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hello empathy Discovery Session @ Singapore Design Week 2023

Singapore Design Week (SDW) 2023, organised by DesignSingapore Council (Dsg), happened on 21 Sep to 1 Oct 2023, with the theme of ‘Better by Design’.

Marketing collateral of SDW 2023 by DesignSingapore Council


This year’s theme of ‘Better by Design’ is a call by the council to challenge designers to tap upon their designs and creativity to create a better future, as it marks its 20th anniversary, by trying to lead the industry towards a more compassionate and public-spirited direction.


The theme of the festival matches WeCreate Studio’s approach towards design, and we were pleased to be invited to be part of the Design Impact pillar showcase of the festival.


Marketing collateral featuring hello empathy by DesignSingapore Council


Participating in SDW 2023 provided an avenue for us to continue outreach efforts for hello empathy, our conversation card game inspired by insights from the autism community, to a civic-minded audience.


It was truly a win-win situation for both the festival and our company!


As part of our marketing for the event, we worked with Dsg to market our hello empathy discovery sessions, and on our own socials as well, calling upon interested participants to sign up for our sessions held at the LASALLE College of the Arts - City Court at Level 1.


We planned for 2 sessions, one in the morning at 10.00 - 11.30 am and an afternoon session at 1.00 - 2.30 pm (Session 2), on Saturday, 23rd September.


Our marketing collateral for hello empathy discovery session @SDW2023


In our marketing materials, we promised interested participants that they would be able to find out how they can use their empathy to build more meaningful mental, emotional, and physical spaces to foster a more inclusive society through the thought-provoking gameplay sessions, especially for marginalized communities in Singapore and beyond.


D-Day


Our team headed down to LASALLE College early to get the projector ready for our presentation, and to do our final touch-ups to the exhibition space and gameplay area before we welcomed our first batch of players.


Our gameplay area


We started our sessions off with an introduction on the genesis of Hello Empathy, followed by playing the card game which allowed players to learn more about autism through different scenarios and in-depth conversations, as they put themselves in the shoes of persons with autism, and ended off with a simple game debrief.


Founder Trecia speaking about the genesis of hello empathy


At every discovery session, we try to explain to participants interested in inclusive design or designing for special needs communities, that there is much to learn from persons with disabilities for us to design more inclusively.


However, what we really wish to emphasise is how the needs of neurodivergent people, such as persons with autism, are often overlooked due to their invisible disabilities.


As such, hello empathy aims to act as the bridge that connects neurotypical participants to the world of neurodivergent communities, using the autism community as a proxy to reveal to our participants the design gap that exists for neurodivergent communities in public space, which adversely impacts on their lived experiences in the space.


We firmly believe that holding more of such discovery sessions can help address the needs of the neurodivergent community that are not met.


Our participants pondering over a question after tossing the EMP die


It may take time, but with perseverance in spreading our message, we trust that the gradual increase in mental, emotional, and physical awareness, person by person, interaction by interaction, can snowball and result in more meaningful designs over time through deepened empathy.


We were grateful that everything proceeded without a hitch during the sessions, and we were able to transit from segment to segment seamlessly.


Qi Wei facilitating the hello empathy game sessions


Other Happenings at SDW in the FI&LD


There were many thoughtful and interesting design showcases and curations at SDW 2023 but what caught our eye most was FI&LD by Lekker Architects.


Ong Ker-Shing and Joshua Comaroff were the ones who creatively curated experimental activities for participants to explore the cutting edge of design through various new concepts, initiatives, showcases, and functioning prototypes of emerging technologies and products.


There were 5 zones for participants to experience:


-The Emotions

-Fun

-The Senses

-Care

-Social Life and Interaction


Artist Impression of the FI&LD, Image credits: FI&LD


The curators also unveiled a new game based on the philosophy of inclusive design, allowing players to experience what it would be like to learn and play games on a level playing field.


This was a game in which the rules of the game constantly changed so players who come with diverse mobilities and minds were empowered to feel like they can contribute to the excellence of the game.


The goal of the game was to end with only winners and to have fun with the games and creative activities.


This paradigm shift creates a multi-dimensional playscape that allows for an infinite number of capabilities, events, and outcomes, and it is this unpredictability that makes the FI&LD exciting!


This was literally a game changer and we saw participants hailing from all walks of life having a ball of a time at the FI&LD as they experienced this new philosophy of design based on play and improvisation!


Your Feedback and Our Hopes for The Future


We’re glad to declare our workshop sessions an overall success, with plenty of positive feedback given, and heartfelt sharings exchanged during the sessions.


It was an insightful experience for us organisers as well, with many of you giving us constructive feedback that we’ll take back to improve our next hello empathy discovery session.


We’ve heard from you about how an expansion pack of scenario cards, i.e., for the dyslexia community etc., would help bring hello empathy to the next level.


We’re sincerely giving these suggestions some serious thought!


Meanwhile, if you had a fun time, and would wish to conduct your own hello empathy play sessions for your family and friends to spread the word on empathy, you can purchase a set of hello empathy cards to host your own game sessions.


Unboxing a deck of hello empathy cards , Photo Credits: Rice Media


We’re eager to receive more feedback from you so that we can continue to enhance the hello empathy game experience for future players.


Let’s foster greater understanding and acceptance of diversity, spread the word on empathy together, and make it our way of life!


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