Transcript: Ask the UXperts: Inclusive by Design with Erin Hoffman-John

Transcript: Ask the UXperts: Inclusive by Design with Erin Hoffman-John

Ask the UXperts with Erin Hoffman-John
Summary:

Yesterday we were honoured to host Erin Hoffman-John (co-founder and Chief Designer at Sense of Wonder) in our Ask the UXperts Slack channel. Erin was inspiring and passionate as she led us through an exploration of our own hidden biases and made us think about how they inform our design decisions. If you didn’t make the session, make sure you read the transcript.

Yesterday we had an incredibly interesting and enlightening session in our Slack channel with special guest Erin Hoffman-John (Chief Designer and cofounder of Sense of Wonder). We were talking about the relationship between authority and design.

Erin captivated us as she dug into how the design choices we make impact our users (and in her case, players) and how we need to be careful about identifying (and avoiding) hidden biases. We talked about the issues of ethics and inclusivity — and how they should and shouldn’t dictate our work.

Erin was a star. The session was fun and fast moving and we learned a lot!

If you didn’t make it because you didn’t know about it, make sure you join our community to get updates of upcoming sessions. If you’re interested in seeing what we discussed, or you want to revisit your own questions, here is a full transcript of the chat.

Transcript:

hawk
2016-05-10 23:01
Ok then <!channel> we’re good to go! I’m super excited about this session. I’ll start by introducing Erin.

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:02
Before I do, you can find out more about her at http://www.erinhoffman.comhttp://www.glasslabgames.org, and on Twitter @gryphoness

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:02
Erin is the co-founder and Chief Designer at Sense of Wonder, an independent mobile developer of ‘smart fun’ games.

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:02
Before that she was lead of game design at GlassLab, a Bill and Melinda Gates and Macarthur Foundation supported three-year initiative to establish integrated formative assessment educational games.

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:02
When I first touched based with Erin she’d been thinking a lot about the intersection between design and authority and that sounded like a great session.

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:03
Before I throw over to @erin to intro the topic, a quick run down on how this session works

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:03
Once Erin has intro-d, I’ll throw the floor open for your questions. If things get busy, I’ll queue them for Erin so don’t stress- ask away.

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:04
And I’ll post a full transcript of the session up on http://uxmastery.com later today or tomorrow

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:04
So with that, over to you @erin (and thanks so much for your time today – we’re lucky to have you)

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:04
Thanks! Sorry for the channel confusion. :simple_smile:

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:04
Well, when you all said I could talk about basically whatever I wanted… :simple_smile:

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:05
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the relationship between authority and design.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:05
Partly this comes out of my work in education.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:05
In developing educational games, it opened, for me, a Pandora’s box of issues surrounding accessibility and inclusiveness.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:06
Choosing a protagonist for a game becomes incredibly complicated when you are supposed to be reaching all kids at all socioeconomic levels.

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:06
Welcome Carly. Erin is giving us an intro to the topic. Glad you could make it :simple_smile:

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:06
Problems like that – what should our hero look like – started me looking closer at both game design and broader product design.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:06
Gender select, for instance, has always bothered me in games and applications.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:06
Most of the time there is no reason for it, and yet it’s what we confront users with first in many, many user experiences – including Facebook today.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:07
Looking at that through the projected eyes of someone who is transgender, genderqueer, or anything other than the traditional binary, you’re starting them off thinking about something uncomfortable from their very first moment in a product.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:07
I’m multiethnic, and I constantly am confronted with society’s inability to really grok my ethnicity every time I fill out a government form, especially the ones that don’t allow you to select more than one race.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:08
So I’m motivated to start conversations about digging deeper into how the design choices we make impact our users and players on this level, as people, and the way they reflect biases.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:08
For me, it’s an issue of ethics and inclusivity – which then becomes a business issue – but it’s also a question of design approach.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:08
I suspect that things like binary gender and ethnicity are just the tip of the iceberg.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:08
Every affordance we create in design carries bias behind it, and if we’re blind to that, we don’t even know how we’re limiting ourselves.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:08
So that’s my topic. :wink:

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:09
That is truly awesome.

