Finalist 2021

64 Ways of Being

Troy Innocent / one step at a time like this / Millipede / Creative Victoria / RMIT University

An augmented reality journey that invites players to see their city through new eyes.

64 Ways of Being is an urban adventure that brings Melbourne’s laneways, streets, parks and rivers to life via mixed reality – to create a conversation with the city about its past, present and future.

Drawing on Indigenous knowledge and Melbourne’s multicultural communities, the project embeds location-specific participatory artworks - ways of being - throughout the city, prompting players to reimagine the world through urban play.

This place-based experience speaks to the many layers of knowledge and identity encoded in the city, and reconnects people with place through an inventive blend of performance, game design, and mobile technology.

Design Brief

Can an augmented reality journey engage players in a compelling and engaging place-based experience that allows them to reimagine and reconnect with their city?

Create an immersive and accessible public art experience that:
- is ambitious in scope and scale;
- is COVID-safe;
- has the potential to create an enduring legacy through widespread audience and community engagement; and
increases tourism to and visitation within Melbourne.

Develop a creative methodology that:
- enables extreme collaboration across disciplines;
- is informed by urban play research;
- provides a platform for musicians and artists.

Deliver a mobile platform that will:
- blend public and live art with game design;
- connect players to Melbourne’s past, present and future identities as expressed through its creative, linguistic, cultural, social and urban diversity;
- provide a number of journeys throughout inner Melbourne in partnership with local government and public institutions; and
- embody research into new creative collaborations and methodologies that make the city playable.


This project was developed by:

Design Process

In response to the ambitious brief, a cross-disciplinary team came together to workshop multiple situations combining the four elements of a ‘way of being’: play, place, language and emotion. These were explored in relation to design constraints: imagining different types of players, a typology of possible locations, the affordances of mobile devices, and the constraints and opportunities of consumer-level augmented reality. A proof of technology and short video mapping the core game loop and user experience was produced to pitch the project.

The team brought together knowledge and experience in public art, game design and live art. The collaboration meant developing a bespoke design process that blended game development, dramaturgy and performance, music, research, sound design and visual art. Starting with game development as the lead creative methodology, a draft design document informed development of a ‘vertical slice’ representing the core game loop - consisting of listening, and being led, to an augmented reality encounter. This was playtested before moving to the next stage.

A key decision in the design allowing the project to scale to multiple situations and locations is the use of templates that were developed in consultation with the entire creative team. These made the project feasible to realise and established workflows for audio production, art and animation.

The production of content ran in parallel with technical development with key milestones driving the timeline for public playtesting, using interviews and surveys to collect feedback on the experience. At key points in the design process, interviews with speakers of over thirty languages, cultural consultation with Indigenous elders, and engagement with stakeholders in local government and cultural institutions uncovered stories and knowledge about locations planned in the journey.

Finally, the completed journey was playtested with a diverse group of participants before being launched to the public.

Design Excellence

While augmented reality is typically used to superimpose visual content on the world around us, our project takes a more spatial, situated approach based around five principles of urban play: (1) interactivity, (2) sound, image, touch, (3) urban materials, (4) immersive theatre, and (5) a live storyworld. It balances aesthetics, function, and safety to deliver a quality experience that choreographs the movement of players. This situates augmented reality in a meaningful relationship to story and place, combining immersive qualities of theatre and the adventure of urban exploration with an imaginative game world. Also, by transforming existing urban environments via a digital layer, it presents a sustainable platform for public art with minimal environmental impact.

The user experience design responds to this approach through three clearly defined functional layers: a main menu, introducing the work and showing people where it is located and how it can be accessed; an audio based, guided narrative experience leading users through each journey; and augmented reality encounters that immerse users in each geolocated way of being. Locations are mapped via GPS so that content seamlessly plays in response to place, and the minimal interface design maps the user’s journey via emotional cartography. Selected locations avoid sites of heavy vehicular traffic or other hazards while still including a wide range of different urban environments in the journey.

