Mini Thesis: “Advise Me” The Advisor

The Advisor is a persona that is one of the key themes of the piece “Advise Me.”

Without the Advisor, the Supplicant would not feel as comfortable asking for advice from a stranger.

There is something built between the Advisor and the Supplicant. I call it “false intimacy.”

AdviseMe: The Advisor from Laura Simpson on Vimeo.

This video is part of the interactive installation “Advise Me.” The Advisor lures in the advisee and begins the interaction.

What I learned about Design from “Five Rangers”

It would seem off for me to post an article about a thirteen part skit from the Japanese comedy show “Downtown” as a real and accessible lesson on design. Elements of design are continuously brought up by Dokura, the evil villain as he critiques the inept GoRangers. Questions of “Who is your audience?” “You can’t fight in that, can you?” and “Why are their two yellow rangers? People can’t tell you apart!” are raised and each week the Go Rangers raise different degrees of design fail. Below is a sampling of two of the amusing thirteen episodes. Be sure to watch the entire series.

Full Playlist for “Five Rangers”

Parental Advisory: These videos may contain adult subject matter and should be viewed prior to showing to sensitive audiences.


Mini Thesis “Advise Me” Design

Aesthetic Goals

– I want supplicants to feel the set morality and point of view they are receiving from the Advisor.
– I want some sense of uncertainty to arise from watching the videos as to whether they are altered or not.
– I want supplicants to have a different experience each time they access the Advisor.

Relevant Precedents

– Advice Givers:
Dear Abby
Dan Savage

– Web Video related Advisors:
Ask Prudy

Vision for the final project

– A video loop plays, instructing the supplicant to ask aloud for advice and then to come closer to the screen. After the supplicant approaches, a short social education video plays. This video may or may not answer the actual problems of the supplicant. After the video ends, the “Advice Giver” reappears, beckoning to the supplicant to ask for advice.

Mini Thesis “Advise Me” Production

Platforms and Tools:

– Language and Platforms:
Hardware: Arduino, Physical IR-Sensors
Software: Max/MSP, Arduino Programming Environment

– What are other tools you will need for audio, visual, and other components?



First Prototype on Friday April 9: Basic Sensor Function and Video Playback.

– Early Alpha 4/20: Audio Sensing and Infrastructure for Logic.

– Final Alpha (end of semester): Advisor Videos and Social Education Videos.

– Next Iterations: Multiple Advisor Personas to choose from and Different Social Education Videos.

Risks & Uncertainties

– The Role of Advisor still must be cast.

– Internal Logic to handle Advisor Videos transitioning into Social Education Videos is still experimental.

– The Social Education films might be too ambiguous. Further User Testing will hopefully help to establish context.

– Sensors can be rather finicky. Calibration is important to getting the correct outcome.

– Some users might want a more one to one result from asking for advice. Further modifications to the Advisor Video might be necessary.

Mini Thesis “Advise Me” First Prototype Spec


– My first Playable Prototype would have the basic functionality of accepting sound, then motion to trigger videos. The narrative elements will be very limited.

Prototype Logic

Interactivity: Sound from the User is sensed by the Max Patch. The Max Patch then plays a Prompting Video that solicits the user to interact with the sensors. The Sensors send data to the Max Patch via Arduino. The Max Patch controls the playing of videos based on sensor input.

Logic and behavior of any elements:
The Sound Triggers a Video Prompt to approach the Sensor. The Sensor triggers a video for the user to watch. At the end of the video, the Video Prompt starts again.

Logic and flow of any screens:
Advisor Films lead to a randomly chosen Social Education Films.
Eventuall the Advisor Films will be more varied.

Prototype Assets

All content, visual and audio elements that will be necessary for creating the alpha prototype:

Social Media Films
Advisor Videos
Max/MSP Patches
Infrared Sensors

Mini-Thesis: “Advise Me” Description

What is it?

“Advise Me” is an interactive installation that hopes to challenge your views on asking a stranger for advice.

What is the platform?

The Platform for “Advise Me” is based off of Max/MSP, Arduino and Sensors. The Max/MSP software will handle sound recognition, video selection/playback and interpreting sensor data.

What is the length of the user experience?

It varies, after the user starts to interact with the piece, the interaction can last as long as three minutes.

For what kind of user are you designing?

Considering that this is an installation, I am keeping artists in mind as I try to construct this aesthetically.

How do you expect to get it in front of these users?

After rounds of testing with some local artists in the city, I plan on submitting this work to galleries and artist run spaces/collectives.

What is the overall kind of experience that users will have?

I hope users will be intrigued enough to play along with the Advisor. After they ask to be advised and sidle up to the screen, they are given advice that doesn’t necessarily fit their lifestyle, particular problem, or is incomplete. The users reaction may vary. I hope that there will be a feeling of amusement from the social education video or disappointment from the Advisor not being helpful.

What are the sound, visual, and story (if any) components of the experience?

There are multiple components involved in “Advise Me.”
Sound: The user hears the Advisor give instructions, the user must start the interaction with the Advisor by responding to the Advisor.

Visual: The visuals are all videos. The Advisor’s interactions and the Social Education Films are all edited shorts.

Story: Each Social Education film is an encapsulated story. There is also the narrative attached to the Advisor.

Sensors: There will be either PIR or IR Infrared Sensors to detect the presence of the supplicant.

Mini-Thesis: “Advise Me” About

The Interactive Piece called “Advise Me” aims to address the concerns of prescriptive advice in the form of advice columns and social education films, that seek to impose the advice giver’s morality onto the supplicant.

“Advise Me” explores the ideas of prescribed morality, with the conservative American nostalgia of morality in particular. In constructing this criticism of morality and the I plan to have “Advise Me” exist as an interactive installation. A video loop plays, instructing the supplicant to ask aloud for advice and then to come closer to the screen. After the supplicant approaches, a short social education video plays. This video may or may not answer the actual problems of the supplicant. After the video ends, the “Advice Giver” reappears, beckoning to the supplicant to ask for advice.

PaxEast 2010: Indie Games

At Pax, it was a mishmash of big industry gaming, gamer culture, academic presentations and local gaming scene. For Indie Games, I was lucky to see Meigakure produced by Marcten Bosch. The concept of navigating on four planes of existence to acheive a goal is no small matter.

Concept: You start on one plane and open additional planes, which you navigate by moving blocks and shifting from plane to plane. Your goal is to reach an exit on the other side of the board, but you must activate the other planes and collect power ups along the way.

The comic, XKCD somehow distills some of the more mindbending aspects of the game. I’m looking forward to when this ships.
XKCD - Miegakure