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:09
So? questions please!

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:10
While you’re all furiously typing, I’ll get the ball rolling. @erin How much responsibility is on us as designers to be inclusive?

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:11
Complicated question. I suppose it depends on how you’re looking at yourself as a designer.

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:11
Especially when we’re working for someone else

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:11
I think if you take the role of designer extremely seriously – which is to say, we’re creating realities that other people experience – super responsible.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:11
But yeah, how you execute that responsibility gets complicated.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:12
However, this is always the case with diversity. The game industry has huge issues with hiring diverse candidates, and the excuse is always -diverse people don’t apply?.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:12
There are always excuses. I think for me personally I feel that I’m responsible to advocate for ethical choices.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:12
Whether people choose to make those choices starts to get on them, especially when they’re driving decisions.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:13
Ultimately then I have the choice of whether I continue working with people who don’t want to make those choices, and that’s my choice.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:13
But I do believe you have to advocate for the society you want to create. You do that regardless, so it’s a question of whether you’re conscious and honest about it.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:13
If you let this stuff sort of wash by and never think about it or decide what your beliefs are, you are still advocating for a kind of society, it’s just the status quo.

 

chrisoliver
2016-05-10 23:14
I’ve seen the issue of the binary gender question come up in few articles and podcasts recently. I’m curious what are other areas where where products and services could be more inclusive? You mentioned ethnicity as one.

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:14
and socio-economic status (which is one I wouldn’t have thought of)

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:14
@chrisoliver – yeah, good question. That’s kind of what I’m hoping can come out of this discussion. I think those are the big obvious ones that are the beginning. But yeah, SES absolutely.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:15
Cultural background more broadly is an issue, which is a confluence of SES, ethnicity, gender.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:15
Religious background.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:15
Whether assumption of or assumption of absence of.

 

panchoux
2016-05-10 23:15
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erin
2016-05-10 23:15
Let’s see? in accessibility, even things like sight and senses become an issue.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:15
Color blindness is something we pay a decent amount of attention to in games and UI.

 

carlosjones-02
2016-05-10 23:16
As a Designer for over 12 years and trying to get my foot in the door for UI then UX experience what would you suggest is the best route? And how would i put that on my resume if i have little to none experience with UI… Thank you…

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:16
and i guess use of language also – hugely controversial example, but it’s fairly common usage in some cultures to use the word ‘nazi’ to describe someone’s behaviour, but that is fairly horrifically polarising

 

dust
2016-05-10 23:16
Hi Erin, sorry no question yet but your intro made me think of this article you may be interested in, a recent game in development randomly selects your gender and race and he talks about the response from players. – http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/13/videogame-chooses-character-race-gender-rust

 

dust
2016-05-10 23:17
SOrry to hijack without a Q, will try come up with something :simple_smile:

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:17
@carlosjones-02: I think UI and UX is such a new field that there are some sort of common track ways and esoteric track ways. I think starting a blog is a great way both to get your ideas out there, to push yourself to think, and to market yourself. You should definitely go to UX conferences and get to know people and topics.

 

vernon
2016-05-10 23:17
What are some examples of affordances in projects you’ve worked on (or seen) that were inclusive by design? I’m particularly interested to hear thoughts on meeting *doing tasks with accessibility needs*.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:17
@dust I saw that! Fascinating story. Amazing that that was such a provocative design choice, wasn’t it?

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:18
@carlosjones-02: That would be a great question for our community. We spend lots of time supporting people transitioning into those fields http://community.uxmastery.com

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:18
@hawk completely agree! it’s easy to use polarising words in a negative way

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:18
@vernon, one of the big things we deal with in education and especially in younger ages is assumption of ability to read. But I suspect, especially given the statistics about adult literacy, that this isn’t just an issue for kids.

