VR and The Point

VR is a powerful way to tell stories, it is a powerful way to convey emotions and it is a powerful tool that can be used (as any tool in hands of a human) right or wrong. Affordance is a great factor to consider when we talk about VR. Similar to what Dan Archer was telling us last class, VR does facilitates empathy but it is interesting to see that it is not accessible to everyone. The “making” and “receiving” of this tool is given to different sectors of people.

It is easy then to compare VR to TV’s or Radio’s earliest days, difference being that we are now aware of the level of empathy and immersion that these two mediums can transmit, weather as with VR we are still trying to find out.

As we move through different kinds of VR, from gaming to more “serious” ones, it is impossible not to point out that even the best-intentioned and researched VR experience is also curated on a certain way, conveying a specific point of view.

Again going to Archer’s talk about VR it is also interesting the intromission that the VR curator/artist/journalist is making inside the life of whoever he/she is wishing to portray. That said, VR is not the most transparent medium as is (as of today) impossible to pass unnoticed when working with it.


The goal we have for this project is for users to find a new perspective and share some common ground. We believe our last playtest was successful in doing so. While our users said they were having fun we could also see them interested in the dynamics and commentaries from their peers.

Going this same route will allow people to reflect what people see and how they see it.

[Perspectives] – Dana, Karen, and Ping

Our last visit to The point was very fruitful. After we came up with three different ways to play test our game the participation of everyone was quite interesting and we got good feedback. 
Here are  two of the three different games we tested:
+All cards facing up on the ground
+One person has to answer questions  (pointing to a card)
+Everybody has to guess why he/she picked that card
Closest answer to why she/he chose it wins.
+If you win you keep the card and get to go first next turn.
+Five cards are selected randomly by each player.
+One person (organizer) poses question
+Everybody picks a card (out of their deck) and explains why he/she chose it.
+Everybody votes for the most creative answer except their own. That person scores a point.
We found out that the questions we put together had to be very broad, interesting but also it mattered a lot that the concepts we used did not have only one right answer. For example when we asked “If you could live a different life, what would it look like?” we noticed it threw the players off because it was a very personal question and they did not know each other that well.  If we think about the right answers to make any of these iterations seemed to work: users said it was fun and we were able to observe how easy they were getting into sharing themselves with others. 

VR Empathy

Virtual Reality makes us feel humanity in a deeper way because it allows us to put our users in the exact same position we want them to be. It connects humans to other humans in a profound way and it can change people’s perception. We become more empathetic and more connected through this machine. There is a study about mirror neurons (http://cultureofempathy.com/references/mirror-neurons.htm) that talks about how we can feel as if we were doing what we are watching/listening about just by storytelling. If this is possible through storytelling it is not surprising that VR can intensify this emotion.
Of course there are limits and questions to be answered since this is a considerably new are to discover but I think it would be interesting to make interactions in real time with automatic translation so that we can interact with the person on the other end, take the technology and mix it with other ones to make the result even more interesting.
Also as we’d talked about shifting perception and sharing common ground in this class I think it would be interesting if we could turn this “virtual” reality into a kind of economic “game” where one can hire people and “play” against other people in poor areas of the world. The question would then be, how do we stay with the VR feeling on after we turn the machine off?

For Against



  • Goal: We want people to see the perspective of another based on a given situation.

Mechanic: how it works, what are people doing, what actions, strategies, behaviors emerge as the game is played: i.e. Communal Discovery (like Nick’s balloon), surround territory, resource management. Do players have choice so they can experiment and strategize, to achieve goals in different ways?


Initialize an argument, one FOR and one AGAINST


Two main characters, with two supporting characters.

The two supporting characters have to convince the opposite why they should support.



You’re pregnant, and you want to keep the child and take care of him. But your boyfriend think its too early and wants you to abort.



Girlfriend: You have to argue that you want to keep the child and why.

Boyfriend’s best bud:



Boyfriend: You have to argue why it is not a good idea to keep the child and why.

Girlfriend’s sister:



  1. If other team has no more counter arguments
  2. If supporting character is able to convince their own sister to give in to situation



Josh has been dating Mark for 5 years and is ready to marry him. Josh’s mom is against gay marriage and wants him to find a girl instead.



Josh: Argue why you deserve the right to marry whoever you want and why love is equal.

Josh’s Dad: Debate why your wife should be more for gay marriage.



Josh’s Mom: Argue why gay marriage is wrong and why it will make you unhappy.

Mark: Argue why Josh should respect his Mom and make his family a priority.



Police arrived at the scene after neighbors reported hearing gunshots. Back Bystander was playing with a bbgun. Police fired shots at a and then realized the bystander was not involved in the shooting.



Policeman (Jonathan): Argues that he saw a gun and he should not have been playing with one.

Another bystander: Saw the bystander playing with the gun and thought he was guilty too.



The bystander: Was only playing. Feels like they are doing racial profiling.

Jonathan’s colleague: Argues that Jonathan should not have so rashly intervened and shot the bystander. Felt that he did not handle the situation professionally.



