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Exploring TRANSFORM (October 2019)

The trajectory for this experience began with the idea that,

"we could build and share expertise with a platform with great potential called Conductrr."

Designed to create SMS/phone call/social media/email driven interactive experiences.

But as social media sites increased restrictions with their API’s, Conducttr changed its focus from theatre to crisis management and their new design tool TeamXp had moved most of its functionality toward the creation of a customized web app which contained simulated versions of SMS/phone calls, etc. We decided to experiment within this framework anyway, drawn to its ability to create a branching narrative using a familiar text message style interface.



What we learned from Exploring TRANSFORM:

  • We felt successful in bringing a key cabaret aesthetic (breaking the 4th wall) into the digital experience with simulated phone and video calls that spoke directly to the player

  • Developed Conducttr/TeamXP expertise, compiling details about the pros and cons, as well as the usability of the platform in our use case 

  • Needing to create an username/password was a significant barrier that dissuaded users from starting, there was significant increase in participation once we removed it

  • Initial audience engagement was difficult when there was already so much messaging on marketing channels for the many shows in the festival; future projects will feature a separate time for rollout of Digital Storytelling initiatives

  • Last minute and overdue delivery of promised content from some artists, and development delays due to technical challenges delayed our intended launch.  An earlier launch would have allowed more organic growth with users, providing earlier feedback to iterate on the design, and aiding a project goal of increasing public awareness and sales for the festival

  • Users liked the text message style - we’ll continue exploring SMS-type interactive experiences, perhaps towards using a chatbot for future projects

  • Audiences did not want to use the experience on site preshow or between shows, this was their time for in person socializing

  • Not wanting to exclude any artists from the festival, we ended up with too much content, it would take too long to see it all, and we used a lot of time in development on configuring that content. 

  • Gamification (getting points for viewing content) got excited comments from play testers, but we set the points goal too high. Our expectation of how long players would be engaged was too optimistic

  • It would have been more beneficial to have built a smaller but more fully realized prototype earlier, to understand the limitations of the design tool we were using. Using the platform outside of its design focus (crisis management) meant that many features we wanted/expected were not available, but we didn’t discover this until after a significant financial and time commitment. The newness of the TeamXp platform meant we discovered bugs/limitations that needed addressing by their support team. 

  • Artists from the cabaret festival genres (music, circus, standup comedy, etc) were not very responsive to open-ended invitations to collaborate in this new framework, it worked better for them when specific types of content were requested, (ie interview questions, first person video speaking directly to the player, can you record yourself playing a song in your living room)

Working within a web-app design tool can limit options to make the website have accessible features such as closed captioning, alt-text on images etc.

The soundwalks created for TRANSFORM are not bound by time and can live outside the festival context. We’ll add to the collection of soundwalks as an ongoing project. Future projects will be built with consideration of continuing past the dates of the performance presentation


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