Cart 360 — Prototype
November 5, 2021
We wanted to invent something that people can play together… something that shapes a social interaction, that gets everybody involved.
Users communicate with one another under a variety contexts. This is often to decide the fates of others. Similarly, identity-based technologies script us into subjects who shape and are shaped by the dynamics of real world social relationships. This stands to, in many ways afford us power, by prescribing us advantageous roles in everyday interactions. It can also do the opposite. We bring this realization into consideration using the dynamic of game logic.
Our prototyping process involved a series of actionable sprints to push forward. This required structured in-person rendezvous where our team members would collaborate on the production of conceptual logic, code, circuit building, and ideation. Arriving at our initial prototype was a complex process which initially required the production of pseudocode to organize the logic of our code.
We encountered a number of hurdles and gotchas as we progressed through code development. Although the coding of the button and LED screens were relatively straightforward, the RFID was a techically demanding component and challenged our comprehension. We eventually had to simplify the way our code worked in order to expedite the process in order to meet the prototype’s deadline. Because of the amount of time and effort required, we did not have the luxury of changing course on what our project means or what it does. That being said, our concept is relatively high-fidelity based on what we proposed we would make: everything is working as expected.
Following are some of the features we’re seeking to improve in our final couple of weeks together:
- Rather than having to verbalize conversation, participants will have to communicate using the digitized LED screen
- Game start: the rounds of the game will be regulated by a timer and reset when it is time for contestants to begin a new round. We also want to implement a Game end aspect for when the win / lose conditions have been met.
- Implement the use of an arm-sleeve / glove that players can wear to play the game
- Allow for all players to act as guards, rather than just one
- Develop a board that can assign player roles to boards at random, rather than having them pick them up off the table
- Implement a “clue-gathering” component where users try to guess the killer by piecing together a hangman-style parsed message
These augmentations are in a pursuit of demonstrating a more robust understanding of shaping the natural in-person interactions that structure our game in order to make it more fun.
It is our belief that a pleasurable game experience means minimizing the presence (both visual and technical) of the technology used to mediate interactions between players: by leveraging an approach which maximizes the sense of immediacy and invisibility of the components, we lessen the alienating effects of technology and engage our participants more effectively. This provides a more seamless experience for everyone.
Our project’s purpose is to explore technologies used for authentication, governance and role prescription.The idea here is to examine the capacity of technology to shape human interaction by reifying social relations into programmable code. This points to a modern reality where technologies don’t just impact us on an individual level, but equally on a group level: the spaces that exist between us, the self and other, and what occurs in between.
Here’s a breakdown of our technical components and what they each do.
- RFID Fob: It all begins with the programmable RFID fob. Here, we establish the identities of each participant in order to enact the game’s logic and rules. There are three possible identities: the investigator, the killer, and the civilian. These fobs are used at the end of each interaction. Players must tap their fob on the RFID reader of their partner, as well as their own, before another round can commence.
- RFID Reader: The RFID reader is responsible for identifying the fob, and then relaying information back to our Arduino board for further computation. By providing the opportunity for wireless communication, the RFID facilitates the conversation component of our game.
- Matrix LED screen: Connected to the RFID reader and Arduino board, what appears on the matrix screen is dependent on the identity prescribed by the fob. Upon successful RFID recognition, The matrix screen functions to display to the user what their role is.
- Context buttons: These buttons are used by game participants to make decisions and effectively “play” the game: each board features two buttons which differ based on the role of the participant in the game. They can be most succinctly summarized with the following: one button engages the participant into an act of intervention, while the other is used for simple inaction.
- Arduino Board: The Arduino board is the central module for the game. Once information is relayed from both the context buttons and the two-piece RFID set, the Arduino board initiates software which a.) re-codifies the fob based on the button selection, b.) keeps track of the number of incorrect accusations made by the investigator, and c.) displays the appropriate glyph on the matrix LED screen.