Responses by Steven Hey, creative group head; Frank Martelli, experience design director; and Joseph Campbell, senior developer, Wunderman Thompson Australia.
Background: “The site is designed to help younger people better understand what it’s like to live with Parkinson’s,” says Steven Hey. “It turns everyday ‘simple’ tasks into challenges by putting them through the filter of how different Parkinson’s symptoms affect those tasks: an unreliable keyboard that visitors have to use to enter a password—simulating memory loss—a shaking shoelace that visitors have to try to thread through a small loop, and a very difficult puzzle to represent mental confusion. It then provides more information about each symptom from the perspective of someone living with Parkinson’s.
“This is part of a larger campaign that included an experiential activation—a physical pop-up No Escape Room—and social videos. Given a limited number of people were able to experience the installation, the site enables many more people to experience the challenges themselves, find out more about Parkinson’s symptoms and donate to Parkinson’s NSW.”
Design core: “We’ve tried as much as possible to bring the real-life No Escape room experience to the digital world, while still making it fully accessible to all users,” says Frank Martelli. “As users navigate around the room, they are able to interact with and experience virtual versions of the real-life challenges that were created for the No Escape Room activation. From the teapot challenge to the daily struggles of trying to tie your shoelaces, each virtual challenge aims to truly show what it’s like to live with Parkinson’s every day.
“The whole virtual experience enables a much greater number of people to interact and experience the challenges than would have been able to on the day. We’re proud to be able to extend an amazing activation into the virtual world to be experienced by all.”
Challenges: “Re-creating the experiences virtually to truly give the user the full experience of what it’s like to live with Parkinson’s,” says Martelli. “There were many versions of each challenge where we had to go back and forth a few times to make sure they weren’t so hard that the user would just walk away, but also not so easy that the user assumes the symptoms aren’t as bad as they really are. Finding that balance was tricky, but we feel we’ve landed in the right spot with all of them.
“A good example of this balance is the teapot challenge, where the user needs to complete a simple task of lifting a teapot and filling a cup with water. To replicate the symptoms of Parkinson’s, and the real-life challenge in the No Escape Room, we needed to code in the variable nature of the pot feeling like it’s tied to an elastic cord while also considering the user’s drag speed, and steadiness controlling the pot.”
Navigation structure: “Given the creative theme of the site, we wanted people to feel immersed and even ‘trapped’ in the experience,” says Martelli. “The 360-degree space helps create that feeling, letting users explore the room as they would have in real life. Once they’re immersed in a single experience, they are then simply and quickly able to move between the experiences, while also emulating the feeling of being ‘trapped’ in the world of Parkinson’s.”