 

dust
2016-05-10 23:18
I thought it’s interesting as well how he said that the female players didn’t complain about it as much because they’re used to being forces to play as a male

 

dust
2016-05-10 23:18
forced*

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:18
@vernon You might have to unpack ‘doing tasks with accessibility needs’ a bit more for me

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:19
@hawk @sandyho7 that one is interesting. it’s fairly common on the internet still and in the US.

 

vernon
2016-05-10 23:19
Just trying to improve on “Students with a disability” to the phrasing I learnt at the Service Design conference.

 

nadaleen
2016-05-10 23:19
@vernon I’d be interested in alternative language too Vernon.

 

vernon
2016-05-10 23:19
My attempt on bettering this web page title was: Studying with accessibility needs.

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:20
@erin @hawk i think it’s something that people are used to and don’t realise the consequences!

 

lynne
2016-05-10 23:20
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vernon
2016-05-10 23:20
Focus on the task instead of any person’s abilities.

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:21
one interesting one i heard (an emoji example at that!) is that people changed the product design symbol for good from :+1: to :ok_hand: because in indian cultures the former means something negative

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:21
@erin @sandyho7 Right, and I think that’s the same with any hidden bias yeah? it’s my norm, so it must be everyone’s

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:21
wow, i didn’t know that

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:21
yes, that was really unintentional

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:21
@lynne: You made it!

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:21
@sandyho7: Yeah, hand gestures are super interesting when you look at localization across different territories

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:22
Often a lot of these things are driven purely by business, but the problem with that is, businesses will tend to go for the lowest/widest common denominator which means further marginalizing an already marginalized group

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:22
@erin i guess its a bit chicken egg but where/how do you think we should start sharing information like what we just discussed so that we can all become more aware

 

nadaleen
2016-05-10 23:23
@sandyho7 @eric and I always feel uncomfortable using emoji’s that have different skin tone because it doesn’t feel very right for some reason- thoughts? :+1::skin-tone-6:

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:23
@nadleen i agree

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:23
when they first made the different colours i actually felt rude picking one

 

nadaleen
2016-05-10 23:23
@sandyho7 I feel like i’m trying too hard in such a stupid way and it feels condescending.

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:23
absolutely

 

nadaleen
2016-05-10 23:23
@sandyho7 ditto.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:24
@sandyho7 I don’t know the answer to that one! it’s something I’m looking for also. I don’t know that there’s a community currently that answers this.

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:24
Agreed. Yellow feels safe because no one is truly yellow. Choosing a skin tone has other implications.

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:24
im wondering if users were previously offended about not being able to select??

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:24
@nadaleen I was just talking to a coworker about this the other day. it’s a super interesting example of exactly this issue – how Slack made those emoji color choices and how they are received.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:25
It does start to get into the issues with slack’s thumb emoji fundamentally…

 

nadaleen
2016-05-10 23:25
<!channel> maybe worth asking slack developers. That’s the only place I’ve seen it (so far).

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:25
This kind of reminds me of an anecdote from Whyville, a kids’ virtual world.

 

nmdesign
2016-05-10 23:25
@nadaleen I’m always in favour of creating gender and race neutral icons. (ie. Emoji’s that are silver) The perception of choice becomes a lot less intimidating when you rule out gender/race.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:25
it’s run democratically, it’s a web mmo of a few million users, all kids.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:25
The default avatar used to be white.

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:25
i love that we are always striving to be more inclusive and fair but at the same time i sometimes wonder if we are doing it more to say we have tried than because the designers actually understand the users

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:25
The kids decided this was a problem and convened a council to petition the developers.

 

nadaleen
2016-05-10 23:25
@nmdesign, so true, i feel the same way.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:25
They ultimately decided to make the default avatar purple.

