We were asked as presenters at the “UX design session” at the CAA2019 conference ( in Krakow Poland, 25 April 2019), to answer some questions by the session organizers: Francesca Dolcetti, Rachel Opitz, Sara Perr
Overarching themes to be explored..
- How, if at all, are we experimenting with critical thinking/reflection in design and value-led design?
As I said, not seriously, in my presentation, I decide to tackle that question by writing a book about it (Critical Gaming: Interactive History and Virtual Heritage).
- What are the spaces in our workflows and practices that afford more experimentation with design?
Spaces: creative spaces are messier with big tables and bigger whiteboards.
Key discussion questions:
- What does ‘success’ look like in terms of the user experience (UX) design process for archaeology/heritage? What constitutes ‘failure’ in relation to the UX design process for archaeology/heritage?
My answer is specifically heritage, as I believe archaeology may differ (sometimes).
I think there are 2 main questions:
- the user experience of the product/simulation itself
- the extrapolated and after-event user experience (what happened after they were in the experience)?
- Failure (in a game, AR or VR) means lack of engagement or interest with content or with instructions, lack of understanding.
- Lacks memorability, does not lead participant to consider, explore, revisit reasons why we should preserve, conserve or communicate the heritage content and its cultural significance.
NB success is the negation of 1 and 2.
- What should the role of archaeologists and cultural heritage practitioners be in the development of UX and User Interface approaches for use in the discipline?
Involved from beginning and during the process, provide expectations of answers, domain expert walkthroughs of content as presented and understood by others, part of audience when results and observations are completed. More specific answers depend on specific context so cannot answer further.
- What are the unconscious choices you’ve made in your design processes, of which you later became aware?
Expect the public to notice things that I notice, under-estimate time and attention needed to solve specific problems, double-meaning words like “challenge” in evaluations. Get the participants to appreciate the simulation, (this is NOT what we should be doing).
- Are archaeologists and heritage professionals ethically obligated to state the values driving their design practices and explore the role their values play in the process? Why or why not?
This is a difficult question because although I say yes, for me the question is when? DO these values become revealed (if people can clearly reveal their values) during the digital heritage experience, before, or after? Do we want too much attention spent on the designers or archaeologists or heritage practitioners’ values? How much is too much?
- What values are implicitly embedded in your design processes and products? Have you ever considered applying ethical, feminist, queer, decolonial, or value-sensitive design? How did – or might – you structure such community-minded design work? And where (i.e., in relation to which processes, outputs, practices, tools, etc.) would you apply it first?
- I attempt to provide more than one way, strategy, reading etc to complete a task, if specific tasks are required.
- I attempt to coax the player/participant to make decisions themselves and revise their initial views and tactics.
- I try to show the messiness, incompleteness of any digital “reconstruction” (OK, they are approximate simulations, recreations at best, not reconstructions).
- I would like, if possible, to show the process and thinking behind the way simulations are set up and depicted the way they are.
- I would rather the community engage with the game design first and foremost, rather than the game itself. By designing they have to make design and therefore heritage-related decisions.
I am sure this is very rough and approximate, but I tried to answer it all in ten minutes.