Two Ivanhoes, One Direction

Over the past few weeks our team of six divided into two subgroups to try and wireframe out our respective visions of Ivanhoe (see Veronica’s excellent post for more details on how these groups were organized). After coming together and presenting each of our ideas, I was immediately struck by the similarities between our projects (and a bit relieved to see that we won’t really need to make too many compromises in either direction). We both envisioned a central space or environment where users would come to collaborate (similar to Prism all of the play would happen in one place). We both mapped out a profile page where users can easily access games in progress, chat with other players, and have the ability to edit  their profile. Yet we also had some important differences:

1. Team II (Stephanie, Eliza, and Scott) had a role journal, a “contact us” feature, an option to sign in to the game by using Facebook/Twitter as well as the ability to link our environment to these social networking sites.  They also had a demo feature for people new to the space, the ability to star moves, activate move notifications, and assign points. Overall, I think most of these functions are good ones – especially the ability to star moves and have the option for players to receive notifications (they suggested an e-mail notification but perhaps we could also make a text option to facilitate more smartphone usage). Given smartphone proliferation, I also really like the idea of linking up to FB/Twitter because I think it would increase participation and frequency of use. I also think their idea of a demo is essential because it could help new users navigate the space but also serve as a marketing tool! However, I’m not sure I see the benefit of a role journal. I understand creating a restraint so players aren’t just making moves haphazardly, but our team presented a “rational” section whereby players had to justify why they made moves instead of a “role journal” which I believe is a bit excessive. For me, I want most of the time players spend in the environment to be devoted to playing/making moves and not writing. I’m unclear of what the benefits of a role journal might be and I’m concerned that by creating more work for users our environment will become a less fun place. I’m also a bit weary of a “contact us” section because it requires constant monitoring and after this academic year comes to a close I wonder who would maintain this function. Perhaps a FAQs might be a good alternative?

2. Team I (me, Veronica, Zach) – one big difference of our presentation was the look and feel of the environment. While Team I envisioned a space that looks similar to WordPress, our team was thinking more of a Google Maps interface – where users could zoom in and out. We also want to have a function similar to a tag cloud whereby the images with more connections would grow in size as the game progresses (or if you have a team game, the team with the larger images is the one making more connections…aka “winning”).  The benefit of our layout is mainly aesthetic, but Team II might be on to something with navigation. It’s possible our layout could get too messy as more and more people make moves. We also included a taxonomy feature – a necessary component if we want users to have the ability to search for and find games they aren’t directly invited to. Finally, we proposed an image only game (in the form of pictures, music, videos) and this is something that I really want to push for. While I realize that the original Ivanhoe was manipulation of texts, I think that Prism essentially does this (although in a less playful way). SO, if we want to have the ability to manipulate a text, perhaps we could embed some of the Prism tools into our gaming environment? Is this possible? Do those familiar with the old Ivanhoe feel that a text based game is essential or do you like the idea of image only?

In general, I was impressed by all of our ideas and doing this exercise gave me a renewed energy for our project.  But as we move forward in figuring out which additions we want to include and ultimately what direction we end up taking, I think the final question we all need to ask ourselves is what else is missing?

I am a fourth year PhD candidate in the Sociology Department and am interested in the intersection between media and society. My specific sociological interests are media (as culture), gender, and inequality.

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