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  • Writer's pictureDaniel J. King

Dissertation Blog #6

Citation of the Day

Murray, Janet H. Inventing the Medium: Principles of Interaction Design as a Cultural Practice. MIT Press, 2011.

This book asserts three foundational design principles:

  1. All things made with electronic bits and computer code belong to a single new medium, the digital medium, with its own unique affordances.

  2. Designing any single artifact within this new medium is part of the broader collective effort of making meaning through the invention and refinement of digital media conventions.

  3. When we expand the meaning-making conventions that make up human culture, we expand our ability to understand the world and to connect with one another. (Page 2)

The design process of a digital artifact should begin by asking: Who needs this object and for what? How will specific end-users employ the product in particular tasks and activities? What social and cultural customs, relationships, institutions, and value structures does this product reflect or subvert? What deeper, enduring general human activities and values does this object serve?

"The designer’s task must be in the service of specific human needs. A design is not good or bad because it uses a particular technology, makes money or fails to make money, or preserves or erodes a particular power structure. It is good or bad according to how well it serves a core human need whose value is larger than the immediate task." (Pages 39-40)

Design and Mechanics

Who needs Field of Cures and for what?

I believe that a well designed pro-science casual game will contribute to the movement in the United States to elevate the voices of responsible scientists.

How will specific end-users employ Field of Cures in particular tasks and activities?

Field of Cures is first and foremost a casual game, made to entertain a broad spectrum of mobile game players in the spare moments of their lives. The monetization of the game is meant to raise funds for science advocacy.

What social and cultural customs, relationships, institutions, and value structures does Field of Cures reflect or subvert?

Field of Cures reflects civilization's relationship to nature by positioning the world's natural plant biodiversity as a reservoir of potentially medicinal compounds. The game also reflects the tension between the scientific method, which seeks truth, and the profit motive, which seeks sales.

What deeper, enduring general human activities and values does Field of Cures serve?

Art is a way of making sense of the world. Unfortunately, video games as an art form have historically emphasized the destruction of nature and unrestrained profit maximization as winning strategies. Field of Cures is a small step toward correcting this negative tendency.

Current Events

I'm so tired. And everything I just wrote above about what Field of Cures should be and do seem like impossibly lofty goals for a lone amateur game designer. It's the first of the month today, and I have a large report to do at work. Climate change is causing simultaneous floods and fires throughout the United States, yet this country remains under the control of liars who deny it is even happening. I'm getting old. I am a coal that has ashed over grey, and is smoldering with rage inside.

Fight the good fight.

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