Anger Flanker is an arcade game-inspired interactive space that allows users to explore physical gestures as controllers to break a virtual surface. It lets people release their anger out all the way through physical interaction such as smashing and screaming.
Experience & Interaction Designer, Developer
Ridwan Madon, Krizia Fernando
October 5th - December 16th 2017
December 17th - 18th 2017 at ITP Winter Show, NYU Tisch School of Arts, New York
People tend to vent their anger by using physical interaction. How might we let them feel good by smashing an interactive installation?
Why releasing anger is good for you?
There are a lot of adults who suffered from mental health, not only in United States but also all over the world. Meanwhile in United States, there are about 42.5 millions people suffers some mental issues each year, which is about 18.2 percent of the total adult population. Regarding the number, this is actually a serious problem. People know that anger doesn't feel good. But we grow up in a society driven by the "pleasure principle" -- the instinct to seek for positive feelings. That way, we try to get rid of anger by burying it. On the other hand, keeping an anger when we're in stress is not good for overall health. Anger Flanker is an interactive space that let people release their anger through physical interaction without worrying about breaking physical objects near us.
Designing an engaging interactive space
Me and my team spent a lot of time doing exploration and fixing our concept. Dealing with human emotion was not easy. We had to understand what made people behave when they were feeling angry. I realized that expressing emotions were quite personal. For this reason, we designed a semi-personal space to let people interact and release their feeling physically. To design an engaging interactive installation, we had to know from others' perspectives. We did plenty of design iteration, from rough sketching, prototyping, until user testing.
Through some explorations and researches of how people express their anger, I realized that people tend to release their anger by shouting, throwing, or breaking objects near them. This gave me and my team an idea to make an interactive piece that actually could vent users’ anger as natural as possible. Since we wanted to make it more meaningful and relatable, we combined physical and digital objects. Using digital medium, we created a new dynamic ambience for the experience to be more engaging.
To make it more like a semi-personal space, we designed it to look like a funnel with a monitor inside. This way, users had to look down at the monitor to provoke their emotion. Also, with a funnel-shaped space, users would feel more comfortable if they screamed to the piece.
Model by Ridwan Madon
Designing physical interaction to make people feel good
Building up user's emotions was actually not easy. We designed a sequence of interaction relating the stage of emotions that people might feel while interacting with the piece. Since we wanted to make people feel good, we created a stage of interactions, from easy to hard: at the end, we wanted to make people used their maximum strength to release the feeling they hid inside.
Users used physical strength to interact with the piece. User could stomp, punch, and scream to break the virtual objects through different stages. The harder the stages, the harder they had to use their physical strength until they broke all the virtual objects in the piece.
Iterative design helps to create a better product
We did 5 rounds user testing to know if user could understand the entire interaction. I believe a good design is a self-explanatory: users can understand what they have to do instantly without much thinking. We made a lot of changes based on the insights we got from the user testings:
Creating a more obvious affordance, signage to let user know where to stand and what to do
Giving users a feedback when they scream and reach certain point
Letting users know how hard their physical interaction was, so they could measure how strong they were to keep going
Making more robust enclosure
“Your objective should always be to eliminate instructions entirely by making everything self-explanatory, or as close to it as possible. When instructions are absolutely necessary, cut them back to a bare minimum.”
― Steve Krug, Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
Difference between smash and press
Users were smashing Anger Flanker
Creating an ambiance is also important for user experience. To create a great user experience, I thought putting a nice-to-have components to build the ambiance mattered a lot. I decided to put LED strips alongside the cover. It wouldn't distract users from looking at the monitor, but they could still feel the ambiance from what they interacted with. Since the LED was associated with user feedbacks. It would change color when users interacted with the piece.
A small difference can make a huge impact. Even though paying attention to detail can be such a pain, not just how can we get the idea to add more value to our product, but also to implement it can take silly number of hours. But I always believe that having an eye for details can create better experiences.
The difference between mediocrity and excellence is attention to detail. It can be what separates the good from the great. — Unknown
The objective of this interactive piece was to make user smash it, so they could use their strength to let out their anger. For this reason, I thought it was really important to differentiate smash and press interaction. Although it was a small different, but implementing it was actually hard. I had to code it differently to measure what value belonged to smash or press. Smash was considered as two actions that had delay between each action.
LED to create ambiance
Make people feel good
Anger Flanker was exhibited on ITP Winter Show 2017. In this show, I kept observing people who interacted with it. Using Anger Flanker, users actually released their anger. They kept smashing and screaming even though it was in public space. They said that it was a very useful product and they probably needed it in their home or office, so that they could use it whenever they were stressed. And after they used it, they in fact felt good since they could vent their anger which they normally couldn't.
My takeaway from creating Anger Flanker
I learned a lot from this project. From technical parts (how to build interactive product using Arduino and sensors), high-level parts (how to make users fall in love and keep interacting with our product), until teamwork (how to collaborate with people from different backgrounds). It was very challenging from the beginning, from discovering the problems to implementing it. It was not just about making something cool, but making something that really can help people.
Other than technical parts which were extremely challenging, designing a product that has good user experience was also another challenge. I had to think every detail that could differentiate a good and great experience: what could make this product memorable. To create the whole experience, the use of space and other medium such as light and sound are really important. For the interactive pieces, I also had to think the flow from the beginning: how to attract people to interact with it. Then created the user journey of each interactive, the goal, and what could people take away from each piece.