Become a Great Artist

Hope Kean '18, Diana Liao '17 and Erik Massenzio '17

In designing “Become a Great Artist,” we were broadly interested in communication between agents, and how agents respond to different modes of communication. We asked, “How do people respond to confusing information?” This is a big question, so we sought to focus our attention in three main areas: Input/output, transformations, and intention.

We decided that a multiplayer game would be the best route to explore these various questions. The original idea was a game spanning multiple rooms, where an agent was getting fed information through headphones on how to complete tasks. These tasks would be solving Rubik’s cubes, finding hidden items, or opening locks. For various reasons, it would be very difficult for the agent to make any interesting interpretation of the message-sender’s intentions. If the agent could make an interesting interpretation, often the choice of the agent was a simple binary decision. We wanted a more meaningful interaction between players, so we tried to come up with a way to augment this idea to something more simple and robust.

Design challenges were abundant in the making of this project. Designing a game is extremely difficult because people are complex variables. Details that might not seem to be significant become extremely important when it comes to fine tuning the rules. For instance, during a prototype, we discovered that it is indispensable that there be a limit on the amount of characters one could type. This is something that we could not have anticipated. Another example is fine tuning the instructions given to the participants. Since it is critical that some people have information that others do not, figuring out exactly what information is necessary to give was a harder task than expected. Fine tuning game mechanics took a lot of time, and could only be accomplished through multiple stages of prototyping.

“Become a Great Artist” is an exploration of human intention mediated through corrupted communication. Understanding the nuances of this interaction and what motivates certain actors to achieve specific ends is not something that can ultimately be answered by any project. However, we hope that “Become a Great Artist” provides a focused glimpse into the complex interactions that constitute our dynamic experience as humans. How do we interpret others intentions? What intentions do we decide to follow? How do we justify our interpretations of these intentions?