Week Four

Phase two of my research is now in full stride. I’m currently attempting to answers three questions:

  1. What is homelessness?
  2. What causes homelessness?
  3. What can be done about it?

I arrived at these three big questions after a simple brainstorm around homelessness. I wrote down all of the questions that I wanted the answer to and traced each back to these three primary questions. My hope is that by finding the answers to these questions, I will gain a better understanding of the challenges homeless people face. So far I have attempted to answer the first question, but my research on this alone has made me realise just how large the problem is. Hopefully with further research I can discover some of the root causes of homelessness and what can be done about it. However, the more I find out about this grim subject, the more I’m convinced that there’s not much that I can do. The people who work in homeless charities and dedicate their lives to helping others, whose work has a tangible impact on people’s lives are doing more for homeless people than I could possibly do by making a game. Even so, I would like to have some message in my game, to make players think if only for a little bit. If I can manage that, I will be doing a good job. And who knows, maybe It could help people, indirectly at least. I think I’m slightly pessimistic because I’ve been watching sad documentaries for a few days, maybe I should take a break.

Aside from my research, on Tuesday we learned about header files and how to implement matrix multiplications in C++. Prior to this week, our experiments with matrix multiplications was all done on paper, but now we had a chance to see the paper work translated into actual working code. Unfortunately, a lot of the lesson was just spent copying down code from a screen. I like to think that there is a better use of our time than just doing a slow copy and paste job. That’s not to say I didn’t learn anything, quite the opposite, I just think a lot of our time was wasted. Time which I would have preferred to have spent working on my research.

I think the frustration I feel is probably a result of the workload this week and not just Tuesday’s lecture. For whatever reason, this week has felt like I have too much work to do and too little time to do it in. It’s probably because I have a deadline approaching for my Writing to Publication module. I am however enjoying writing another short story, I have been told that I’m quite good at it. Which is always a surprise to me, because I hardly ever read and never practise writing.

Just like last Friday, we had another workshop, this time with Jussi Parikka. He gave an informal talk about Speculative Design or Design Fiction. It’s an interesting methodology, where by you design for all possible outcomes, whether they be good or bad. You think about the future and ask “What if?”. In groups of three we were encouraged to focus on bad design, or designing for evil. We came up with awful ideas to make people’s lives that tiny bit more terrible.

Here is our group’s brainstorm:

We got to play at being evil for a bit, so it was a fun workshop. Although purposefully designing things to be bad isn’t something we’re usually encouraged to do, so it was quite difficult. Perhaps I will employ some speculative design in my research, it could be interesting to imagine “What if?” scenarios when it comes to homelessness. That kind of thinking might be good for answering my “What can be done about it?” question.

I think this week has been fairly good, I’m definitely feeling the time pressure, but I’m optimistic that I can get everything done that I need to. Next week I’m planning to have answered my remaining research questions and also completed a research document. This document will be an overview of my research so far and what my plans are going forward.

Week Five

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