Conversation is an interaction designed for two players. They wear masks and they can generate a conversation by touching on each other's cheeks. This is their only way of communication.
Both masks have light sensors on both cheeks. When the player touches on the indicated space, the game generates a sentence for that player. Players are given two options. They can either say something positive or negative. Depending on their choices, sentences are randomly generated. Therefore, the conversations are unique every time.
Player's turn is indicated by the light on the forehead of the opposite player's mask. If they see the light is on, they know it's their turn. And they need to make a choice to keep the conversation going. Their choice is read by a computer generated voice. We used two different voices for the two masks in order to make it easier for the players to follow the conversation.
This project was developed as a class assignment. We were given a reference video as the brief. The video was an interview with someone who was discussing the effects of social media. We came up with the idea of using masks since social media is working almost as a mask for most people. Users on social media carefully curate themselves and what to present to other people. That feels similar to wearing a mask, showing something but hiding more beneath.
Our first versions involved costumes covering the full body. And the players needed to communicate with each other without using facial or arm gestures. However, the interaction was just too complicated and we were looking for something more elegant.
We decided to create an effortless and carefree way of communication using the masks. We wanted the players to feel alienated from their environments when they wear these masks like they are different creatures and this is just how they communicate with their own species. And they also don't need to think about what to say. They only touch on each other's face and a conversation is generated for them. In regards to that, Conversation stands in a very interesting place. It allows a more more intimate communication between players since they actually touch on each other. And the dialogues come out very existential because of the content we added, so the conversations are more than just chatting. However, players are stuck in a very limited space of communication. In that sense, it is still a shallow interaction. Just like our connections on social media, intimate but shallow.