1990’s-style chatrooms come to Mobile App Design
The concept of Sup is that it’s a text/chat app with a twist: a return to 90’s-style AOL chat rooms. The impetus behind the concept was to bring immediacy to discussion forums by turning them into virtual chat rooms.
The problem in current social media, including Instagram and Reddit, is that the comments on posts or subreddits either lack directness or lack individuality, respectively. One result is that conversations and commentary either become brittle, reduced to emoji responses or platitudes such as “Great!” on the one hand, or obese, where the ink-to-(reliable)data ratio is too high (just consider a long, meandering subreddit post rife with misinformation created by a user who is anonymous and therefore less accountable). Reddit, though providing more in-depth discussion, lacks avatars and thus depth in a user’s individual persona (the only metric is of the user’s up votes and karma).
One of the most important features in Sup is the group chat UI. Users choose broader topics, which cascade to more particular topics for which there is a group chat. The app functions as a chat room—like back in the 90’s AOL days— or as a public (i.e. socially accessible) Whatsapp group chat. To accommodate this functionality in an up-to-date manner, the UI assimilates that of today’s generic mobile chat/messaging apps.
Sup answers the problem of forum users having too little individuality. Sup lets the user create a personalized “Sup’rite”—an avatar sprite accessorized and designed the way the user wants. Some stumbling blocks included what-if’s such as: what if a user lacked the design skills to create an attractive avatar? (one answer to this is an auto-color feature, as well as template accessories); or, what if a user wants to upload a photo for their avatar? (this constraint still exists in Sup, to avoid granting users over-blown individuality).
Gamification meets Motion Graphics Design
Radical social, technological, and business advantages through incorporating gamification into design are already widely acknowledged. Flot incorporates gamification into watching videos. Currently, Flot consists of character design and motion graphics prototypes as a video game/animation hybrid. Flot includes a magical, floating whale that traverses dreamy skyscapes. The game is currently designed for 2D (with the possibility of extending into 3D and VR).
The concept of an ultra-lush, tranquil, strikingly passive gaming experience with a heavy aesthetic bent towards the sensuous answers the problem to stress-inducing, adrenaline-pumping and most of all violent video games that are available in today’s game market. Though the subject is surprisingly less researched than one would like to believe (in light of so many mass shootings in the United States), research findings lean toward a correspondence between aggressive games and users’ aggressive thoughts and behaviors (see the article, “Violent Video Games and Aggression”).
The concept for a bulbous, massive character induces a sense of the sublime (a term from the 19th-century literary and visual arts movement, Romanticism), as well as a sense of humility in the user. Flot incorporates no game controls, further establishing the feeling of the sublime in the user. The only challenge in Flot is to meditate on the majestic floating whale (and hopefully to bliss out while doing so). Thus, Flot introduces a hybrid experience between playing and watching. This can induce a sense of calm in the user, as well as a feeling of contentment with lacking any user agency. In turn, the user’s experience of these feelings may reduce the user’s frequency with aggressive thoughts and behaviors.
Watch/“play” Flot with the sound ON:
In addition to utilizing smooth vector graphics and wispy gradients that convey a meditative peacefulness, Flot incorporates a retro, pixel aesthetic whose jagged, clunky line quality inspires a pacifist, jazzy sense of adventure in the user.
The UI for Flot is simple, austere and uncluttered. The extreme white background and washed-out logo for the UI make the game feel “pure” and almost mystical.
Flot was made with: Adobe After Effects, Illustrator, Photoshop, Affinity Designer, Procreate