Two police officers Jonathan and Jordan (who is black) are having drinks at their favorite bar with their girlfriends. Jonathan makes a passing comment saying this is a dangerous bar because there are many blacks here. Jordan gets offended by his racial profiling.



Jonathan: Argue why racial profiling is necessary when it comes to pressing down criminal rates

Jordan’s Girlfriend: Support Jonathan that your race has the highest rate of criminal activity and why



Jordan: Counter argue why it is not fair to stereotype people based on their color

Jonathan’s Girlfriend: Support Jordan why it is criminalizing to judge people


Genre: Participatory performance


Debatable Topics:


Gay Marriage


Evolution vs Creation

Surrogate Mother

Police Brutality

Racial Profiling


Citizens vs Police

The Playtest:

To set apart our project from “Mafia” and “Werewolves” we tried testing it this time giving the players a “characteristic card” which they were able to keep throughout the game and show to others. A deck of cards is created at the start of the game which states the characteristics of the killer. After the game begins, at key moments like when the killer targets a new victim, players may reveal more clues. However, depending on who was asked to give the information, the clues could be true (normal citizen) or false (the killer). This provides a growing pool of evidence for players to act on, creating dynamic interactions based on roles and the individual players’ personalities. With this game, we want to  build another bridge between citizens and police. As they are playing different roles in this game, they may change their perspective and rethink about others impact on the whole society.

The results:

We found out that the approach to randomizing the cards we had created only worked with bigger groups (15 being our target) so the first few times we tested it the killer was discovered on the first round making the game dull. After we selected the cards better and made the first clue not trustworthy the game started developing better. In general they said the game was fun and interesting but our target vision of making people change perspective about the police role in society was not passed through.

Some suggestions we got were to make the “characteristics card” hidden from the other players and/or make the players act out/present themselves according to the cards they got. We are eager to try these different variations as we believe they help communicating the idea of changing perspective. Other elements we’re looking into revising include the way we randomize the card (was too dependent on group size), and perhaps fleshing out more of the role distinctions between citizen and detective (maybe the detective can spend a turn to verify a clue).

By: Ben Miller, Qianjing Liu & Karen Mercado


The Power of Play

The Power of Play presents a deep analysis regarding how race and gender are showcased in video games. Under the premise of games representing a dynamic learning environment, Craig Watkins is making a statement of the kind of learning we get from them. In a way talking about the “unseen”, the article talks about everything we are submerged to whenever we play a game. Without portraying it as  “bad” or “good” it  gives  a broad depiction of how a virtual world is set up and how we interpret it. In my opinion, the reading presents a powerful representation of why we are biased to think a certain way regarding race and gender. Not only television but also the design of games make us think a certain way.  I really enjoyed the article and, at least  for me, it really got me thinking when it said “Designing games that are more realistic points to the need not only but to capture more honest character portrayals, human motion, and environments, but also and perhaps more importantly, to capture the cultural sensibilities of a particular racial or ethnic group’s world experience.” Which one came first, is the virtual depiction of our world biased?  How, as designers, can we change that?


By: Karen Mercado

Reconsidering the Margin

I find it interesting that Rios approaches the transformative education through architecture and design. A lot of what he mentions has been very real to me whenever I try to approach a community different than mine. From projects made in Mexico through my last Major Studio project I have found it hard to design for a certain group of people. As it says on the reading, we assume that “anything is better than what is there” without questioning us “for whom will it be “better”, and by what set of criteria is “better” defined?”. Even when I have tried approaching the community in regard and trying to “see with their eyes” and target their needs, sometimes the “spaces” of information lacking are too big in order for reach to an understanding. Even when the intentions and wills are good the change of perception is harder that we imagine.

By: Karen Mercado

Changing a Point of View

Precedent of Immersive experience:
To me, an immersive experience is something that keeps you involved in what you’re doing. Examples go from playing video games to reading a book. When time passes unnoticed and you become unaware of events or people around you. I am not sure, though, if it’s possible to create an experience that is immersive for everyone.

A very simple example of what an immersive experience is would be Laser Tag

Image result for laser tag

Change perception: Every perception of the world is based on personal experiences therefore none of them are ever the same. To change perception is to be able to see things with another point of view. It is EXTREMELY hard, because sadly our way of thinking is already framed. I find that a good analogy of this are “untranslatable words”.

Our brain is wired with a border of words and ideas and we are able to understand different ones (specially when we practice) but it is never the same as if it were of our own native language. We might be able to understand them but it’s never as if we were born using and embracing them.


Selecting a random group of words and have people define them in their means. Definitions of concepts and physical objects are never clear enough. For example, I could define a book as a set of pages put together. A magazine could easily fit in this description. It is interesting then to me, how every person has its own definition of a certain word. Probably none of them are wrong but also none of them are the same. I think this is a way in which we could see different perceptions of the same thing.


How languages makes us see things differently?
I am very interested in how people frame their way of thinking depending on their maternal language. This is why for this first prototype I’d love to try to see languages through another person’s eyes. I think there is a lot of beauty in this sociolinguistic differences and find them very interesting.

by: Karen Mercado