The last few days I have been sketching and designing a wearable controller. I went to sleep dreaming of the playstation controller and somehow that started to inspire me and I woke up mid way through the night needing to begin sketching because I had an idea!
For some reason I had this light in my head when I went to sleep. It is a light which shows the symbols on a Playstation controller and it got me thinking about the way these buttons define different actions and control actions in the game that can't be simulated (like the joystick which controls direction etc..) What I started to think about was how this could relate to a wearable and the body. I was thinking of using each limb of the body as a different button essentially. It would give you different controls depending on how you move them and in what combination. (I did start thinking about how this would affect inclusive play for players that have impairments that may affect any or all of their limbs - but I didn't want this to limit my sketching process for the moment). I have thought about the idea of a Japanese style onesie, the Kigurami. Using different coloured sleeves and legs to depict the different buttons and possible actions as a starting point. Keeping the main body a blank canvas for the imagination to take over.
I quite like the idea of an all encompassing costume, how the action of putting on this onesie takes you from the real world to the game world and the power of the controls comes from this act of "getting in to character" the "ceremony" of dress up.
I have a little bit of dressmaking experience from my past in fashion, however I have never created anything for children or in smaller sizing. My thought is to create a template that can be scaled from small to however large it needs to go, by first getting an idea of the appropriate proportions by creating an adult sized one which I can adapt to my own body. This prototype could also serve as a main shell to insert things like the technology to test the best way to work it / place it and have a piece I don't need to be precious about because I would be able to test it function wise myself. I could hopefully test things like range of movement myself too, although I understand that a child's development of movements and flexibilities isn't as advanced as an adults so adjustments will still need to be made during playtesting with the kids.
I set about trying to find a pattern which I could scale up and located a Kigurami pattern online which I have sketched on to paper and created paper and fabric mini prototypes (about the size of a small doll) to get an idea of how it all fits together. Then used this to scale up the measurements (I have chosen to multiply by 10.5 - this is to get the length to be larger than my height) with a bit of extra length so that I can adjust where necessary once it's all together, to get the idea of the proportions and sizing. I used to do a bit of "fit modelling" during my internship at Dreamland where myself as a taller than average person and a few others that were outside of average sizing, would be measured up in samples to ensure that the fit on the scale was perfect for the "average customer" but would also be a good fit for those who fit outside the norm. So I have an idea of where to start in adjusting.
From there I was able to sketch the pattern out on cardboard and use that to translate the pattern on to fabric and cut it accordingly. I also decided that now was the time to experiment with the colours and dying the fabric. I have never really used hand dye before, but what experience I do have has never worked the way I wanted to for various reasons, but unfortunately I couldn't find the colours I was looking for in the same fabric so I felt like this was the best choice. The dying process is relatively straight forward, but not really an exact science. The way fabric is produced or coated including the composition of the fabric can have an effect on the colour results, as well as the amount of water, salt and temperature used. I was also quite limited to a range of colours, I just had to hope would come out the way I was expecting. (see the results at the end)
After the dyed pieces had dried it was then time to sew everything together...
And the results...
As you can see, I need to make some vast adjustments particularly to the main body. The drop waist isn't very practical as I felt like I was falling over my knees - which if my assumption is correct would make it even harder for a child to move. The dyed fabric hasn't quite came out the colours I was hoping for with the exception of the orange. Although this seems like a minor detail now, it will be something to consider if I am going to be using the colours within the branding, as I want a coherent feel and things such as differences in colour, even subtle ones can be enough to lose that coherence.
There is still a little work to do to make this prototype where I would like it to be, before I start adding tech etc... to it to test. Although, I did have a few further thoughts about the idea based on a conversation at Guru's day and another What if question...
I want to keep modifying this idea further to be able to have something quite quickly that I can start testing with. Although, the sizing has made me question whether this is the best approach because the difference in children's bodies between the ages of 4 - 8 might make the overall experience less accessible or "one size fits all" and might implement barriers for players to get involved. I still think it is a line of inquiry worth keeping open and exploring though.
I also need to start thinking about the logistics of a wearable made of fabric for children. It's going to NEED to be washed. So how do I make it so there is easy access to the non washable electronics, so it is straight forward enough that nothing gets damaged in the wash.
I am off to the V&A in London, videogames exhibition next week as well as off to visit Lego House in Billund, which I am really excited about. We were told this week that our presentations for the interim presentations will be due on 7th December, so I will continue to work on my presentation to hopefully get it finished before my trips (with perhaps space to slot in photos, insights and findings etc... from those trips) to make sure I can complete the deliverable on time.