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Dad's on Dinner Duty - A Meaningful Experience

Dad's on Dinner Duty - A Meaningful Experience

20 Sep 2020 - Jake Sherwood

Dad's on Dinner Duty - A Meaningful Experience Dad’s on Dinner Duty - A Meaningful Experiencet

Dad’s on Dinner Duty - A Meaningful Experience

For Performing Reality the assignment was to create a meaningful experience for one.

Since I am mostly staying at home, my “one” was pretty much limited to either my wife or my son.

While I love giving Jackson experiences, it seemed a little easier to try to design and document an experience for my wife.

Here’s a little backstory, pre-ITP, we used to share most house duties. Including cooking and cleaning etc. Since we’ve been back in New York and I’ve been swamped with grad school and freelance work, Elif, my wife, has definitely picked up the majority of those duties.

Much to her chagrin, the daily “what should we do for dinner questions?” are not something she looks forward to.

In my ideation process I landed on, “clean the house and make dinner for my wife.” It would give me the opportunity to do something nice for her as well as create an experience.

Luckily she and my son were gone for the day so it let me get things set at home.

Jackson had ransacked our apartment before leaving, which also helped set the stage perfectly.

Knowing I was busy, she would never be expect me to cook and clean for her mid semester.

To further set the stage, I messaged her throughout the day about how much work I had. Followed by a standard, “what should we do for dinner” text.

Meanwhile I was busy straightening up and prepping for dinner.

After some great advice from Nikhil, I thought deeper about how I could design the dinner conversation. Aiming to make more of an experience, I decided to use a bit of misdirection and discuss the meaningful experience project over dinner. But I would lead her to believe that I still wasn’t sure what I should do.

This should be fun if I can pull it off.

In an attempt to create a better experience, I identified some of the Directing Fundamentals concepts in the experience I was designing.

root conflict: wife is tired of dinner duty
root action: husband cooks dinner
inciting incident: texting wife about what to do for dinner?
crisis: nobody knows what to eat or wants to decide or cook?
catastrophe: wife having to decide what to eat… again
climax: wife returns home to find out husband cleaned & prepared dinner
climax2: wife realizes she is having the experience
denouement: relaxing date night dinner together and wife doesn’t have to think about anything

The main constraint on the experience, was misdirection. I would be discussing the experience project with my wife. All while she was actually having the experience herself. It was also only really able to be experienced at a certain time, after my son goes to bed. On top of that, if they hadn’t been gone for the day I wouldn’t have been able to pull it off.

After cleaning, prepping, cooking and testing multiple hidden camera angles, the stage was set and they were on their way home.

The camera wasn’t in the best hiding spot, but I crossed my fingers and hoped she didn’t notice.

Once I settled on the concept I storyboarded out how I thought it should look, and tried to identify some camera angles.

meaningful experience storyboards

Figuring out how to document, with a hidden camera, starting and stoping in between her getting home and putting my son to bed was challenging. But it mostly worked out…

She never saw the camera, we had a nice dinner, we had some great conversation, and she got a break.

So riding high after the experience which went off without a hitch, my heart sank as I reviewed the footage, only to find a 1 minute clip. OMFG what happened??!?!

Quickly becoming an experience for myself, and a bad one, I had to let it go. It was done, the experience for her worked, it was meaningful. I just had technical problems. E.g. my dog ate my homework.

Accepting my fate I pulled the SD card and went to my laptop for further investigation.

Elated and bemused, I found that somehow there were multiple 1:00 minute clips. It wasn’t the whole experience, but the 2 major events were there.

Her returning home to a clean house and dinner, and the moment she realized she was in the experience.

The documentation video and the story would have been clearer with the conversation about the project, but it still works, kinda…

Dad’s on Dinner Duty video:

What I learned
1)Deciding what to create for an experience with limited users / experiencers is hard.
2)Trying to be thoughtful about what you create helps see a bigger picture.
3)Even when you design an experience but the user is unaware they are in an “experience,” they are still having their own experience.
4)It’s always a good move to do nice things for your wife.

1) Technical difficulty: I’m still not really sure what happened with the footage. I started it pre-dinner and stopped it after. But somehow only had the last 7 minutes of the conversation and the SD card had ample megabits available.

Who knows. Chalk it up to tech gremlins… At least there was still enough to stitch a small video together.

2) I don’t think I could do this experience again. It was really designed for one user, my wife. And at one specific time.

categories: performingreality

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