I have always been very fascinated by technology and interactive spaces. As a student, I began to focus my research on interactive media, new technologies, and games for social change. Over the years, I have designed various new media projects, including several interactive games. As a User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) designer, I specialize in creating sophisticated user experiences that are unique, profound, and easily accessible from a human perspective. This section of my portfolio features samples of my work in interactive technology and experimental media.
An/Other is a short 3D interactive video game for social change that explores issues in society, challenges players’ perspectives on the matter, and attempts to change how people think about games. Released on August 31, 2015, An/Other is based on extensive research with an 80-page research paper available. It is recommended to play the game fully before reading the paper.
An/Other is my major research thesis project on Games For Social Change for Master of Arts in the Media Production program at Ryerson University. An/Other was exhibited at Media Mix 2015, the Hand Eye Society’s Game Curious 2016 – Identity, and Game Furious seminars, and the 2016 Toronto Comic Arts Festival’s Comics Vs. Games Exhibition. An/Other has also been featured in the news reports by the Torontoist, The Toronto Star, Metro News, and CityNews Toronto and was discussed on the radio program Mediation Station. An/Other and my research on Games For Social Change were also presented for the Principles of Game Design course at Sheridan College, where I was invited twice to speak as a guest lecturer in 2017.
Who Are You? is a psychological 3D video game that challenges our perception of identity and forces players to reflect on their personality throughout a series of questions, culminating at a conclusion where players learn what their choices say about themselves. Do they accept the results as who they truly are? Is there any meaning in the result or was their journey more important? That is a question only they can answer.
Who Are You? was my New Media undergraduate thesis project and was released on March 20, 2014. It was featured in the META 2014 New Media Graduate Exhibition, the 2014 Level Up Showcase, and the Ryerson University Transmedia Zone.
Joyspark Video Game Interface
The Joyspark controllers are custom video game controller interfaces I created for gallery exhibitions featuring my video game projects. Originally developed for Who Are You? and used for An/Other with the aid of a mouse, the Joyspark controller features a joystick and a single button to simplify the user interface and ensure an accessible experience. Inside the smooth red wooden box, the components are wired to a Makey Makey circuit board powered by USB. The inner parts can be accessed via unscrewing the bottom. Several prototypes were developed, and two finished controllers were crafted. They have been used as the main interface for all gallery showings of Who Are You? and An/Other.
This simplified interface was designed to make my games accessible for all users and audiences during gallery showings, without the complexities of modern controllers/keyboards or any need for explanation. This has proven successful at several exhibitions and events as the controller not only becomes an inviting focal point that attracts attendees, but is easily understood by users interacting with the project regardless of my presence or their age and familiarity with video games. This ensures a high ease of use and better overall experience.
Sparky Konga is an interactive audio-visual experience featuring the Nintendo DK Bongo controllers. The interactive Unity application was designed to allow anyone to have fun making music. The source code, however, was made in Pure Data and designed to be an open source library/framework for anybody who wished to develop games or new media applications using the DK Bongo Controllers.
Sparky Konga was featured in the New Media section of the Maximum Exposure 2013 gallery exhibition.
Checkpoint – Annual Game Industry Conference
Checkpoint is an annual conference I independently founded and organized as an executive and President of Ryerson University’s Game Maker’s Union from 2013 – 2015. Each year Checkpoint features several of the video game industry’s top professional developers from around Toronto as inspirational guest speakers for the Ryerson student community in a 3 hour conference. Each conference featured educational presentations by diverse guest speakers followed by Q & A. I organized every aspect of Checkpoint. Each year I arranged the venue, contacted individual game developers and companies, negotiated with guest speakers and their associates, promoted the event, hosted the conference, and consulted with companies such as Microsoft and Nintendo of Canada for raffle prizes and donations.
The above video is from the last Checkpoint I hosted and organized as President of the Game Maker’s Union in 2015. This was our strongest Checkpoint conference due to our amazing roster of guest speakers: Rebecca Brooker, a freelance game designer, Wei Zhang and Karl Merten from Vinyl Games, and Diana Arruda from Gameloft Toronto. Special thanks goes to Matthew Holzapfel for his assistance, and Wil Noack for recording footage of the event that I later edited into the above video.
3D Portrait Project
An experiment in 3D Printing, this project’s main feature was a 3D printed bust of my grandmother obtained through 3D scans using my Microsoft Kinect with Processing, refining the scanned model with Meshlab, Autodesk Maya, and Zbrush, and exporting it to a 3D printer. The second 3D Print is a body modeled in Autodesk Maya used for testing. Click the images to enlarge.
Novint Falcon Hacking Projects
These project utilized a specialized haptic video controller called the Novint Falcon. The goal of these projects was to hack the Novint Falcon controller and re-invent how it could be used. For the Falcon 3D Drawing project, I have used its capabilities as an input device with Processing and Max/MSP to allow for 3D drawings in virtual space. Users can switch between different modes and save pictures of their creations. Alternatively, for The Falcon Draw Project, myself and my colleague, Beverly Duong, use similar methods to reverse-engineer the functions of the Novint Falcon. This turns it from an input device to an output device using the controller’s internal motors to move a marker that draws due to an abstraction of gestures performed by a user on a drawing tablet.
The Blind Bug
The Blind Bug is a small robot that operates purely based on sound. Created with an Arduino and sound sensors, the Blind Bug will roam independently around environments and react based on its proximity to what it hears. If it hears a sound far away, it will be curious and investigate. If the sound is too loud and too close, it will turn around and run away. In addition, mandibles, powered by small motors give personality to the Blind Bug, moves in accordance to how it feels. The result is a robot that feels like a living entity that behaves based on the what it hears in its environment.
Pong Drawing Machine V1
This project was a class assignment tasking students to make a controller for the classic game PONG. My PONG controller doubles as a drawing machine, using an Arduino and a slider attached to a pen. Beneath the pen is a motor attached to a plastic cover holding a circular piece of paper. While playing PONG with this controller, the motor underneath spins the paper beneath the pen, drawing lines as it spins and the pen moves. The result is a unique, one-of-a-kind art piece record of a game of PONG in the form of the user’s paper. While the interface was crudely constructed it, was quite stable stable and fit the concept of the design.
Class presentations were followed by a class PONG tournament with everyone using their own controller interfaces against each other. The precision and stability of my PONG Drawing Machine controller interface allowed me to win the entire class PONG tournament, whilst drawing a unique record of it in the process.