Face to Face with Facade 3/5

Are the not-ready-for-prime-time Trip and Grace of Facade ready for their spot in the classroom?

When I first heard about hypertext (yes, HYPERtext, dating myself here), I was in a classroom and George Landow was performing what seemed to me to be magic. Now, my guess is that most people have encountered electronic literature of one sort of another (even if I exclude games) before they reach the classroom. (This alone could be a post, but let’s table that discussion for another day). That said, I still feel that the academic classroom is a useful vehicle for use in missionary work in the evangelical transmission of my own particular tastes teaching the appreciation of literary and artistic new media. Just as “film appreciation” courses offer theoretical tools to students who are already literate in the vocabulary of cinema, I see a need for “new media appreciation” courses.

This semester, I have exposed a group of students in Advanced Composition in the Writing Program at USC to Facade. The course has been investigating disciplinary boundaries with respect to writing and the use of various cultural objects in the development and application of those disciplines.

After a brief presentation on Facade with the encouragement to go off and explore it on their home computers, I asked them to respond to the following questions:

  1. How would your discipline approach Facade?
  2. What theories might your discipline apply to its study?
  3. What use might Facade serve in the classroom for your discipline?
  4. Can you imagine another version of Facade or system of autonomous agents that might better suit your discipline?

My implied thesis is that an interactive program like Facade might prove to be useful in more than just (interactive) writing courses. I will let the students teach me the rest.

Coincidentally the makers of Facade gave presentation at USC on Wednesday.

See the previous thread about Facade.

31 Responses to “Face to Face with Facade 3/5”

  1. 1 Dianne Garcia

    To me, Facade would be a media-based artwork. In USC, the Fine Arts department offers intermedia classes which deals with computers, videos, websites, etc. as mediums for fine art works. Fine Arts will probably approach Facade as a new technology-based art medium that is interactive, commenting on culture, the breakdown of culture, its philosophy, the representation of human figures etc. I can see Facade as part of a discussion in an art theory class. I think the discussion of the Ego and Freud’s theories may apply to the characters of Facade. Trip’s character would be interesting to analyze under Freud’s Oedipus theory, but that would mean finding out more about his history.

    Trip and Grace’s relationship and obsession with how their apartment looks would probably fall under Lacan’s theory, of the Mirror Stage and Desire in Representation. Part of their relationship problems lies under the tension of wanting to appear to be a happy, normal couple in front of their guest, but they couldn’t live up to their own image of the ideal couple.

    I think the design of the game would catch artist’s interests as well. Especially since even though the characters are drawn in such a flat style, but they can still emote like real people from the way they talked and especially from their expressions. Modern artists like to break down the realism and make things more representational. Facade’s characters are definetely a non-realistic representation of people, but through the game, interaction with them feels quite realistic.

  2. 2 Christy Dena

    I think it could also help with discussions about human-agent interaction (HAI). It could be a discussion not only about their own interactions with the bots (a spoken account of your thoughts whilst playing or a post-interaction reflection on the experience or an observation of other players), but also an analysis of the way players have experienced the work (the posting of anarchic transcripts online for instance).

  3. 3 Lian Fournier

    For East Asian Studies, this interactive software could simulate different types of cultural interactions between two entirely different cultures (i.e. Occidental and Oriental). Interactive programs would be used as a teaching and learning mechanism. I wouldn’t say that theories from East Asian Studies would be applied to the program, but instead through the program. A new language, through programs like Facade, could be explored with respect to visual culture. It would help to have the spoken language and visual feature combined so that the vocabulary is heard as well as seen. Obviously the program would have to be formated to an Asian language input. At this point there doesn’t seem to be any other multi-lingual interactive software available.

  4. 4 Mark Marino

    There is some hope for this cause, Lian, especially at USC where Lewis Johnson has developed “Tactical Iraqi,” a program for teaching Iraqi through interaction. [WRT post about it here] Since conversation is a key means of teaching language acquisition in the classroom, it’s natural to follow this route for computer-aided instruction. The Asian language input is, on the other hand, another problem of the hegemony of English on the Web.

  5. 5 Jared Chausow

    Dialogue is a very difficult aspect of creative writing. A writer creates a character–his personality, his physical characteristics and his perspective. The writer has to imagine what this character would say in certain conversations. Facade allows writers to play out conversations and learn how two different characters would reply to almost any statement. Additionally, the sequence is available in the form of a script after the game is played.

