Dialogue with Time- Reflections

1. Briefly share your experience going through Dialogue with Time. What were some of the feelings, thoughts, challenges, and insights gained while role-playing an elderly person?


In the first part of the exhibition, there are all fact-based information boards and demos in the open space on the second floor, and I feel quite ok with the information load and have a more neutral mood. Then I went far to the end of the exhibition area and there is a machine that takes a photo of you and then it will generate a photo of the older you. I tried it and I felt that I look super bad, because the “me” in the photo have all the wrinkles, age pigment and darkened skin areas on my face, suddenly the idea of getting old got so vivid and unavoidable.


After doing activities with the instructors, we are introduced to another are which is colored with all pink and yellow colors. The pink and yellow setting is so different from the last room and I feel that we were pretty much isolated, which creates a good setting/environment for role play. The one that I remembered the most is Parkinson’s disease simulator, it got super hard where there is an unstable external force acting on your wrist. I tried to aim the key into the whole but due to the simulator, I can’t control my hand due to the simulator, I started to feel anxious and helpless, the emotion at that moment is so unique that no other medium can ever achieve, I think this is the magic of role-playing, which really puts you in other’s position rather than just telling you information.

In the video that is my friend and classmate Ayesha trying the simulator.


2. Drawing on your experience, can you think and list some of the benefits inherent in the design research technique of role-playing?

  • First-hand experience: The experience created is the most valuable outcome of the role-playing. First of all, the experience process and reading/watching experience are inherently different, as the experience is most likely to be multi-sensory, which creates a more immersed feeling. Secondly, the notion of experience has created proactive action rather than passively receiving information, which is more entertaining and relatable.


  • Better understanding: It will also help people to get a better understanding of some issues, especially the one that we experience: aging. As we are all in our early 20s, we don’t quite think of aging at all although we do see elderly people like our grandparents. The role-playing process had helped us to conceptualize and visualized the idea to keep it into our mind, and the issue is no more abstract but more relatable since we already experienced it.


  • More empathy/Potential changes created: I think it also helped us to developed a stronger sense of empathy which might actually lead to action. As we already experienced how hard it is to open a door or grab the pills as an elderly, we are now more willing to help them and try to think from their perspective rather than feeling troublesome or annoyed.


  • The intimate and unique experience for different people: I also think that each people will have different experiences of the exhibition, and each is unique, which creates an intimate relationship between the exhibition and themselves.


3. Can you think of some contexts where role-playing can be useful to help discover and define design challenges or contribute to the development of design solutions?

I think in the context of tackle the issue that women had in giving birth, it would be a good idea to make use of the simulator, etc. Also, it would also be helpful for the topic focused on handicapped people, a wheelchair can be used for other people to experience those difficulties that these people are facing in everyday life, hence the design of experience would be useful, for example, it could be a real game for people to do some easy tasks like cooking their own food, going to the toilet, grabbing some books to the bedrooms and so on, but they will have to bind their legs or hands and sit in a wheelchair. The designed experience will help people get a better understanding of the living situation of handicapped people.