Pick Up The Phone

Prototype Concept

Mobile phones are a convenient way to connect with our loved ones, friends and family. How can we switch the perspectives of individuals based on the conversations we hold privately with the people who matter most to us? We explored a intimate narrative through the exchanging of words we communicate everyday.

The goal of this prototype is to invite users to put on a new perspective on their mobile phones. We selected 4 people who come from diverse backgrounds and documented their every day conversations through phone calls and text messages.


User Scenario

  1. User enters exhibition room. There are 4 RFID tagged phone cases placed on a table, accompanied by short descriptions of 4 individuals’ backgrounds.


2. User selects character of choice.



3. User puts on case at the back of their own mobile phone, it triggers phone calls  and messages at various time intervals.


4. They listen to the conversation that is being held and receive text messages that are being communicated to the selected character.



Project by Sam Lee, Chris Lee, and Si Ping Lim

Prisoner Dilemma card game

Prisoner’s Dilemma Game

Instruction Set

Adapted from Charles A. Holts and Monica Capra’s Classroom Games: A Prisoner’s Dilemma

Each person will receive 2 playing cards, one with red suits (hearts or diamonds), and one with black suits (clubs or spades).

You will play 5 rounds of decision making duels with these cards against opponents selected by the game master.

The first two rounds of the game must by played with out communicating to who ever you are paired with.

  1. In the first round, if you chose a card with a red suit, you will increase your earnings by $2, and your opponent’s earnings will not change. If you chose a black suit, your earnings will not change, and you will increase your opponent’s earnings by $3.

Please hold your card to your chest when you have made your decision. After you have done so, the game leader will pair you with someone else at random. You will each reveal your cards, and write down the colors each player used, as well as your own earnings in the table below.

  1. In the second round, if you chose a card with a red suit, you will again increase your earnings by $2, and your opponent’s earnings will not change. If you chose a black suit, however, your earnings will not change, and this time you will increase your opponent’s earnings by $8.

Next: You will now be paired once again with a new partner at random, however, you will stay with this partner for the last 3 rounds of the game. If you wish, you are allowed to discuss strategy and incentives with your partner at this point, before preceding to the final rounds.

  1. In round 3, red card = $2 for the player, black card = $4 for the opponent.

Scoring Table

Period          your card (r or b)            others card (r or b)            your earn

1                          _________                       _________                           _________

2                          _________                       _________                           _________

3                          _________                       _________                        ________

4                          _________                       _________                         _________

5                          _________                       _________                         _________


Create a table: black in top row and left column, red in bottom row and right column.

Black, black (top left cell): 3,3

Black, red (top right cell): 0,5

Red, black (bottom left cell): 5, 0

Red, red (bottom right cell): 2, 2

It is important for students to articulate the problem of their being a conflict between the risk for increased gains from cooperation (black cards), vs. the lesser but assured gains offered via the private incentive to defect (red card).

Discussion can be linked to individual vs collective good in a number of areas: price competition, bankruptcy and land use, individual vs cooperative labor. Or, the possibility of an individual having the private incentive to offer a low quality product, while if all sellers agreed to offer a high quality product, it would increase overall demand.

Mechanisms to ensure quality standards include warrantees, quality standards, franchising.

Another example is bankruptcy. What is the incentive for creditors not to liquidate their loans after a borrower declare bankruptcy? If all did this, then the borrower would sell at scrap value, and no individual institution would be as likely to get any of its money back.

Point out that in the first round, the gains from both people not cooperating (2, 2) are not significantly less than the benefits from both cooperating (3, 3). However in the second round, the gains from unilateral defection (2, 2) are much less than unilateral cooperation (8, 8)

It is potentially interesting to see if the rate of defection decreases after students are allowed to communicate and therefore potentially cooperate after round 2. It is also possible however that some students may bluff, agreeing to choose the black card, but defecting anyway.

If data show trends of increased cooperation after round one (no discussion) as well as an increased rate of cooperation after round two (with discussion), discuss possible explanations (bigger gain from cooperation after round 2, though private incentive remained the same, opportunity to work collectively, etc).

If any students defected in round 1, but cooperated in the repeated pairing rounds, you can ask why.

If discussing in the context of game theory, you may discuss the effects of end game strategy, where the potential to collaborate may dip slightly in the last round of pairings, as people may try to “lock in” earnings. Discuss why (no chance to be punished later etc)

Some economic interactions have a natural “end” period, such as offering a tourist (or anyone) a impressive looking but poorly made product, if they are not expected to make repeat purchases.