    The writer would not necessarily use the exact responses of Facade’s characters, but they may inspire other ideas.

  6. 6 Deborah Jacoby

    As a Theatre major, I think that my discipline would use Facade as a tool to explore the action = reaction response in relationships and how we study the text. If we are using facade for a scene study, we can see how our own imput and choices within the scene can be broken down into beats and objectives for all the characters. We can also see how when the obstacles are changed, for instance the character you are playing decides to help them more, the objective for the couple may change. Also, generally, the improv theory of saying “yes” to every offer is used in Facade. Although the characters do not always understand every offer you make. The scene does not seem as successful when Trip and Grace do not respond. I’d say another version of the system would incorporate subtext to the characters. Perhaps an inner monologue feature to make the scene and all the characters more dynamic and easier to analyze.

  7. 7 Mark Marino


    That’s an interesting point about improv. You say another version of the system would incorporate subtext. I understand “subtext” to mean something like the meaning or intention behind the spoken line. The Facade lines seem to have this trait, as when Trip offers a drink in his new martini glasses, meaning, “Please indulge me in a display of late-won wealth,” or something like that. Do you mean that another version might make this subtext explicit?

  8. 8 Armando Potter

    Facade represents an ideal program for application to the field of communication. Facade takes users through a digital communication scenario and communication scholars could spend hours dissecting how and why certain communication acts take place within the program. However, the interpersonal relations between Trip and Grace are most prominent in Facade and the field of communicaiton would no doubt like to analyze why the interaction between Trip and Grace seems to be doomed to argumentation and agitation. Grace seems to be too agressive while Trip is too passive aggressive and these personality types clash, causing breakdowns in communication. There is a constant negotion of balances of power and ultimately, neither character really listens to the other.

  9. 9 Kristen Stone

    I can see a variation on Facade being used as an interactive training tool for journalism students. The scenes could play out as an unfolding news story with the user taking on the role as the reporter with the task of observing and conducting interviews to ultimately compile a report. Like Trip and Grace, it could have standard characters as witnesses somehow involved that have their own story to tell. Each would have a scripted monologue to an extent, but like the regular Facade version, the outcome depends on how the user as the reporter interacts with them. Choosing to talk to different people or asking different questions each time would create a different way of reporting the story. The user could see their final story scripted out at the end. It’s an interesting way to get journalism students experimenting with the process of reporting and asking questions in a way where they’re using the same skills they’d use in real life journalism.

  10. 10 Jeanette Der

    As a Kinesiology major I would be able to apply certain tools learned from our Biomechanics class to enhance the body movements that Trip and Grace produce making it more realistic. In Facade the only type of body movement seen is of the legs. There are no hand movements. When the guest arrives and gives them a hug the viewer does not actually see the two individuals touching each other with their hands. With some knowledge of biomechanics, a kinesiology major can change the angles of the joints based on the ground reaction forces placed on the foot from the ground. At least in this way there will be some movements at the joints during certain movements and would make the whole facade program (or at least Trip and Grace) look more realistic.

  11. 11 Erika Tucker

    Facade could be an appropriate lesson in various aspects of the English discipline. Facade could be used to develop storylines for fiction assignments. By typing in different responses, and studying how Trip and Grace respond, dialogue and behavior can be used to generate ideas for a short story. Printing out the script of a Facade experience would provide ample material and ideas for story-writing.

    I think Facade would also be an important tool, not for the college English major, but for younger students of English. My Spanish classes in high school offered computer games similar to this that helped develop Spanish language skills. Facade can be used either for beginning English students, helping them see how Trip and Grace respond to the comments they add to the screen, or for more advanced English lessons, where students are required to type correctly with accurate spelling and grammar, and study Trip and Grace’s interaction.

  12. 12 Alisa

    I think Facade can be another teaching tool in education. Teachers can incorporate Facade into their classrooms, just like Mr. Marino. Students will learn the basics of a computer and communicating. Since Facade was designed to only react to certain comments, students will learn to communicate properly. They can also analyze the script after playing and see how they influenced others’ behaviors. Facade will be another technology experience for the students and will have some kind of impact of the children.

