Journey to Xotera

Journey to Xotera is a guided interactive storytelling experience— set in outer space— designed to encourage participants to rethink how they use of their imagination.

Hayden Carey


Journey to Xotera is an interactive role-playing experience. Think of it as larping (live-action role-playing) that takes place on Zoom. The companion app allows for real-time interactivity.

How it works: Each Zoom guest is assigned the role of an astrobiologist looking for life on other planets. As your CampCom, I am guiding you on the inaugural mission to Xotera, an exo-planet that could one day be an Alternative Earth.

Using Zoom, real-world objects, and the interactive app, guests will be asked to communicate with their fellow astrobiologist teammates, reimagine everyday items as pieces of in-world texture, play mini-games, and, most importantly, opt into using their imaginations.

In this performative Zoom experience, guests are reminded how fun it is to tap into their childlike instincts. Children are inventive; nothing is out of bounds. Journey to Xotera encourages adults to question what it means to play. By the end, I hope guests hold onto their imagination, which hopefully the experience has inspired.

See the Companion App here:

See the Mission Control Center here:

Critical Experiences, Connections Lab, Connections Lab

Cyborgian Rock

The Cyborgian Rock, a fictional entity experienced via a chatbot, stimulates animistic imagination in the user.

Maria Maciak


The Cyborgian Rock (CR) explores the untapped potentialities of social presence theory in technology. Social presence can be defined as the sense of being with another and is exploited by the designers of products such as Alexa or Tamagotchi.

The CR experience is the opposite of our encounters with consumer techno-products. It does not serve a utilitarian purpose or provide consumerist pleasures. Instead, it steers one towards reflections on nature, ancient traditions, and traditional modes of understanding as they relate to the modern experience.

The rock entity speaks obliquely, evoking both a sense of a non-human consciousness and providing the negative space necessary for a sense of social presence. The rock's responses touch on ideas stemming from animistic traditions, thus marrying the digital interface design and ancient modes of projecting social presence onto the natural world.

IMALR-GT.202, IMALR-GT.201 , IMALR-GT.201 , IMALR-GT.202
Critical Experiences, Connections Lab, Connections Lab, Critical Experiences

Mindful Breathing

The competitive meditation game that yells at you if you are not being mindful enough.

Michael Morran


Inspired by a tendency to take meditation way too seriously, Mindful Breathing challenges users to accumulate breaths, add upgrades, and wager their progress on the journey to transcendence. Using ml5 and PoseNet, participants' bodies are tracked in order to log breaths and transform what is, at first, a simple interface into a claustrophobic cacophony of 'mindfulness enhancers.' After a certain amount of progress, players are able to measure their success against the self-actualization of others and bet their breaths for the chance to surpass the competition.

This project is inspired by Universal Paperclips by Frank Lantz. Big thanks to Mathura, Craig, Ellen, Lisa Jamhoury, Lisa Sokolov, and all my classmates for their help!

Connections Lab, Connections Lab
Machine Learning,Play/Games

Entering the Deep

Entering the deep via a curated web experience. Taking on a journey through seeing deep creatures with an immersive spotlight feature. A easy fun multiplayer game of cleaning up the ocean is awaiting!

Po-Wen Shih


The deep is a mysterious and colorful place. A place of cold and hot, dark and high pressure. What is it like to be in the deep sea and… is it possible to get there? I asked myself. In fact, more people have traveled into space than have traveled to the deep ocean realm…

This immersive exploration and multiplayer game combines my research in Critical Experience Studios and web development tools learnt from Connections Lab in fall term 2020.

I wish to share my observations with you to the deep sea ecosystem. Please join me in entering the deep and see an imaginative and curated experience.

IMALR-GT.202, IMALR-GT.201 , IMALR-GT.201 , IMALR-GT.202
Critical Experiences, Connections Lab, Connections Lab, Critical Experiences

Secret Forest

A Secret Forest for musical co-creation of nature inspired music by connecting user's minds and bodies on a shared performance.

Enrique García Alcalá, Yiru Lu


Secret Forest brings the participants to a virtual instrument which merges electronic with nature sounds, allowing to play in collaboration with someone else around the world in a common virtual space.
Secret Forest is conceived as a way for exploring the web browser as a musical instrument, integrating different technologies, it allows real time connection for video which is analyzed with a pose detection machine learning model translating body position to sound.

Connections Lab, Connections Lab
Sound,Machine Learning