Critical Design

March 25, 2013

Find an object made as critical design. Post a picture of it in the comments of this post and do a 5 minute presentation on it.  Talk about what statement the designer is making.

Thinking about fun

February 9, 2013

This week in class we talked about what makes something fun and observed some of the behaviours that indicate fun is being had.

Some of the key elements we discussed are summarized here. The key to these elements is reward. We find these elements reward us in some way. Compare this list with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and see where it overlaps.

This is not an exhaustive list!

Challenge is fun when it is appropriately difficult. Too easy and we lose interest, or describe it as something for kids. Too hard and we get frustrated and want to give up.

Being able to gain skill and watch yourself improve.

Social Experience:
Playing together is fun. We saw this in the encouraging and heckling behaviour of our players.

Related to the social experience, competition is fun because it engages with the other players but also facilitates displaying mastery and sharing skills.

Planning and executing actions, anticipating responses (of games, other players, the world), interpreting results are all rewarding particularly when they succeed but even if they fail because they are learning opportunities to increase your skill level.

Pushing boundaries and testing the rules opens up another level of play.

Comedy is fun. Jokes, pranks etc all fall into this category.

Low Barriers:
Things that are intimidating can have the same problems as things that are too difficult. They can put people off. Like high difficulty, it is possible to push through and get past it. But things like setting, background and tone can do a lot to make an experience less intimidating.

Immersion in another world, being someone else, trying things you couldn’t or wouldn’t in other circumstances.

Creating something is very satisfying. Arts and crafts, computer programming, photography, or any medium that allows you to make something yourself.

Risk Taking
Usually only fun when it works, but thrilling. See also The Rush.

Treasure Hunts
The thrill of finding something, Shopping, geocaching, bird watching.

The Rush
Adrenaline, thrills, sometimes fear.

This is a great combination of many of the things above: social, competitive, skills based…

Some other ideas to think about:

Getting special access to something can make it more fun, for example being on the guest list or getting back stage.

Trying something new is fun, even if you don’t end up liking what it was in the long run.

It can be fun to show off your talents. People who do community theatre, play in a band, do karaoke, play charades get some enjoyment out of performing.

Problem Solving:
Finding the solution to a puzzle, or overcoming a non-obvious challenge is very satisfying. Jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, some types of video games and board games. This can also apply to things like design work!

Related to problem solving and challenge, constraints and rules force you to think about non obvious solutions and push your mind and body in unusual ways.

Investment in Character:
When you care about the characters, it makes everything more enjoyable. Cheering for sports teams, and developing characters in role playing games are two good examples.

Visual Impact Results

January 20, 2013

Our study found images that evoked the following emotions and thoughts:

  • anger
  • guilt
  • fear
  • hysteria
  • suspicion
  • WTF?
  • hope (at least one good one!)

We saw some of the following techniques used:

  • scale
  • contrast
  • point of view
  • juxtaposition
  • symbolism
  • implied story

We saw a fair bit of symbolism and imagery used to draw both the eye and the mind:

  • children
  • eyes
  • facial expressions
  • posture
  • blood

The images made us think about:

  • implicit biases
  • call to action
  • moral superiority (or lack thereof)
  • political and moral lessons
  • consequences

Our images were overwhelmingly negative. However, most print advertising also seeks to be arresting and compelling, while making you think positively of the brand or products represented.

For example the ad is meant to be humorous, in addition to being shocking. This is meant to leave you
Some ads try to make you imagine a certain lifestyle. There is an implied story that you are supposed to put yourself in.

Beautiful people leaving the opera

Some ads just try to suggest a mood:

Old iPod Ads, with silhouettes of dancers

Some ads seem to be winking at you.

Durex ad, balloon animals

Some require a whole back story to understand.

Loctite ad, piggybank triumphs over hammer

Several things we see in these more positive images:

  • bright colours
  • situations to empathize with
  • implied happiness/success/value
  • things to envy
  • people to emulate

These images also rely on what we already know.  They evoke memories, tropes, and stereotypes that call on familiar and recurring stories that we have absorbed through interacting with our culture.

The context of our culture is required for these images to have an impact on us.  The designers use imagery that implies those culturally shared narratives, allowing them to use a kind of shorthand to have the effect on us that they are intending.

To summarize in one sentence:

You feel something because you see more than the image, you see the whole story that the image suggests.

Visual Impact Study (Jan 7)

January 9, 2013

A study on visual impact:

Working in pairs, find an image, poster, ad, photo etc. that evokes an emotional reaction in you.  Post a link to it on this page, along with your names and a 1 to 2 sentence comment on how it impacted you and what you think the creator’s intention was.

We will review the collected images, and make a list of what they have in common, what was effective and see if we can generalize the kind of techniques that are employed to convey messages successfully.

Please add your contributions below this line.

ChengYang Wu, Samantha Bozzelli

the artist selects a specific people under, gender, age, race, religion and so on in his photograph on city wall, which creates a curiosity of what the artist is trying to accomplish by the viewers that see it on the streets.

Marianne Ibrahim, Lauren Jamieson-Coward

Minimize Video
The video is an onslaught of beauty ads that females are constantly confronted with on a day to day basis, portraying the media’s idea of how the ideal woman should look. We think the creator’s intention is to blatantly display the impact the beauty industry has on our younger generations which is constantly bombarding them, and all females with a portrayal of how they should look or be.Jeewon, Marc, Shermin

[malware URL removed]

As a smoker, this ad hit home. The creators intention is obvious and blunt depicting how smoking will damage your lungs.

Asim and Bobby —> How saving the environment, benefits us. Toronto is a city with many cars and harm to the environment is the definite cause to all this pollution. This image shows how simply riding a bike rather than taking a car helps the environment in a small yet significant manner.

Wookjin Shim I think the intention of the SUV ad from Peogeot is that the model is good for when going camping or any other off road trip as it has the thing on its roof to carry bikes and other leisure vehicles. Also, by placing it upside down, with the bicycle carrying it, the creator intended to point out that the car is light, fast, as it is a small SUV, with good fuel efficiency.

Mika Portugaise, Jocelyn Hajash, and Rachelle Leblanc

This image is so impactful because it shows intense determination against a futile situation that seems impossible and dire.

Hao Yang Zhou & Xiaoyi Li  This advertisement shows how flexcible it

will be after learning yogalike a scroll.

Andrew O’Mara, Youssef Outair

Untouchable (HIV Camera) – Wayne Martin Belger, custom machined large format camera uses HIV infected blood as a 25# filter during exposures. The blood imbues the piece element of danger, mirroring the suffering and social ostracization experienced by patients.


Since the Vietnam war was so greatly protested around the world, it is unlikely that the photographer was commissioned by the military.  The photograph invokes a feeling of disgust towards the military for their inaction, and a need to take action against the status quo.  – Spencer Osborne, kassia harry


This ad give people impulse to grab a cup of coffee. And it’s also impressive. It gave me an idea that everyday I should buy coffee at that time.The best ad is changing people’s idea, just like the movie Inception.

Hello world!

January 8, 2013

Welcome to section 8 of Experience Design for the winter 2013 semester. This blog will be used to post work for in-class assignments and keep a log of examples and concepts we discuss over the next few months.