Nurturing Light (WIP)
Sustaining Living Interfaces Through Ludic-Driven, Post-Anthropocentric Design
Advising Faculty: Mirela Alistar PhD
Medium: Living Computing Interface, Escape Room Installation
Nurturing Light is a pitch-black escape room that is segmented into three sequential puzzles. A singular player must navigate through the dark puzzle environment by solely depending on dinoflagellates (bioluminescent algae) for visual information and guidance in order to escape. However, to successfully utilize the algae’s bioluminescence, the player must provide resources for the algae as well as consider the algae’s limitations and well-being during gameplay. The room is also designed such that each puzzle is playful in nature, being music and/or rhythm based.
Utilizing living media (i.e., made of live organisms) within computing interfaces opens an array of possibilities for novel playful interaction. However, sustaining such living interfaces pose issues in the design process; not considering the well-being of the organisms impairs system longevity, while maintenance can detract user engagement. To mitigate these issues, Nurturing Light explores a post-anthropocentric lens to designing living interfaces by designing the puzzle interactions around the maintenance considerations of the algae and to give them resources they require such as oxygen and UV intake.
However, to promote player engagement, we also utilize ludic design ideals to leverage our post-anthropocentric goals within the game design process, creating fun and engaging interactions for the user that simultaneously nurture the algae. Nurturing Light embraces the notion that humans are playful creatures in that for us, ludic or playful artifacts and experiences go beyond pleasure and entertainment, and play can be a vehicle for exploration and curiosity. In this respect, we aim to design ludic interaction between user and algae to engage the user and subsequently nurture the algae for play and fun as exchange—making for an interface where the more engaged the player is, the more likely the algae will be sustained.