  13. 13 Stacy Lee

    Facade would be an appropriate tool for communication majors when studying nonverbal communication. By examining Trip and Grace’s nonverbal cues of body language and tone of voice, students can study how they coincide or differentiate from their words. Also, students can see how the player’s words (without any context of tone or body language) are interpreted either correctly or incorrectly by Trip and Grace. For example, the slang phrase “That’s wicked” could be interpreted as true evilness or a coolness approval. The point is, without tone or body language, Trip and Grace may or may not interpret the words as intended. Another way to use Facade would be in the study of communication conflict and resolution. This is an excellent tool for practicing how to bring two adversaries together and to get them to work together in agreement.

  14. 14 Brandon Howard

    My application of Facade is similar to that of Jared’s, in that using the program to get a sense of responses to certain dialogue would probably be the most beneficial use of Facade in theatre. Though the ensuing conversation may not be as logical, to us, as a normal conversation, Facade can be used as a tool to guide our listening and communication skills. Such skills are particularly important for improvisational actors, who have nothing on which to build a scene other than what the fellow players provide. Facade allows for continuous exercise of this notion of give-and-take, particularly notable by Trip and Grace’s tendency to lead on the player and keep the story going in a certain direction, even if the player does not respond sufficiently. For actors, improvisational and otherwise, reaction and response are crucial for a believable performance. While situations in Facade may not evoke our personal, natural reactions and responses, they allow us to step into a character outside ourselves and explore alternate possibilities for active listening and communication.

  15. 15 Leslie Fehr

    Facade offers the creative writer a quantifiable exercise to combat writer’s block. Sometimes a new idea is hard to come by, and a student from my discipline could use this interactive storytelling software to spark her creativity. However, one drawback to the exercise???s incredibly tangible nature is that it is finite. The program would be exhausted after only several uses. Once the scenarios begin to repeat the program ceases to work as a tool to combat writer’s block. A more advanced commercial version with multiple scenarios and characters could definitely be marketed to creative writers as a tool for combating writer’s block.

  16. 16 Ryan Kiser

    Facade is a pretty interesting program. It is kind of like an adult role playing game that decides the fate of a couple. I looked at the 4 questions and have no idea how it would relate in any part to kinesiology. Kinesiology is the science of the body and its movement, so maybe I could examine how they get to move through walls and we can’t. Relating it to this semester’s classes, it does not relate to physiology or motor learning in any way. However, I just realized that maybe biomechanics could do something with this. I think it would be more of a test before the program was released. Biomechanists could maybe see if the people move around realistically…like not through walls, or the bar, or into the glass case surrounding the room. Other than that, I cannot come up with anything.

  17. 17 beers

    I really liked watching people play facade because I think it is a very funny game. I guess this relates to language studies because the game is based on communication. It is interesting to look at what words are recognized by the characters and which are not. I would be interested to know how many words/sentences these characters know and why some words were programed when others were not. Overall, I really had fun with this game.

  18. 18 Jenna Larsen

    As a psychology major, I found Facade to be very useful in understanding interpersonal communication. In watching others play this game, you see the dynamics of relationships and how important communication really is. I think it is a wonderful tool to help couples in therapy to be able to see how they are communicating and what it looks like to an observer outside of the realtionship and can provide useful knowledge to be able to change as individuals which would help communication in the relationship.

  19. 19 Janine Kahn

    I’m pretty sure that those trying to tap resources to teach the academic side of journalism would look at facade as a good place to practice for a real world interview. In facade, you enter an environment that you (more likely than not) have not been in before, and are made to interact with people you’ve never met–and end up trying to get information out of them in order to “win.” Halfway through the interactive experience, you realize that you’re best off supplying helpful supportive phrases and letting Trip and Grace do the talking in order to reveal things to each other and fix their relationship. The same skills are needed in an interview, wherein the journalist has to learn to quit butting in and let the interviewee/s do the talking. Were facade to be tweaked such that a student of journalism were to find himself in a one-on-one communication with a possible “source,” I can see the program being beneficial to the classroom environment.