64 Ways of Being sets a new benchmark for place-based experiences delivered via mobile technology. Every aspect of the design has been created with connection to place in mind, creating a holistic journey that engages all of the senses: eyes, ears, touch, taste, smell. Each augmented reality encounter is crafted for a specific location creating immersive and participatory environments that explore the creative potential of the platform to evoke internal emotional states, and ways of being in the world.

Design Innovation

Over the past year, arts industries have been shut down by the pandemic with large-scale public events postponed or cancelled. 64 Ways of Being responds with a creative platform that is COVID-safe offering a self-guided immersive urban adventure playable anytime, that includes the work of over thirty artists. The Melbourne CBD journey connects story and place with Indigenous knowledge and environmental history across a three-hour journey. It’s a show that you experience within the privacy of your own phone, with close contacts, that reactivates and reimagines public spaces post-lockdown.

The project offers three new features to support its unique approach to place-based augmented reality. Firstly, it is an inventive blend of performance, game design, and mobile technology. Secondly, it works with this blend to create a seamless, immersive journey that flows between walking and listening, and moments of play and reflection across multiple locations. Thirdly, it activates these locations via augmented reality connected to story and place situating the players as the central character in personal, intimate encounters. The player is asked to put their phone away while walking and be immersed in the soundtrack as it scores the streetscape, bringing it back into play for intense moments of connection.

Its design is centered around this experience. As the player encounters each place they engage in a conversation with the city – by following characters, activating architecture, discovering hidden worlds, playing with strangers, and talking with objects like trees and rivers. Working with conventions and language from digital games, such as walking simulators and art games, the player becomes an embodied, urban avatar. Through audio instruction and on-screen cues, the app prompts them to move through the city, to observe and look, to play and explore without time limits or competition - to play the city in their own time.

Design Impact

Our project has many positive social impacts. First and foremost, by helping to revitalise the city of Melbourne as it opens up again: by bringing playable art to the streets and encouraging people to engage and connect with the city in new ways. It features Indigenous knowledge, stories and language developed in consultation with Woi Wurrung and Boon Wurrung elders, whose voices feature in the soundtrack. It also presents a commercial opportunity as a platform for musicians and artists as new journeys are produced in Footscray, St Kilda, Collingwood for 2022, and at regional locations planned for 2023. The Melbourne CBD journey features the work of thirty different local and Indigenous artists.

As a new form of public art, the platform cuts waste and uses minimal materials by working with the city itself as a creative material for place-based experience. It creates an immersive experience with everyday technologies - a mobile phone and headphones - to deliver a three-hour show that reimagines the city as an open-air theatre. Furthermore, by reconnecting people with place, some players have become more mindful of environmental issues and the impacts of urban development - such as changes to Melbourne’s waterways that shaped the course of the Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers - resulting in an additional environmental impact of the experience.

64 Ways of Being makes three contributions to Victoria’s design and creative culture: firstly, the establishment of Melbourne as a playable city opening it up to further playful, public artworks and urban interventions; secondly, the lasting impact of the work on the city itself as experienced by thousands of players and its connection of people and place; and thirdly through the design of a unique creative platform for place-based experience made in Melbourne for Melbourne contributing to its reputation as a creative city.

Digital Design 2021 Finalists

Automated Briefings and Correspondence - ABC

Sophie Turner / Jasmin Hamid / Ben Kirk / James Stuart and the DPC Operations Team / Engage Squared / Rapid Circle

Rarau mai Living city

OOM Creative / Auckland War Memorial Museum

Yalinguth

Storyscape / Max Piantoni / The Wurundjeri Council (Uncle Colin Hunter, Charley Woolmore) / Melbourne Community Indigenous Film Collective(Uncle Robert Bundle) / Yarnin Pictures (Uncle Bobby Nicholls, Rebecca McLean) / RMIT University – MAGI (Chris Barker, Kate Cawley) / Melbourne University Design (Janet McGaw, Jillian Wallis)

GetMee

GetMee / Education Centre of Australia - Loren Dsouza / Deakin University - Professor Pubudu Pathirana / Ally Kim - Beta Customer / Anjali Kushwah - Experience Designer / Mary-Anne Quezel - Leadership and Emotional Intelligence Coach / Suzanne Northey - Behavioral Therapist and Psychologist

ACMI website

Liquorice / ACMI