The Game of Life
Introduced in the fall of 2016 by lab instructor Michael Styczynski, and carried forward by Professor Orlowski, the Game of Life assignment forces students to put themselves in the shoes of those who – on a daily basis – face constraints and limits to things most of the students take for granted. These constraints applied to access to transportation, mobility, technology, healthcare, even fresh water . This assignment is particularly impactful when students realize that many people do not experience only one of these constraints, but rather have to face several of them.
There is an element of ‘role-playing’ in this assignment that engages students in a manner beyond detached scholarly research. Students are required to experience and document the impact of a particular constraint on their daily lives, through a mapping of the experience, and the creation of a ‘video sketchbook’.
Past students were able to connect the revelations arrived at in this exercise to their studio design work. Stephanie Kortmann noted that her difficulties navigating the local bus system made her conscious of those for whom personal transportation was not available. “This actually kick-started my research into food access and transportation access at the beginning of the semester, allowing me to empathize with the potential people/partners that I would end up meeting throughout the rest of the semester.” Rasha Shoukani, whose studio project focused upon the unique needs of deaf users noted: “Not everyone is able to pull out their smart phone and log into their linked in, or use google maps to get to where they are going. One lesson that I took away from this assignment is that universal design and having amenities for everyone to use is very crucial. We should design for as many different types of groups as possible in mind.”
The example shown was produced by Trevor Garland and Simon Rucinski, who were tasked with using public transportation to travel to a grocery store, buy two bags of groceries, and return home. At least one item had to be refrigerated or frozen, and brought home fit to eat. Trevor and Simon compared the time necessary for this travel with the time taken to drive by car, and recorded the process, bus stops, fare required, and mapped the travel route. You can see Simon and Trevor’s video sketchbook here on YouTube.