Power of Play – Ben Miller

I had rather conflicted feelings while reading the article, and had a hard time taking many of its observations or assertions seriously. On the one hand, many of her points hold merit, but are often 

This starts with the whole focus on “urban / street” games, an already dubious category because of its name’s similarity to marketing buzzwords you see in music and movies. The closest the author ever gets to defining is on pg 144, where she says it cuts across genres. Besides this feature however, she never offers up a taxonomy to give the term meaning. Because of this, I got the impression she selected games that held the traits that she goes on to criticize, which turns any conclusions drawn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

She also often introduces or phrases the conversation in such a way as to highlight her intended point, even when it seems to run counter to reality. Such as the prevalence of these “street” games which exist only by her own categorization. Also the role of games as separate from the shortcomings of any other cultural work in continuing flaws of cultural representation.

That said, many things she noted, such as issues of racial or gender representation, are very much issues within games and the gaming subculture. But this article came across as an egregious oversimplification that misses the point.

Power of Play

During the introductory paragraph about the concern of gaming and its negative effects and influence (considering race also) on children, the first thought that blasted in my head was “GRAND THEFT AUTO” before the article mentioned it. I played GTA when I was younger and I remember family members telling my mother it wasn’t good for me and would negatively affect me. I always took this as an insult, because I simply enjoyed driving the cars and getting money from missions and knew that nothing about the game enticed me to emulate the things I saw.

It wasn’t until later after becoming a designer that I realized why people were so concerned. The urban space and characters portrayed in the game not only paint a certain picture about people of color to the world, but it also CAN shape those small children who are building their repertoire of race, the world, what’s cool, and what’s acceptable (or not). This ties into the power and responsibility that designers and makers have: Does the work you create imply or send the messages you want to the right people in the right way? It leaves me constantly questioning myself and what I do—How do I make the project or work that I desire to, while also staying deeply informed and aware of how other people will be affected. Whether it’s a game or something else, everything we do sends a message. I want to send the right one.

Power of Play – Dana

I don’t have much experience with video games. The only games I have ever played were Mario Cart as a kid and The Sims. However, I do believe that the cultural artifacts we produce largely build our values and interpretations of the world. I completely agree with Everret and Wattkins that designers and artists have lots of leverage in shaping people’s opinions and views about the world. I think this extends to all designers of any product or platform that people spend their time using. Movies and games are powerful captivate their audiences attention for significant amounts of time and represent the world in a way that its creator envisioned. They are ultimately mediums of their creators expressions, just like all other art forms. However this extends to the creators of other tools that we spend our time using because they were designed by people who shape our experiences. For example technologies such as Facebook, Google, and Apple change the way we experience personal connections, design our mediums of expressions, and design portals for experiencing the world. I think whether we are designers of apps, games, or the creators of movies, we are people that shape experiences for other people and therefore we have lots of leverage for shaping their minds. As designers we need to pay extra attention to the implications of our work and try to conceive what we make in contexts that we may not have intended when we created them. In other words, as artists we have lots of leverage because we shape people’s minds, and therefore we need to handle our work with thought and responsibility.

Power of play- Yunqi zhou

As an 25 years old Asian, and been america for only one year. I have no idea about racial and gender problem. In China we don’t care about that, If you walking on the street, all you can see is Chinese. The White Black and Latinos are exotic and minority. So I may not give a accurate answer or respond for this Article. When we are talking about street game, the first thing coming in to my mind is GTA. So as this article says that there are racial problem in this game. For example, those color people always drug dealers,making violent crimes. The point of view from this article makes me a little bit uncomfortable. Because GTA is a game not a documentary simulation or an immersive experience. So in the game, game designer can exaggerate the situation. According to certain surveys or you can google it, the crime rate of black higher than white, I am not a racism person, those report is the truth. In order to make a great ambiance,  game designer have to use those most memorable local tag. Say, I am going to make a street game, and the story happens in Brooklyn. Things coming in to my mind are graffiti, colored people, reactionary gang, Brooklyn bridge. although there are a lot of other elements. Those elements exert influence on players’ feeling. If i exaggerate those elements, player may think that yes I am in Brooklyn. The immersive experience or simulation experience is going to create a experience that as same as our life. So in this situation, White can be murderers, Black also can be famous people.

Did teenage will learn about somethings from this game. The answer is yes! But this is not the game’s or game designer’s problem. This is the social issue. Game is a reflection of our world.

