A Real Breath In A Surreal World

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Following up on my last post on Winter products, I took a look at the rest of my Winter items. One of the more popular products lately is winter oriented. It’s a teeny wearable particle effect simply called “Breath”. You wear it on your chin and you “breathe” out steamy winter breath every seven seconds. Just like being outside on a truly frigid day.

Some may say the cloud is bigger than it should be, but I disagree. I designed the effect to match my real life experience. And that experience is based on severe Canadian winters, where the air temperature can fall to as low as -40 degrees. (Celsius or Fahrenheit? It actually doesn’t matter at that temperature; it’s damned cold!)

In that weather you really do get a massive cloud of vapor surrounding your head, and that’s the reality I modeled this product against.

This is one of those items where matching reality actually works in Second Life, as opposed to the surreal giant snowflakes I described earlier. But that poses a problem with design approach that’s been bothering me - should one match reality? Or should a maker produce unreal items? Which is the correct approach?

My conclusion is that neither is the correct yardstick. Instead the measure of success should be the feeling generated by the product. The problem is that “feeling” is a very difficult thing to measure. Maybe this is where those with an artistic eye come to the fore, because they are more able to intuitively recognize the feeling produced. In the end what matters is how well the product alters the feelings of its user, and that could be achieved either by reality or through surrealism.


Anonymous said...

Hehe, as it happens, it actually doesn't matter at all whether it's Celsius or Fahrenheit, because -40° is where the twain shall meet. :-)

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