The Dating Game

Tyra D’Costa | Ola Soszynski | Samantha Sylvester

The Dating game is indented to be an interactive storytelling table top interface. Our inspiration came from the short story “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian that recently went virally after being published in the New York Times. We wanted to mold Roupenian’s short story into what we recognized as the dreaded, and inevitable stages of dating of in today’s day and age. The work that we have creates is meant to discuss the drastically changing landscape of romance in the 21st century in comparison to the age old sexual motivators found in human nature.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE SHORT STORY THAT INSPIRED THE WORK

How it Works

The Board itself is connected to an Arduino UNO and MAXUINO, it has eight wired buttons and two conductive switches that can be activated by touch. When activated in order the buttons tell a story through audio and visual assets that we created with After Effects and Audition. In between the video sequences the user will be prompted to make decisions about the story and characters, however regardless of what they choose the story will end the same way. The user interaction is intended to reflect the frustrated, sometimes powerless feeling that Roupenian’s main character Margot feels in the short story “Cat Person”.

Our Process

Materials:

  • Copper tape
  • 8 sensors(button, sound, mic, pressure, etc)
  • Speaker
  • Thin Plate of Wood

Equipment:

  • Projector
  • Arduino Uno
  • Soldering iron
  • Speakers

Software Used:

  • Adobe Premiere
  • Arduino
  • Maxuino
  • Touchdesigner
  • Adobe Illustrator

1.         Brainstorming

We came up with a lot of ideas, and potential topics to explore by simply making a flowchart to help interrogate various elements of the UX/UI design. One of the main things we wanted to be part of the experience was the ability for the user to leave input.

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2.         Voice Acting and Recording

Ola was able to take the original narrative and construct a new script that was simplified and more compatible with the aims of our project. Using the new and improved script we headed to the recording studio where we worked together to record the voice over narration. Next, we made a list of background sounds we wanted add to the background narration and we recorded those too. Sam took the raw audio files and mixed them together to create 8 separate audio tracks for the final output.

BEHIND THE SCENES FOOTAGE

3.         Visuals and Animation

Ola worked in After Effects to create 8 individual animation files that would play with the push of the buttons. However, all of the files were corrupted and the work was lost resulting in a very frustrated Ola. Luckily, Sam came up with the idea of using colors rather than visual scenarios to communicate the ideas and emotions in the story. Together Ola and Sam did some research on Color Theory and applied the knowledge to the visual element of the project.

 

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4.         Technical Work

Tyra put together the user experience design framework and the Max patches required to activate the functionality of the board. Tyra began by laying out the exact flow and structure of the user experience via pen and paper sketch wire framing. The process began with designing the layout of the board itself, as well as the content and syntax of prompted user interactions. The main Max patch consists of eight buttons that open and play media files when activated, each button has a different video and sound that becomes part of the overall story. Within the main patch is a sub patch, this sub patch is connected to the ‘swipe left’ and ‘swipe right’ feature of the board that makes it interactive.

The sub patch is responsible for opening and playing video files from a two separate lists. When the user is prompted they will have to choose to ‘swipe left’ or ‘swipe right’, whatever they choose will activate the next video file from the corresponding list. At the same time, the sub patch will eliminate the video file that was not played because it was not chosen by the user. This was an attempt to sequence the movie files and make sure they only play given the right conditions. However, the interactive functionality of this project was not developed as well as it could have been. Unfortunately, the Max subscription Tyra was using was unlicensed and ran out before she could debug the problem with the sub patch. Overall, the sub patch does achieve its base function of movie sequencing, however it does not eliminate the unselected video files which is necessary to maintain the syntax of the story progression.

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5.         Rapid Prototyping

Tyra  designed the physical board that holds the electronic components using Illustrator and a Laser Cutter from the Rapid Prototyping Center. Ola designed the circuit and put it all together. 

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6.         Putting it all together

Together we integrated the circuit into the physical prototype board, then we plugged in the Arduino and connected to the Max patcher. Finally, we hooked up the projector and speakers so that the visual and audio experience could be shifted from the centrality of screen to the openness of the physical world.

Reflection

The story takes place over time, but is told over the course of a few button presses from the user, filling and concentrating the space with feelings of nostalgia, relatability and humour. Through these fragmented experiences the interpretation of the work can vary from view point to view point making each interaction with the space unique. For example, someone who relates to the story might understand the place in which it is situated as somewhere where they belong and feel heard. Whereas, someone who is confused or puzzled by the story might interpret the space as a distant, maybe even emotionally attacking.

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