game components, without a clear and formal design process. The application of a definite design framework aims to be a path to success. Therefore, before starting the gamification of a process, it is very important to know which frameworks or methods exist and their main characteristics. The present review synthesizes the process of gamification design for a successful engagement experience. This review categorizes existing approaches and provides an assessment of their main features, which may prove invaluable to developers of gamified solutions at different levels and scopes.

Download the full paper.

Alberto Mora, Daniel Riera, Carina Gonzalez,  Joan Arnedo-Moreno, “A literature review of gamification design frameworks”, Conference paper, September 2015

No Reciprocity in “Liking” Photos: Analyzing Like Activities in Instagram

No Reciprocity in “Liking” Photos: Analyzing Like Activities in Instagram

From the abstract: “In social media, people often press a “Like” button to indicate their shared interest in a particular content or to acknowledge the user who posted the content. Such activities form relationships and networks among people, raising interesting questions about their unique characteristics and implications. However, little research has investigated such Likes as a main study focus. To address this lack of understanding, based on a theoretical framework, we present an analysis of the structural, influential, and contextual aspects of Like activities from the test datasets of 20 million users and their 2 billion Like activities in Instagram. Our study results first highlight that Like activities and networks increase exponentially, and are formed and developed by one’s friends and many random users. Second, we observe that five other essential Instagram elements influence the number of Likes to different extents, but following others will not necessarily increase the number of Likes that one receives. Third, we explore the relationship between LDA-based topics and Likes, characterize two user groups-specialists and generalists-and show that specialists tend to receive more Likes and promote themselves more than generalists. We finally discuss theoretical and practical implications and future research directions.”

Found on ACM Digital Library.

Download the full paper.

Jin Yea Jang, Kyungsik Han, Dongwon Lee , “No Reciprocity in “Liking” Photos: Analyzing Like Activities in Instagram”, Proceeding HT ’15 Proceedings of the 26th ACM Conference on Hypertext & Social Media, Pages 273-282


Architecture of Radio: discover the hidden world of digital networks

Created by Richard Vijgen, the Architecture of Radio is an iPad application conceived to visualize the network of networks “by reversing the ambient nature of the infosphere; hiding the visible while revealing the invisible technological landscape we interact with through our devices”. The app relies on GPS to get the user’s location and finds the cell towers that are within reach from OpenCellID. Then, it calculates the position of overhead Satellites based on JPL’s Ephemeris data.
Find out more on the project page.
Micro-Gesture Interaction on the Gear Shift

Micro-Gesture Interaction on the Gear Shift

From the abstract: “Modern cars offer a wide variety of infotainment functionality, including music players, navigation systems and full-featured internet access. Traditional interaction methods using buttons and knobs have long reached their limits and the frequently used touch screens require the drivers visual attention reducing driving safety. Gestural interaction is a promising solution to cope with the complexity of modern in-vehicle information systems with less distraction. To further explore this idea, micro-gesture interaction on the gear shift is investigated in this thesis.

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