The pax experience

« We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny, but what we put into it is ours »
Dag Hammarskjöld
UN Secretary General (1953–61)


Pax Warrior was built with the notion that the best and most useful learning experiences are those that motivate and engage us.

some design parameters:

The initial market for Pax Warrior will be the 14-24 years old demographic comprised of students in high school and early university. Based on our testing with this group a number of design decisions around issues of functionality and aesthetic have been made.

The design is also affected by this modules' intended deployment over low broadband networks [56k+]. File size -- network use -- is at a premium, and every message must be put forward with a radical economy of means.

Finally the subject matter of Pax Warrior -- the UN mission in Rwanda -- has its own responsibilities. Making an "Interactive Documentary" that has experiential simulation as one of its bases and collaborative learning as another, while powerful, needs some careful handling with regards to the delineation between these modes. Interactors need to know if they are in the fictive environment - a first person experience or in a third person environment such as the research area where the information has the documentary authority of history. While questioning information clearly adds to one's media literacy, issues of authentication and veracity present special challenges to the user experience design.
Pax has taken a number of creative strategies in the design and telling of the story that allow a conscientious construction of this ground breaking educational new media form -- "Interactive Documentary".

Design Overview: a walk through


Log In:

• Log in takes place after disclaimer has been read.
• users have an individual id and password
• users also belong to a group
• user history is loaded at this point by querying database

Story introduction: setting the stage

• Strident audio and stuttering images set upbeat jingoistic expectations
• Mission is set
• Foreshadowing in full effect
• “Sit back” experience

Hotel Scene:

• Explore this room via the panorama with panning audio
• Discover the characters and factions of the conflict
• “Sit forward” experience
• Every word said in here comes into play later in Story - pay close attention
• UI option will exist to revisit this room updated with timely conversations. What happened to the Colonel? Is he still onside?

Reconnaissance: the Jeep

• The hate radio blares and the country is unravelling. A kinetic sit back experience
• We travel forward in time. We’ll need to make some tough decisions soon.

Choice: counterfactual screen
Design + interface elements

(1) - “toggle zoom” sends user from 1st person experiential / counterfactual mode to 3rd person collaborative, group mode. (2) - Date in current simulation timeline [variable data stream] (3) - Teletype updates -- increases the tension [variable data stream]. (4) - “state of the nation” interface, gives your current status with world, UN, troops, as well as the Rules of Engagement [ROE]. (5) - global navigation - not available till you have gone through once. (6) - conflict resolution tension model - updates visual based on your actions

Choice: Decision point set up

• Sets the operational parameters for your current dilemma.
• Gives you a clear question to respond to.
• Loaded dynamically -- as are the options.
• What is available to you depends on your last decisions.

Choice: Default choice clip positions

• Default position shows all questions for quick viewing
• Invitation to choose - move mouse into position to click- will invoke the drill down

Choice: mouse over active

• Having mouse over choice maximizes[opens] that choice, minimizes[closes] others
• Revealing what is known and what might be anticipated as an outcome for this option.
• Each option has audio “click in” and a hum begins, growing harsher over time.
• Data is live and is served to user based on user history, level, group parameters.

Outcome Screen: The Result of your last action

• Your last choice [and the combination of all others before] netted you this outcome
• Can you live with this outcome?
• Each image is a thumbnail for a short video
• That ticker at bottom never stops. How do you deal with the information fog of war?
• Note the State of Nation section at left is available here as well as in decision screens.

State of The Nation: Activating

• Rolling over activates top level “state of the nation” [SOTN]
• And then clicking opens SOTN drill down

State of the Nation: First option active

SOTN  information hierarchy is as follows:
• Thumbnail [UN, World] - always visible has active and inactive state
• Title and precis of info nugget - on mouse over
• Title, subtitle and full info - when clicked to activate

State of the Nation: text field specs

An apercu into production.
• Setting these sizes as absolutes allows us to model the information on the database to fit required layout
• Ability to either scroll or have multiple pages of info allows for wide variance of size in the full info drill down.

Research story: default

• Remember the “toggle zoom” [at right on top and bottom] zips user from decision screens to research and collaboration screens.
• This is default state as one enters.
• Note the minimized toolbars on right and on bottom left.

Research story: mouse over

• Placing mouse over image zooms image from 25 -> 100%
• Tool tip type text gives you meta info on article / posting
• Structure includes contextual information -

Source = what magazine site book
Author = words were written by
Posted = who placed it within Pax.

Research story: selected

• View a story
• Add to the research data by adding or annotating a story
• Use stored searches to find a story
[Hey now that you’ve found a useful story you can share it with the rest of us by using the add a story interface!!]

Research story: links

• And of course you could share your sources too!
• Opportunity here for sorting, filtering and rating articles.
• Can we build our knowledge of history together?
• Mouse over of links object reacts, zipping open links, minimizing story.
• Of course the opposite is also true - the story viewing object also reacts to mouse.
!! This technique is consistently used in this entire UI. An expectation has been set.

Research story: links active

• Add and rate links in here
• Note the orange drop tab at bottom left - physically dropping a story thumb on to this pop open tab is the first step in saving and organizing your [or your group’s] favourites

The epilogue: [not shown]

a dynamic recounting of your path through historical events.


The Living Monument:

• Audio based dynamic narrative
• Reactive screen
• As you mouse over a cross a voiced narrative, the eulogy of one of the victims begins • each cross contains a spoken narrative you can access.
• Each cross adds a tone building into a rich sustained minor chord drone
• Pause for contemplation here, what was the real impact of this genocide?


Contact Us  | Terms and Conditions  |  Copyright