Familiarity Hypothesis

Although I consider this app to be foremostly an artistic endeavour, this doesn’t mean I can simply ignore user research. A creative app is quite pointless if no-one ever interacts or engages with it.

My hypothesis is that that people react with greater curiousity and desire to engage with a creative piece when they feel that they have a personal connection to it. This is why I believe that an app that is localised to a person’s own town and which features elements that are familiar to them, such as specific locations and landmarks, will evoke a greater interest and desire to participate; especially if the app has a bespoke creative feel.

The reason I mention ‘bespokeness’ is because I can think of examples of apps which appear to have a personal connection through localisation but don’t succeed in evoking a sense of ‘my town is the feature of this app’; not in a meaningful way. For example, Ingress Prime , a popular GPS based game, uses local landmarks such as statues and other public places like parks and so on, as key features of the game. However, in my view, the attractiveness of the local familiarity wears off quickly. In my village, for example, the local church and war statue are featured in the game. But, they are merely represented as generic sprites on a map. Other than a photo of the monument, when I click on the sprite, the experience doesn’t feel bespoke. It doesn’t feel like the app was made for ‘my’ town. It feels familiar only in a way akin to how any other kind of map based app does. In other words it feels, to me, like what it is: largely a data-driven automated representation of my locality. It’s nevertheless a really fun app. But I think it is missing the more familiar connection with my location that would make it feel more personal.

The connection with local interests is sometimes explored by existing popular games and other media. For example some Tintin books have been especially translated into regional patois, and special editions of famous board games at regional and even town level.

I chatted in a couple of comic-book and graphic novel social media groups about whether special town editions of popular series would be appealing and the reponse the very positive.

This is something I’ll explore further. I’d be interested to run a survey to try and understand how willing people are to perhaps try something that they wouldn’t normally try, if it had this kind of local association for them.

One Comment

Leave a Reply