First of all, we have to say we are so stoked to have done the play test. It confirmed us our physical equalizer concept totally works! Every user who tried it really liked it. Preparing the play test and doing it made us realized tons of things. We set up our play test on the floor. We had prepared a cardboard version of the device:
- a piece of paper on which we drew 4 squares;
- 13 cardboard blocks of 10cm x 10cm;
- headphones plugged into a laptop;
- which was plugged to an online sequencer to fake the music interaction. Every time a user would pile a cube, we would fake the equalizer effect in real time using that online sequencer.
Watching people interacting with the device made us realized we have to ask ourselves: what is the purpose of the device?
- is it a functional device? Is its purpose to be an functional equalizer people would use mainly to manage and equalize the music they listen too?
- is it a game people can play with? With instructions and a rewarding system?
- or is it an instrument and/or a performing tool musicians/djs would use?
The blocks were displayed around four squares drawn on a piece of paper. When the user was in front of it ready to start, we only said: go! We did not give any instructions.
- All the users understood at first glance they had to put the cubes on the 4 squares drawings;
- it was clear for every user he had to build something with the cubes displayed in front of them;
- it took a little while for everybody to understand that stacking up the cubes had an impact on the music. This was mostly due to the fact Sarah and I could not go as fast as the users movements. The sound change was thus not in sync with the cubes movements;
- Those who understood the sound was being controlled by the cubes (two user did not) really enjoyed trying to figure out how the device worked. They did not mind not having any instruction to help, and thought it was nice they had to play with the cubes to get it. We could see a clear reaction once the user got it and started to play, which was really nice;
- It was also nice to see that the users did not need any trime frame. Some of them played for 2 minutes, others 5 minutes. It really depended on their willingness to try various tricks with the cubes stacking and movements.
- Over all, the play test showed us our device can offer a clear visual framework preventing us having to write instructions or orienting the users. The functionalities are pretty simple to understand, and when they get them, the device is really fun.
Two of the users did not understand the cubes add an impact on the sound. The persons focused on the shape that could be build and did not pay attention to the sound scheme. They thought it was an accompanying music. This might be due to the online equalizer we used. Every tracks had basses and highs and it was not easy to identify which tracks was linked to which pile of cubes. Because we were operating by hand, the sound changes were not always in sync with the user movements. Anyhow, we will have to make sure the music changes will be immediate and clearly responsive to the cubes movements.
- It totally works when the volume changes respond immediately to the adding of a cube on a stack;
- we could add a slider to change tempo;
- the users liked to feel rewarded with a sound change and would definitely like to have more rows, at least 6;
- the users really liked the idea of building a track with the blocks. Composing/constructing music in 3D;
- the users liked to listen and play multiple tracks but also wanted to hear them separately
The play test made showed us the cubes weight and material are gonna be crucial in the definition of the device interactivity.
- if we decide to go for light and not so fragile cubes, the users will be tempted in moving the blocks quickly. For instance, they could stack them all on the same pile and push them away all at once to “destroy” the pile and start again;
- if we go for heavy blocks, the users will be more into slow moves and might move them separately.
- to use a raw material not associated with digital culture like wood or bricks;
- to put LED in the blocks;
- to add a key so the blocks would fit together like lego blocks
Here are some observations from the play test:
- All the users understood right away they had to use the blocks to build something;
- all the users wanted to use all the blocks. This means we will have to come up with an appropriate number of blocks, not too many, not too few. This will depend on the sensor’s sensitivity.
It was really nice to watch the users interact with the device. They all played with their own style and highlighted a new creative interaction with the cubes. Here are some examples of what they did:
- piled the blocks all the way up on the same column and then slide it to another column;
- slided them from one column to another;
- played with only one block at a time;
- piled them on a stack and then took them away all at once;
- piled them up before putting them on a pile so it would sound with the highest volume at first;
- piled them into a pyramid.
Every user did something the precedent did not do. It was really nice to see there are so many ways to use the same device.
I CAN’T WAIT TO BUILD IT!!