A Guide to Evaluating the Experience of Media and Arts Technology

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Evaluation is essential to understanding the value that digital creativity brings to people’s experience, for example in terms of their enjoyment, creativity, and engagement. There is a substantial body of research on how to design and evaluate interactive arts and digital creativity applications. There is also extensive Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) literature on how to evaluate user interfaces and user experiences. However, it can be difficult for artists, practitioners, and researchers to navigate such a broad and disparate collection of materials when considering how to evaluate technology they create that is at the intersection of art and interaction. This chapter provides a guide to designing robust user studies of creative applications at the intersection of art, technology and interaction, which we refer to as Media and Arts Technology (MAT). We break MAT studies down into two main kinds: proof-of-concept and comparative studies. As MAT studies are exploratory in nature, their evaluation requires the collection and analysis of both qualitative data such as free text questionnaire responses, interviews, and observations, and also quantitative data such as questionnaires, number of interactions, and length of time spent interacting. This chapter draws on over 15 years of experience of designing and evaluating novel interactive systems to provide a concrete template on how to structure a study to evaluate MATs that is both rigorous and repeatable, and how to report study results that are publishable and accessible to a wide readership in art and science communities alike.


Ryan Watkins