A guided and gamified interview tool to ease the experience of interviewing tough topics and collecting community-specific vocabulary around them.
How can design facilitate data collection and help navigate through tough topics?
An open-source tool for community-engaged researchers to adapt for their own research topics.
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HOW TO PLAY
Sensitive topics have the potential to cause harm
to participants, eliciting powerful emotional responses such as anger, sadness, embarrassment, fear and anxiety. (Cowles, 1988)
Off-topic is a game that can ease the pressure of being research subjects and enable the players to express candid perspectives on such topics.
An analog card-based gamified interviewing tool that is adaptable to many different research topics.
WHO IS IT FOR?
It is particularly helpful for community-engaged researchers, who are looking to navigate 'off-limit' or taboo topics. That said, it could benefit any researcher who wants to venture into a non-traditional method of interviewing.
WHAT DATA DOES IT COLLECT?
1. Immediate vocabulary around the topic
2. Community-specific perceptions and associations with the topic
3. The players awareness on the subject
4. Recordings of the gameplay that can be analysed according to research type
WHAT DOES IT DO?
For the researcher:
1. It provides a systematic method to navigate sensitive topics while interviewing
2. It includes an onboarding with mini-exercises to help adapt the template for your topic.
For the research participants:
1. It engages them in gameplay, enabling candid expression.
2. It helps them self-identify their position on the topic
3. It gives them a tailored information package at the end
What is Off-Limits?
The system has 4 large sections:
1. Download and setup: The behind-the-scenes tasks the researcher does to prepare for the game.
2. Gameplay: The flow of the game and effective data collection.
3. Tailored return pack: A follow-up method to give the participants information based on their current level of awareness.
4. Analysis of collected data: Understanding and analyzing the words and recordings collected
Image from Getty Images
How to play
You will need:
Pencil, paper, cards, tape recorder
1 researcher (R) 2 players (P1, P2)
The game includes:
1. Green cards (action)
2. Red cards (feeling)
3. Green themes (action)
4. Red themes (feeling)
5. Fact cards (follow-up)
6. Score sheet & rubric
• To start the game, the researcher gives a card (of the same color) to both players.
• P1 draws a theme card from the deck of the same color.
• R explains to fill the theme in A1 in the card
• R explains to fill the first three words that come to their mind in B
• R explains to write the next three words in C
• R explains that B is now off-limits and to explain A using C
• P1 describes A, P2 guesses and repeat reverse
• Players choose which side is off-limits for the opponent
At the end:
• The researcher collects the cards and plots the player on the score sheet.
As soon as the planned rounds of the game are completed, the researcher deals the 'Did you have fun' card. This helps gauge if the participants were engaged and felt like players instead of research subjects.
A follow-up interview is conducted in the form of 4 fact cards drawn one by one. The players answer in YES or NO. This helps the players self identify on a scale of Learner to Expert on the topic.
Based on the responses in the follow-up interview the researcher can instantly situate the player's awareness on the topic. This will be used to tailor a unique pack of information for each player. This helps reduce redundancy and leaves the player with an enhanced understanding of the subject.
Image by Tara Todras
The game ends with 5 quick questions disguised in the format of the gameplay itself. This follow-up helps situate the players’ awareness on the topic and give them a tailored pack of information based on their responses.
The back of the cards have prompts for the researcher to use during the game. These prompts act as a script for the researcher to promote free speech and thinking out loud.
It is incorporated in the graphic like a visual element which holds value only to the researcher who is aware of this purpose.
FURTHER AREAS OF WORK
I am developing worksheets and tools to ease the preparation required for the researcher to adapt the tool for their own topic. This will include online customisation, so that non-design researchers can digitally customise the template.
USABILITY TESTING RESULTS
The tool is being currently tested by sociologists and anthropologists tackling sensitive social topics and audiences. I am awaiting their results and reflections for further development of the tool to be completely intuitive.