I’ve been having an email conversation with the fascinating Erin Hoffman-John about taking part in an Ask the UXperts session, and the conversation got on to the intersection between design and authority.
One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is the intersection between design and authority. When we design we create the rules of the universe for the thing we’re making, and those rules become affordances, which enforce what the player/user can and cannot do. There is an ethical dimension to this. One of the clearest examples we see in games is around avatar selection, and even gender selection – avatars, which gate so many game experiences, reinforce the gender binary and leave gender-fluid people of all kinds confronting their lack of representation in society every time they create an account. The user experience reinforces the societal authority. It gets a lot more subtle than that, but it’s a conversation that I have not heard the design community really have, that relationship between design > rules > authority > ethics.
I’d love to hear your take on this…