Project Two: Prototype and Proposal

The working prototype and the formal proposal are the key deliverables in Project Two.

The purpose of the working prototype is to complete the design process loop we began in Project One. So far in Project Two, you ethnographically observed people playing with toys, and analysed and interpreted this data in an attempt to deconstruct the nature and structure of fun. You have spent some time pondering the people you observed, by developing a set of personas that represent a cross-section of your target audience: OCADU students. You have brainstormed several toy ideas, shared them with your colleagues, and questioned their “fun-ness” by subjecting them to the metrics you have developed. You will now build a prototype of the toy that seems the most promising (and feasible). “The prototype need not be exquisitely constructed, but should be robust enough to survive user testing. You will not be permitted to explain your toy, so any required instructions should also be prepared in prototype for.”

“With your colleagues, instructor and a guest expert, user-test your prototype.” It is through user-testing that the prototype becomes valuable, and we will devote substantial energy to this task during Class Six. You should once again ethnographically observe people playing with your toy. You are responsible for maximizing this observation phase, through photography, video footage, audio recording and careful note taking. You should continually be asking yourself the unanswerable: why is this fun, how is it fun, where is it fun, who is it fun for, and: what is fun?

Your observations will play a critical role in your final proposal. Think of this deliverable as a pitch to a toy manufacturer. It doesn’t need to be long, and it can be delivered in any medium that the blog supports. It does need to establish that the toy is genuinely fun, a fact which can be validated by incorporating user-testing results, such as raw observation (e.g. photographs of a dozen different users happily playing with your toy), representing users in their own terms (e.g. a video where a user exclaims “this is awesome!”), and analysis and interpretation of your observations (e.g. a statement such as “users were consistently attracted to the toy’s soft corners and playful colours”). User-testing will also help establish which parts of your toy are less fun: any potential design improvements that become apparent should be incorporated into your proposal. Finally, remember that you do not need to fabricate the final product: it is not subject to material and constructional limitations that your prototype was. Propose the funnest evolution of your prototype that you can muster.