Power of Play

Video games have taken on a more immersive role, by establishing ideas and behaviors that augment how we draw relation with the real world. This reinforces our perception of stereotypes and the social stigmas we witness at a daily basis – and not just with people of color. The underlying issue is not just about how black, Latinos or Asians are being stereotyped in games, it is also for whites who are often clichéd as the protagonist; how females have a tendency to be sexualised. Fundamentally, the problem is not about the games we play, it is the games we choose to produce based on our own biases. It was interesting when a lady at The Point discussed how she specifically chose to educate kids, because that is the most impressionable age when we are easily influenced by misconstrued perceptions. As a game developer or designer, it is our role to engage with society at a more intimate level, instead of blindly adhering to public expectations.

Public Works; and Stop Telling Women to Smile

I was checking out an exhibition happening at Mills College Art Museum in CA called Public Works; Artists Interventions from the 1970’s Till Now, which has a lot of great work in it btw, when I stumbled across this interview / portrait / wheat paste project by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh about street harassment of women called Stop Telling Women to Smile. Goal relates to choices made of what / whom / how to represent.

Stop Telling Women To Smile on Vimeo.

The Power of Play Response – Joanna

I think the most interesting conundrum articulated in this piece was how to balance the pressures and expectations of players/consumers with a responsibility by game creators to be more racially and culturally representative and more thoughtful about choices around race and gender.

To me, there were two big ideas about the way that youth relate to race through video games articulated by the piece: 1. that there are not enough minority groups represented in video games and 2. that those games which show big groups of people of color in very over-simplified and misleading terms. I felt like the author focused on the later more in relation to the focus groups for GTA: SA, but I actually found evidence of the way that the former is shaping young minds more disturbing.

Quotes like: “#4: I’d like a white or Italian guy. I’m black but for some reason, I don’t like playing video games as black people. Playing as a white guy makes the game feel more normal…” (157) speak to the way that white-washing has so drastically affected our perception of not who we are, but who we want to be. As an Asian American who grew up in the U.S. I definitely identify with this as most of the media that I consumed growing up featured blond haired, blue eyed white girls/women as the female protagonist. Compared to showing groups of black men as gang members, I feel like this is more insidious. Playing GTA, I understand that it is intended to be over the top in its representation of being a chauvinist, hyper “masculine,” gangster; however, it is not evident that the intent of many video games is to project whiteness as neutral or as connected to being the hero/protagonist of a story. That white characters remain front and center with people of color serving as their side-kicks and human props to me is much more dangerous than outrageous shows of hyperbolic urban culture.

Reconsidering the Margin Response – Joanna

There were quite a few points in this that I found interesting. The overarching one is the importance of CHOICE in marginalization, particularly relating to questions of power and agency.

This reminds me of one misguided project done by some Stanford students when I was an undergraduate. They wanted to point out how we ignore homeless people when we pass them on the street, so they dressed up as homeless people in order to prove this point. There are many many issues with this, many of which are articulated by Jodi Rios and her experience with her students. One, there was no knowledge or connection to actual homeless people and their experiences. The students who did this were very much coming at the issue of ambivalence towards homeless from their own privileged perspectives. They did not consider the very fundamental difference from their experience and someone who is actually homeless, which is that they made that choice. Similar to celebrities who have done the poverty challenge, the key difference in this is that they have CHOSEN to experience the experience of being marginalized with the full knowledge that they can return to their previous privileged position. Furthermore, the environment in which they chose to stage it, the Stanford campus, also invalidating the thing that they were trying to prove – that we “privileged” do not see or treat homeless as people – because there was an unfeasibility to the premise that a bunch of college-aged homeless people moved onto the Stanford campus overnight.

I found interesting this quote: “The appropriation and use of space are political acts” (46). While Rios talked about it primarily from an architectural perspective, I think it also speaks to our spacial relationships, which stem from the physical space that our bodies take up. When we do sit-ins and march, we use our bodies to take up space in a way that is extremely political, but even the way that we positions ourselves in relation to other people in a room (a classroom for example), says a lot about the politics of power and marginalization within a social group and environmental setting.

My thinking around problems of race and class and gender often come back to something that Rios says: “There is a difficult balance to strike between the transformative potential of opening oneself up to different ways of understanding the world and the tendency to essentialize difference in order to define, describe, and ultimately consume it” (46). I find fascinating that the way that we connect and abstract hard to pin down things like experience or a world view has an inherent danger to oversimplify views in a way that is somewhat arbitrary other than many others also use the same mechanisms and categories to oversimplify. How we balance the use and necessity of abstracting complex concepts so that we can internalize them AND the dangers of oversimplification is a very salient and important to reflect on.