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:25
@nmdesign: thats a good idea

 

nadaleen
2016-05-10 23:25
@sandyho7 exactly.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:25
I suspect the same is true with the slack emoji – to me even yellow has a problematic connotation

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:26
It makes you wonder why it isn’t blue (like fb) or purple

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:26
@nadleen i had that on my phone

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:26
on the keyboard it allows me to pick different skin tones

 

nadaleen
2016-05-10 23:26
@sandyho7 huh, so it’s a thing now….

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:26
yea it think its been that way for a few months at least

 

lynne
2016-05-10 23:26
@hawk – yes I did! Thanks for your help.

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:26
@erin: What are some practical ways that we can overcome these ethical dilemmas and design inclusively?

 

nadaleen
2016-05-10 23:26
@sandyho7 glad it makes others pause too though.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:27
@hawk I think one way is to ensure diversity in feedback.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:27
I suspect a big part of it is a starting mindset – and creating a culture where you are aggressively questioning yourself in your design assumptions

 

kristenh
2016-05-10 23:28

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:28
The nice part about this is I suspect this would make us better designers in general.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:28
But further, it means that our testing groups are extremely important

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:28
And I suspect we need new protocols for how we ask interview questions

 

nadaleen
2016-05-10 23:28
<!channel> i suspect that if we hired more inclusively we’d not make these kind of decisions, like the emoji thing we’ve been talking about, because there would be push back b4 it became a product feature.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:28
That will draw out this kind of feedback – because users are going to resist disclosing it out of a desire to assimilate

 

nmdesign
2016-05-10 23:28
@erin In the realm of game design; how can you drive ethical design decisions (such as a gender neutral character, or perhaps a first person experience that never identifies the gender/race, when there are business and marketing decisions that drive the project in a certain direction?

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:28
@nadaleen totally – you have to have the perspective present in the room, ideally

 

jellybean
2016-05-10 23:29
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vernon
2016-05-10 23:29
Literacy is a people skill. Coming from an education institution I feel that being a plain language advocate isn’t enough to eliminate jargon and make content and messaging easier for everyone to read. We have a vocab and terminology to use/avoid cheat sheet, and ideas for a content strategy but we’re still falling short. Any suggestions for directions we could take to make our language more inclusive by design?

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:29
I also think a corollary to that is assuming that you are going to be blind to the alienating features for groups that are not your background

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:29
@nmdesign: Awesome question. And when there are potentially technical constraints also.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:29
@nmdesign – You have to get creative.

 

dust
2016-05-10 23:30
@erin: From experience it seems that to create a fully accessible product requires a significantly higher cost and effort to create it. Any ideas on how a small organisation with limited resources should balance the choice of cost vs ethical product? It seems like accessibility is not something that can be bolted on easily at a later stage. Obviously you’re cutting out some of your market but in the early stages the impact might not be very high.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:31
@nmdesign – The gender one is especially hard in a large game. This was run into pretty squarely in Assassin’s Creed.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:31
A situation like that is where a designer has minimal leverage because the budget is explicitly allocated toward a certain assumed demographic.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:31
So there are cases where you as a designer have leverage and cases where you don’t.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:31
A fundamental decision again gets back to deciding where to work and on what properties to work, and persuading from the inside that these other markets exist.

 

dust
2016-05-10 23:32
Ideally everything we make is accessible and inclusive but realistically it might not be affordable to create

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:32
It requires a designer to develop a certain business acumen to be able to represent new potential markets.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:32
That then feeds into the hiring issue also – because if you can diversify your talent base, you increase the odds that new products are made that address more diverse markets.

 

nadaleen
2016-05-10 23:32
:+1:

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:32
However, when I say ‘get creative’, I also mean thinking up dumb solutions to dumb problems that no one sees.

 

natalie.eustace
2016-05-10 23:32
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erin
2016-05-10 23:32
As an example, I asked this question on Twitter and a friend posted that in Restaurant City they had made all the avatar clothing choices gender neutral.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:33
In contrast, Cafe World bifurcated clothing choices by gender.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:33
There is no technology or budgetary reason to do that – it’s purely a design choice.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:33
I think if you’re constantly looking for those opportunities you can find them.

