Digital Embodiment

Character design is a crucial part of portraying a person as we immediately make inferences about people based on their appearance. When playing Dangerous Embodiments I was surprised the extent to which I started creating stories around the character models I was playing and by how much my imagined stories differed between character models even though the surroundings were the same. Creating character models is difficult for our projects though because we have little to no visual evidence for the paupers we are looking at. We know what the clothes they would wear look like, however, the physical appearance of paupers is rarely mentioned in the transcripts. This leaves us tremendous amounts of creative license when creating character models. While we should ensure that the models are historically accurate, we must also be wary of what emotions and thoughts they will elicit from users. What muddies the water is that users will have modern perceptions and stereotypes that they will apply to the models of historical figures. This can be used as a teaching moment to expose users to their usually unconscious modern stereotypes and even prejudices. One of the reasons studying history is important is that it can help inform current decisions, so drawing out users’ modern prejudices by applying them to a historical figure and showing how they don’t fit would be a great way to make users wary of their stereotypes. In practice, it may be hard to do and would require an introspective and alert user, however, it would be worth the work to make users question their beliefs and prejudices.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *