“Zoom Icebreaker” — a team-building game

For this week’s assignment in my class on body-computer interaction, we were to continue the exploration of forms and how they impact interaction. We could either start working on a new sketch or continue working on one of the previous projects for this class.

I decided first of all to figure out our Octopus problem because I wasn’t sure was this the problem of Posenet or the peer-to-peer connection. Now I am ALMOST sure that this was the problem of ngrok and webRTC connection! I am still in the process of debugging the code that we had and will post the updated version once it’s ready.

Other than that I took the time to think of the final project for this class that is approaching, inevitably and fast. I have two options: create an upgraded version of my “Prayer ” project (I actually was hoping to work on it in this class) OR work on the idea that I got just recently, thinking on forms and presence in digital spaces — the topics that we have been discussing in the two last sessions.

Concept

I would like to make the “ZOOM ICEBREAKER” interactive game for professional teams that just start work together and barely know each other.

Before the game, each team member should take a quick “personality test”, something like this classic example, but hopefully funnier one.

After the test, each Player gets an avatar that looks like a certain shape.

Each Player can control movements of their avatar moving their bodies in the real physical space and looking at the screen OR wearing the headset.

All the Players should work together in a virtual space in order to build a specific pattern or achieve another goal that demands empathetic and considerate interaction.

In the process, Players can talk to each other as they do it, for instance, in VR chat. But they don’t see each other, they see the shapes.

The original test provides only simple basic shapes.

However, I want users to be represented as much more complicated, multidimensional forms in virtual space because humans are complex creatures!

I wanted to work with these beautiful forms since the math class last year where I first met them.

Scenario with simple shapes

However, I don’t necessarily refuse to use simple shapes for the first prototype so that the users could, for instance, build repetitive patterns like these.

The scenario of the game might look like that: find other people of the same shape in the virtual space and build the pattern together.

Scenario with complex shapes

The more complex are the forms, the more sophisticated might get the interactions between Players. Challenges might get more interesting while the rules of the game could be, on the contrary, more flexible. You wouldn’t need to look for a person of the same shape to form an interesting pattern.

Inspiration & backstories

The main inspiration for this project has been something I can call a “Zoom icebreaker phenomena”. We all attend a crazy number of virtual meetings these days and they might feel incredibly awkward if people actually see each other for the first time over Zoom. This might be really problematic if they need to start working together.

I’ve come across a few “icebreaking zoom-techniques”, and most of them were quite horrible and based on making a person talk about their favorite food in front of 10 unfamiliar people on Zoom or Google Meets.

I think interaction is always a better icebreaker rather than self-presentation. Also, one of my friends told me how helpful some physical activity might be during very long meetings.

Last but not least, about the personality test and the shapes itself. I have a psychological trauma related to it because I had to undergo one myself at the beginning of my freshman year in the undergrad.

The test was as simple as it can possibly be, we just had to pick one shape that could represent ourselves in the best possible way. I picked a triangle, then a zigzag, and then change it to a square. When the professor read the results aloud I felt deeply disappointed. That’s why I really would love to use complicated forms for every single user in this project.

Plan

I plan to use Posenet for getting the movements from the Players, Three.js for modeling the world and the shapes, ngrok, and webRTC for the connections across the network.

Considering we can go back to actual offices one day, I think there might be a version of the same idea built using Kinect, that can be used in physical spaces, in this manner, when Players see each other both in real and screen worlds.

*I also keep in mind that I might be working with a partner for the final so maybe this idea will change a little bit.

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