 

nadaleen
2016-05-10 23:33
@erin were they capsule (ha ha, hearing that everywhere, don’t really know what it means)

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:33
Sometimes in games it’s a matter of making avatar choices that allow players expressiveness even when the system is supposedly binary.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:33
Player bases will often decide that a certain avatar is a particular gender by sort of collective decision.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:34
The kids in Pixie Hollow did this.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:34
All the fairies were girls, but the players collectively decided that if you chose this hair and this body it meant you were a boy, because the developers hadn’t allowed them the formal choice.

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:34
Love that

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:34
@dust I wonder if that gets to your question also.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:34
Often we hit a barrier with this kind of thing in the bureaucracy, but if we think subversively about expression and options, you can work in these little things that empower users.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:35
The other thing is, a design can often be made neutral.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:35
Especially with low resources.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:35
So it’s easier to say “neither” and at least not force a choice, and it doesn’t cost you more.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:35
The other thing is you have a lot of leverage in the design assumptions you make about your target audience.

 

andremartz
2016-05-10 23:36
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erin
2016-05-10 23:36
I think there are countless opportunities to think a little differently about color choices, about iconography, to create both product distinctiveness and to resist cultural assumptions that are almost certainly causing harm somewhere.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:36
I guess the net answer is, sometimes you don’t have big leverage, but you almost always have small leverage.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:36
And then you have the option of advocating and changing your talent pool, making big changes very gradually.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:37
I suspect a big part of this is starting a movement, in a way…

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:37
Creating language, creating awareness.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:38
If we can do that as a design community, and then we can make that sexy, and enlist the high profile designers in endorsing it, that will change the field.

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:38
@erin in your experience do you find that your end users place priority on the ability to set the character to one that resembles themselves? i kind of wonder if on a budget you’d be able to be inclusive by having something that is almost a ‘one size fits all’ type of approach

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:38
Right now I think the awareness levels are not especially high. I know I don’t see nearly as much as I’m pretty sure is out there.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:39
@sandyho7: great question.

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:39
@erin i date to say that sometimes its not awareness but a lack of exceptance in diversity

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:39
*Dare

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:39
I think that’s a case where the options that you provide them are going to set a tone that conveys to them that authority structure

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:39
acceptance*

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:39
excuse the typos

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:39
i.e., if your characters look like humans of real world races, yeah, a lot of them may choose avatars that look like them

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:39
but if all the characters are blue or green, they’re not going to have that option.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:39
That is the kind of power we have as world creators.

 

enthusielly
2016-05-10 23:39
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erin
2016-05-10 23:40
I’m trying to think about your question itself more closely…

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:40
I’m not sure about the one size fits all approach, I almost suspect going in that far other direction is the way to go.

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:40
@erin so you feel like people choose a certain type of ‘look’ based on what they feel the idea is?

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:40
ideal*

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:40
Right, totally, I think they’re following the fiction.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:40
I’m pretty sure that you could test this, and that there are hundreds of little design affordances that communicate to players what the ‘right’ answer is.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:41
Some of it they bring to the table themselves, but it’s a very stubborn user that manages to resist the system fully.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:41
Especially with a game, where the first thing you’re doing is setting the rules – with the shape of your menus, with the sound of your voice acting.

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:41
cos you think about people who play Sims for example or those alternative life games and some people pick to be characters completely different to who they see or feel they are

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:41
Thousands of little semiotic cues that we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:41
Yeah, I think if you look at it that way, there’s a diversity of player archetypes in terms of avatar choice.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:42
I think Nick Yee has done a bunch of study on this with World of Warcraft and a few other MMOs.

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:42
@erin so it’s more about context – maybe for that article before, people were upset about Rust if they were chosen as female because we tend to think that women aren’t comparable to men in survival situations.

