Massey University College of Creative Arts ALIENS!

  • Te Kapa Tauira / Student Team
    Shannon Fortune, Hannah Wedlock
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Tim Parkin, Donald Preston

Aliens! They're here and they've stolen Wellington's treasure: the bucket fountain buckets. Fortunately, their presence has left trails; your mission is to follow these and retrieve the artefacts...

Adults in this fast-paced world risk becoming creatures of habit, treading the well-worn but understimulating mental and physical paths of their mundane work environments. Since departing childhood, city workers frequently neglect to foster their wonder and curiosity, despite its many benefits. Within the context of responding to a 300 level brief focused on increasing everyday wellbeing, we saw a strong opportunity for design’s positive impact through enhancing effective lunch breaks.

ALIENS! is a humourful social intervention system that interrupts the daily routines of Wellington CBD workers to encourage explorative flexibility, refresh mindsets and create a greater awareness of and kaitiakitanga for the urban environments in which they spend their lunchtimes. Interacting across digital and physical media, participants will follow unfamiliar trails, enjoy learning fictional and factual stories, and create community through friendly competition. Using a Trojan horse method to instil values of wellbeing while avoiding unhelpful self-help connotations, the project’s main focus is on taking notice, keeping learning and being active (from Mental Health Foundation’s ‘Ways to Wellbeing’), incorporating these into interactive gamification.

Lunch breaks were selected as effective situations in which to stage main campaign interactions as it is when the audience is free to pursue richer wellbeing, though often don’t. We sought to facilitate the separation of detrimental work-saturated thoughts from time set aside to mentally rejuvenate. A bright, bold and youthful style was used to communicate energy and vitality, reflecting the intended attitude gained through participation. It is a mixture of sci-fi video game and mystery, nostalgic of simpler times of leisure and relaxation. It’s clear to read at a glance and is easily transferable over a wide range of media, an important factor for a system utilising many touchpoints in order to feel ubiquitous. The app is intuitive and allows the user to feel immersed within the game, an approach that releases workers from the idea that reality must always be practical and pragmatic.

Through teaching healthy habits in taking effective breaks, ALIENS! meaningfully addresses wellbeing through both one-off and sustained interactions. These create a simple but significant lasting impact; workers becoming predisposed to pursuing new experiences, embracing spontaneity, and enriching their workdays through fostering a healthy mindset. Humour within the fluid illustrative and textual storytelling is designed to appeal to a grown audience - fun yet self-aware, amusing without being patronising. Melodramatic and faux-serious tones in the human defence response juxtapose the quirky alien attitudes (who are ironically engaging in business-minding activities) - a satire on the over-professional CBD way of life. The trails, app, files and wider dossier were created to present to Wellington City Council with the intention of integrating the participant into the gamified world, superimposing fictional onto reality and blurring the lines between everyday encounters and imagination.