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  • Quincy Kuang

Once a prototype, always a prototype.

Commentary on research paper "What do Prototypes Prototypes


Even before reading the research paper on prototyping, I have always been a firm believer of prototyping because this process is more exhilarating than producing the, so called, "final model". After reading the research paper, I reflected upon the project Charlie and I have been working on: most of our models and prototypes built so far seem to satisfy the needs of two corners of the "model of what the prototype prototypes", and I would say those corners are role and implementation. This fact is not surprising to me since I know from the very beginning that these two corners would need to be established first as they are the foundation we build our projects upon. Because we are making toys for children, who cares deeply about the play experience (as do their parents who buy for them), it is essential for us to figure out the role the toy must play in the experience. We tried to establish demonstrate the role of our game by hacking together a simple video that shows what kind of game/product we want to create. After defining our vision, we moved on to making a working prototype that would allow real users to test our toy. Even though this step might seem like a "looks and feel" prototype, I personally would categorize it in the "implementation" category since we were building with the many constraints of material, time and physics; qualities such as outlooks, experience and interface that would spark emotions were temperately neglected. Both Charlie and I know at this point that we need to start moving towards the "feel and looks" portion of the triangle, but we must further develop the implementation side before proceeding. Why? Because I believe that in the case of our project, the implementation attribute of our prototype sets a very important ground work for the looks and feel attribute. If we worry too much about how things will look as of now, we are pretty much throwing away the previous knowledge we learned about our toy, while adding unnecessary constraints to our design process. To conclude, I think that even though all the attributes of the triangle of prototyping is equally important to the success of a product, we must constantly evaluate which aspect at which point is more valuable and deserves more love. I have a liking towards works that shows a extensive process of prototyping because it means that the designer is passionate about his or her work, after all, a finished final product does not exist in the world of a designer who constantly seeks improvements.

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