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:42
ooh interesting I’ll look that up

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:42
Nick’s work is great. He has a book out now that collates a lot of the stuff from his website, the Daedalus Project.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:42
Rust is an interesting case.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:42
I think part of it is that they changed things midway through.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:43
Players always get pissed about that.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:43
Then I think you also have the charged atmosphere of the hardcore gaming community.

 

vernon
2016-05-10 23:43
Have you worked on personas that are inclusive? If so, how were they inclusive?

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:43
So if it was a mainstream audience you would not have gotten the same backlash.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:43
@vernon do you mean visually, or beyond that?

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:43
@vernon that would be super interesting and difficult!

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:43
@vernon and do you mean sort of design personas, as in assumed users, or characters?

 

angelia
2016-05-10 23:44
has joined #ask-erin-hoffman-john

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:44
@sandyho7: I think your point about Rust and the survival context is important too, yeah

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:45
@sandyho7 I played a game recently entered in the Games 4 Change competition that was about this – about unconscious bias about race and gender in the context of a zombie survival game

 

vernon
2016-05-10 23:45
Inclusive in any way that the user group or archetype has characteristics so that we design products/services that better meet everyone’s needs. Am I making that clearer?

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:45
I think so – so that sounds like your personas in the design phase

 

vernon
2016-05-10 23:45
Yes.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:46
That gets complicated, because eventually if you move out that circle of inclusivity you get to that danger of trying to make something for everyone

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:46
You can do that, to an extent – it’s an interesting exercise

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:46
I think it’s important to create accurate personas of diverse audience

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:46
and evaluate your product from the perspective of a lot of those points of view

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:46
you’re still going to have a core audience

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:46
but it kinda defeats the purpose of having personas does it not?

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:46
I think it means just being a bit more deliberate about deciding who your audience is.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:46
Like what really brings them together

 

lynne
2016-05-10 23:46
So sometimes you have to make a deliberate choice NOT to give users what they want in the name of being inclusive? For example, if your user research indicated that many girls wanted a princess avatar.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:47
Thinking beyond things like race and gender and ability and more into something about them

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:47
I think in an exercise sense, it’s worth trying to create the same personas without the big categories, and see if you can then apply that persona to people of many different cultural backgrounds

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:47
So a sort of editing process in the creation of your personas

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:48
I suspect it might actually lead to being more accurate about who your audience is

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:48
because something like ‘divorced mid 40s white female’ is probably not even an accurate audience descriptor – because there is so much variance inside that persona

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:48
we just think it is because we look at things at a surface level

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:48
It could be that my game perspective and the way we use personas is fundamentally different

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:49
We tend to describe a persona as “plays Sims and Bejeweled and Cafe World”

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:49
as opposed to the persona that “plays Age of Empires and Samurai World”

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:49
heh

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:49
they’re behavioral characteristics rather than cultural characteristics

 

jellybean
2016-05-10 23:49
By editing process in the design of personas do you mean leaving out the stuff that can make us stereotype (eg like your example of a divorced, mid 40s white female)?

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:49
I’m a white divorced woman in her 40s and I’ve never played any of those games :wink:

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:50
@jellybean I think I mean sort of turning it around and looking at it from multiple angles

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:50
@hawk I could stereotype but it would likely be wildly inaccurate and that’s kind of the problem!

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:50
amazon style behavioral affinity is usually way more accurate

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:50
Hearing ya. I’ve never played any game FYI so that was mean of me.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:50
any game? how is that possible XD

 

lukcha
2016-05-10 23:50
heh

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:51
solitaire? chess?

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:51
hide and seek?

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:51
Not on a screen

 

mardia
2016-05-10 23:51
:flushed::flushed::flushed:

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:51
that’s kind of amazing still :simple_smile:

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:51
yup. my kids hate it.

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:51
try playing http://slither.io with them

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:51
@hawk not even minesweeper?