  20. 20 Andi

    As a Communication major, I found the game very interesting and different from anything else I have seen before. I am not very familiar with video or computer games so it was a new concept. I find it creative from the facial expressions to the images. The music was very depressing and dull. In addition to that the colors were simple which created the over all feel to be very dark and cold. I think it is clever how each player can pick a different name based on male or female preference. It seemed that it didn’t matter if the player was male or female because either way Grace and Trip did not really get along. I like how this 3D virtual world seemed very real at times and poorly coordinated at other times. Overall it was something I have never seen and I actually find it fascinating and motivating towards the future of video gamers. M discipline plays well into this because it is mostly based on communication. Theories can help explain why Trip and Grace respond the way they do to each comment that is typed. Facade can relate to communication technology and emotional communication through non-verbal cues.

  21. 21 Laura Willens

    I am also a communication student, and found facade to be very relevant to the field of communication. Particularly in terms of interpersonal communication this game deals with many of the basic axioms of relational communication. The characters are always communicating something to one another, whether it be through their spoken conversations or nonverbal signs. It would be interesting to go through the scripts after playing the game and analyze how the computer responds to verbal cues typed by the player. You could also note the different responses to certain nonverbal gestures, such as hugging, kissing, etc. However, the characters do not perform as many nonverbal cues during the game as they do verbal ones. It would be interesting if they could develop a similar game with more varied facial expressions from the characters in response to the verbal and nonverbal cues of the player.

  22. 22 Christophe Nassif

    In terms of filmmaking, I totally agree with your comments. When building up a scenario, it is useful to get some input and inspiration to create these “actions-reactions” in relationships. I would add that Facade could also be very useful as a visualization tool, where a filmmaker can get an idea of setting, camera moves, etc. Unfortunately, so far, the software does not offer such customization, but it does offer the filmic point of view of a character (whoever is playing) facing Trip and Grace.
    The script that we can see when the game is finished also proves to be valuable as a starting point: though the story is already written in the game, the angry-couple scenario is fairly common, and student filmmakers could use this output and deviate from it, adding/removing elements to it, in order to come up with a different script.

  23. 23 Deborah Jacoby

    Yes, but I was thinking more in terms of their end revelations. I want to know more about the characters. They touch on some areas like what they enjoy doing and what there childhood was like. Maybe it doesn’t need to be explicit and that could be the exercise for students to determine so that the objectives of Trip and Grace are clearer within the scene. It might be useful for a student to use facade, make a character analysis of Trip or Grace and then use the text to act out the scene again based on their own analysis.

  24. 24 Caroline Yoon

    I totally agree with Jenna’s statement. I am also a Psych major and I believe Facade can be helpful. For example, it can teach us to communicate better with the opposite sex and it can be used as a demo for couples to observe and learn being an outside spectator.

  25. 25 Isatanov

    as a photography major i think that i can comment on their weeding picture and make them reconcile on showing them that everyone has their ups and downs and that they were happy enough to get maried

  26. 26 Helen Shvarts

    The game, FACADE, is really quite interesting. It can definilty be a great asset to the Communication discipline. The entire game focuses on interpersonal relationships, and it could be used in the field of communication to help improve the essence of what it is to have a successful interpersonal relationship with someone.

  27. 27 Boy Wonder

    Something like Facade could be expanded and used to develop diplomatic political skills (for the field of political science). The ability to assess and then solve problems, whether they involve oneself or several other parties, is critical in international relations and public diplomacy. Facing political disagreements in a text-based fashion, without an option to use military reinforcements, would force politicians-in-training to think carefully about conflict, and use the most powerful weapon at their disposal - empathy.

  28. 28 Conrad

    From a film standpoint I think Facade is an excellent example of the impact of sound on the mood of a scene. Early on the soundtrack sets up an eerie feeling, forshadowing what is to occur between Trip and Grace. Later on as the two spiral more and more out of control so too does the music, hightening the sense of urgency felt by the gamer to help the over-dramatic couple.

  29. 29 loiseau

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  30. 30 loiseau

    Nous nous permettons de vous contacter pour vous indiquer les possibilités de communication en enduits traditionnels teintés par les sables.
    A travers un procédé élaboré par l’entreprise SOREFA et MEMO, nous sommes à même de pouvoir vous proposer une communication de qualité, en enduits à base de chaux et sables spécifiques.
    Vous pouvez visualiser notre site www.sorefa.fr
    Bertrand LOISEAU :
    Sincères salutations

  1. 1 WRT: Writer Response Theory » Blog Archive » Computers in the Compostion Classroom (Great Debate)

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