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Works in Process: Advanced Typography A1 R&D

  • Works in Process is a series that explores work as I’m doing it, to show all the research, design, hemming, and hawing that develop along the way. Sometimes it’s a deep dive into school assignments as they progress, or personal work after the fact, with sketches and process clips. But either way, it’s always the rough bits, perfect little Jonowen scraps. 

Advanced Typography | Phase 1:R&D

Project structure: In this first phase of our main semester long assignment, we were tasked with exploring the research and development process of bringing an idea from inception to fruition. Conceptualizing a multi-day event of our choosing, we would discover what kind of mode the event could best embody, and then begin to develop design concepts from key insights from our research. Exploring this process operates as an important step in understanding how many overarching design applications are developed by design groups for clients, from start to finish. 

In my first inklings, I knew I wanted to do an assignment involving Table Top Role Playing Games (TTRPGs). This is a recent hobby of mine, and one I’ve grown to appreciate so much as providing me with so many important things in our modern context of information overload and interpersonal isolation. I’ve been able to grow together with a great group of people, playing alongside them, as well as develop meaningful characters which have acted as lenses through which to explore different aspects of myself. I knew an event around this area of focus could be something valuable. 

For my research process, I scoured the internet far and wide for topics about table top, from information on other events, to think pieces on table top gaming. I knew that there were groups like Dames Making Games in Toronto that were operating at that nexus of gaming and intentional inclusion, and I was also able to find many other sources (primarily shared below via Google Doc). Taking info from those stories, event pages, websites, and academic papers, I was able to generate data points that I organized into a chart to gather my thoughts. 

As I researched, I learned how valuable TTRPG spaces can be for providing a safe and welcoming space for people to socialize in, especially if they otherwise feel alienated from society. Reading for instance about DnD at the ROM, I saw how table top gaming could be used as a learning tool as well as a welcoming social environment for low stakes interaction, and that’s where the idea of my even formed: A table top gaming even with workshops and game play centered around creating and cultivating inclusiveness in gaming, especially for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders and/or social anxiety, but also for people across barriers of class and wealth, racialized people, and LGBTQ2IA+ folks. As much as many areas of table top gaming have been sequestered in minds as the proverbial basement dwelling European high fantasy dudebro swinging a flail around, I’ve seen wonderful environments of inclusion with goals for welcoming more people and using the gaming space as a safe place to explore things together and intentionally outline with ‘lines and veils’, things we all together want to keep away from or only reference in passing, for the benefit of all in the gaming space and I wanted to make an event that embodied that goodness. 

(Unfortunately, to my knowledge the Format blog platform doesn’t allow HTML embedded code windows, so follow the link below to see all my research scrap notes and links)

Research Scraps

After structuring the type of event I wanted to pursue, I began to consider what kind of insights could be drawn from the theme to a design iteration. As I studied more stuff, and looked up a ton of images on Pinterest, I was able to come up with these three key insights as the basis of my pursuits:

Role Play as Safe Social Space 

table top gaming can be a safe medium for
people with social anxiety, on autism spectrum,
who feel excluded, etc. to socialize in a structured
and welcoming environment.

TTRPG as a Learning Space

table top role playing games can also be a
tool for learning, aspects like history or math,
but also aspects like identity, politics, and more.

TTRPG Mechanic ‘Area of Effect’ 

In tabletop games, many spells have an ‘area
of effect’ that defines where they happen. This
area, a space of inclusion, the effected area
containing those ‘inside’ defined by a bounds.
This concept can be elevated to define the
event: in a place where all are welcome to
play, we are all in the area of effect (often
abbreviated AoE).

Drawing on TTRPG as a means for low stakes socialization and learning, and with the concept of ‘area of effect’ as a reflection of the an in game mechanic that represented what I wanted to capture, I conceptualized my event: Area of Effect. I studied the themes and images I collected and developed two design concepts. 

‘Area of Effect’ Creating
an Area for Effect

Coming from the concept of connecting area of effect as a game mechanic, and the desire to have the event be a space where everyone is inside the ‘area of effect’ of the inclusive space, I developed a design idea that would use the in-game concept as a basis for design. Typographic shapes could extend to produce linear forms, telegraph outward in form to array a cone of area, or expand beyond its rounded space to create a radius of effect. These typographic areas of effect would then dictate the design of the information layer by their formed environment of space, negative space, line, and area. 

Gaming Space & Space for Belonging

Along my research, I became fascinated with the numerous images people drew of their adventuring areas and dungeon spaces. I became especially fond of the numerous isometric environment images I found which could show exploded versions of an area in an aesthetically pleasing but also informative way. I thought that this appealing application also mirrored well the idea of the inclusive space of the event, dungeon space, fictional ‘real’ in-game spaces, reflections of real created spaces of inclusion and belonging. This developed into an idea of using type within space, either mimicking the isometric plane to express dynamic form, or interposing text on perspectival spaces within the composition. 

After presenting to class and getting feedback from classmates and our professor, it was agreed upon that design concept two, Gaming Space & Space for Belonging was the best concept to move forward with. 

Next, while developing a design schema as a bounds for application of the design concept, I’ll develop two possible design concept directions within the theme and generate examples of media for further along in the project in those modes as a way of narrowing in on the best direction. 

See you in the next post!

to see the whole catelogue of images I found while researching in this step, check out my Pinterest Board used for research. 

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