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:52
Not even minesweeper!

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:52
But I’m hijacking a valuable conversation now

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:52
And we have just over 5 mins to go

 

hawk
2016-05-10 23:53
So if you have a great question (or even not a great one) jump in now!

 

kristenh
2016-05-10 23:53
That’s interesting about behavioural personas. Do you ever include any sort of demographic type stuff? Is it ever useful?

 

lukcha
2016-05-10 23:54
Is there a process or stimulus in game design for thinking differently, being curious, having empathy for users, without stumbling upon things during user research?

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:54
@erin one of the things I learnt to do when developing personas is to think about their behaviours & needs; could you provide some practical examples of how that would look like from different persectives? (as a newb to the industry i find it hard enough to do the standard ones!)

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:56
@sandyho7 I think – what I’m postulating – is actually creating 1 persona that is behavioral, and then creating something like 5 or 6 variations of that persona that represent different cultural backgrounds

 

gittieatlas
2016-05-10 23:56
has joined #ask-erin-hoffman-john

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:57
I don’t think that this per se changes your fundamental product, but I think what it does is help you navigate around the problematic spots

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:58
I’m trying to think more explicitly about what that looks like practically speaking

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:58
@erin I’ll have to think about that a while to get my head around it!

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:58
In my head, what I see is a sort of folding and unfolding of the persona

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:58
Or baking if you prefer that metaphor

 

sandyho7
2016-05-10 23:58
baking?

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:59
Yeah – almost like, you’re creating a kind of dough, and you want to work it over

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:59
So you draw up one persona, and that’s probably the beginning

 

erin
2016-05-10 23:59
Then you create those 5 or 6 variants from different cultural backgrounds – trying to make the same person but from different perspectives

 

erin
2016-05-11 00:00
Then you rework your original persona based on the insights you get from looking at that persona from the perspective of people from different places and lifestyles

 

erin
2016-05-11 00:00
to center in on behavior and away from stereotypical assumptions

 

erin
2016-05-11 00:00
I’m sort of wildly theorizing here

 

sandyho7
2016-05-11 00:00
and then you’d be using the findings based on the affinity of all those slightly different personas to inform your design?

 

sandyho7
2016-05-11 00:01
haha sometimes wild theories turn out to be the best

 

sandyho7
2016-05-11 00:01
and the differences as potential points to watch out for?

 

erin
2016-05-11 00:01
Right, that’s right.

 

erin
2016-05-11 00:01
Or at least that’s the theory :simple_smile:

 

hawk
2016-05-11 00:01
we’re just about out of time here guys.

 

sandyho7
2016-05-11 00:02
@erin i would love to try that one day. sounds like we might have something here!

 

erin
2016-05-11 00:02
@kristenh: demographic info definitely very important – but it’s usually laced with assumptions

 

erin
2016-05-11 00:03
I think in the net what I’m advocating is skepticism of assumptions and cross checking against samples of what we think we know about demographics.

 

erin
2016-05-11 00:03
it’s broadly useful, but also dangerous.

 

kristenh
2016-05-11 00:03
@erin makes complete sense :simple_smile: thanks. you’ve sparked some thoughts.

 

erin
2016-05-11 00:04
awesome :simple_smile:

 

hawk
2016-05-11 00:04
@erin: You are an absolute star. Thanks so much for your time and thoughts today.

 

hawk
2016-05-11 00:04
I’ve learned a LOT

 

erin
2016-05-11 00:04
Thank you for this! I really appreciate the opportunity to talk about this stuff.

 

erin
2016-05-11 00:04
I think it’s a pretty new frontier.

 

hawk
2016-05-11 00:04
Agreed, but worth exploring.

 

erin
2016-05-11 00:04
:fireworks:

 

hawk
2016-05-11 00:04
Thanks to the rest of you for joining us.

 

RELATED:  Transcript: Ask the UXperts — Designing for Conversion with Aleksander Czyż
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