This is the first in a series of posts in conjunction with GAM 550: Incubation Studio, a graduate level course within DePaul University's MFA Game Design program. These posts will follow my process in incubating a design concept to bolster engagement with performance arts, with a particular focus on how to integrate theatrical practices within digital game spaces.
Prior to starting in on my actual design concept, I worked with a partner on a warm up for human-centered design and design thinking in general. The activity, a modified version of the d.school's 5 Chair Challenge, was to build 5 versions of a chair for a particular user profile. We built our chairs for Neil, a character from the Simpsons, whose profile is shown below:
My partner and I began by verbally brainstorming around Neil's profile and highlighted what we felt were his two most important needs: (1) being able to sit comfortably in a bulky spacesuit and (2) being able to sit securely in a weightless environment. From there, we determined that our design principle would be to make sitting in space as efficient as possible with our chairs. We decided that a seatbelt would be an important inclusion, as well as something to attach the chair firmly to another surface. Ultimately, we aimed to create a domed structure to imitate a gyroscopic functionality so that Neil wouldn't be disturbed by any turbulence in his travels.
To begin our production process, we each took about 60 seconds to independently draw a chair that we felt represented the functionalities that we discussed. Afterwards, we reconvened to critique each other's work and then each drew a second version of the chair using that feedback. The pictures speak for themselves in terms of how much more alike our drawings grew after our first round of critique:
The remaining four chair designs are outlined below, including what material was used for each, what challenges we encountered, and how we felt about the outcomes:
This 5 Chair Challenge was a useful means to situate myself towards design thinking going forward for the remainder of my ideation process. It helped me to think about the ways that design solutions can be adapted to best suit different people and needs. That said, an interesting exercise in the future could be to build one chair each for five different people (instead of five for one), but while still keeping the constraint of only working with one type of material.