I felt I needed to talk about my first encounter with Karen and tell someone what's happened. It wasn't even particularly dramatic, but she's got under my skin. It really did feel real.

It would be great to hear what other people are thinking and experiencing, so share your thoughts here


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Well I wasn't feeling like she was really hitting the mark until she said something on Tuesday that was particularly perfect and quite disturbing - and I didn't even think the questions I'd answered could have led her to that. Pretty awesome. 

All was fun and games until she woke me up last night with constant drunk calls (even with my phone on aeroplane mode!) . Just like the friend i never wanted ;) 

I have all this to look forward to clearly!

I'm really into it now, really can't wait for her to call me or text me every day. I'm totally in the experience, which is a surprise for me because I didn't think it would click with me that much

I have another session at 18.15 today...


Rhian, what do you think it is about the experience that has meant Karen as really clicked with you? 

Hi Kelly

Things have gotten a little bit weird with Karen now... I'm not sure where it's going!

I think initially I enjoyed the interaction and the relationship that was being set up with her, she seemed honest and trustworthy, so I enjoyed sharing things with her and felt like I was safe to

Now she's gone a bit mental, and I'm not sure she's actually interested in me at all... maybe that's the point... I'm not quite done yet so I will update on how I feel once it's over!

Karen certainly has a way of hitting the mark when you least expect it. What did she say that was quite perfect and distrubing at the same time? She has such witty remarks throughout ... 

Hi Rhian and Kelly

I just finished with Karen (and 'accidently' went back in a second time. It was a very emotional experience for me- I got very involved with her and got more interested in her story than what she could for me - as a life coach. I kept wishing I could talk to. Her about what she was doing with her life - and to be honest, felt a little cheated that I couldn't and that the choices of responses were limited.i also thought that if I had been asked some questions at different timesI would have changed my responses. It really is an amazing relationship that builds and builds quite dramatically and sometimes comically. I wonder what it will be like when I know what's coming? I suspect Karen will still have a few surprises for me!

Scott, I love the points you raise here and the impact not be able to talk with Karen had on your experience and perceptions of her. And agree on how time and context can influence our responses to things --- be it questions or a person. So much of what we do is subjective and contextual ... which for me raises important questions about how deeply we believe many of these psych tests or profiling activities people and companies do.

I've played Karen many times now, both through Beta Testing and post-launch ... and even being a member of the design team there are moments I'm like ... 'I totally forget about that' ... hehe

Are you going to play again? Curious if the experience is different for you ... 

I am now on my third theme with Karen,and am getting into even more, although I know what to. Expect- like catching up with an old friend. I am now trying to. Manipulate the story with different responses to see what else I can experience3especially after watching Matt's video about the construction- and I'mtrying to. Find a different story arcs.obsessed.Me? Never! I appreciate Carwyn's comments but I think that as with many dramas there's a need for a suspension of disbelief. Aside from the brilliant
personality profiling, it's a really well delivered story and very entertaining.

Scott, fantastic. I am really thrilled by how much you are enjoying digging into how Karen plays in terms of story arcs and is designed. Suspension of belief, you are right is very important. Do you feel Karen profiled you okay? 

Hi Kelly
Yes - I felt that it was uncanny profiling- the report was an interesting but at times unsettling read. It's not always comfortable hearing - or reading someon's interpretation of you. The results fir t well with other psychometric tests I've taken.
Since the report though I have played Karen again ( well, three times more actually!) and I have varied my answers to. Elicit different responses and seeing if I can change the story arc- so far she hasn't stuck around for though! Obsessed? Me? Never! Well, maybe a little. It's very intimate and kind of like checking in with an old friend, seeing how they're getting on and if anything's changed and seeing how she reacts to my moods.

I was underwhelmed by the app, mostly because of how it functioned and how it didn't immerse me into believing. If the basis of the functionality was you were calling Karen then why was the function not the same as a phone call / facetime call? It felt disengaged from what is a normal call. Why when you phone her is she not interacting with the phone, and the fact that your phone was auto connecting is not believable. There were too many questions being asked on screen, on some calls there was hardly any voice just questions on the screen?

I also had issues about timings and when I would get a notification from her to call as she was doing something. I sometimes wasn’t able to call her for a few hours and when I called she was still doing that thing, surely she would have moved on by then and told me it was too late?

If I was to believe this was a real person then why couldn’t I call her anytime? Or text her anytime? Even if it went to answer machine, or I received a text back saying she was busy and to call later on. These little details left me unable to immerse myself in the app as she was only there when she wanted to be and I couldn’t poke and prod her to get a reaction.

The story arc was frustrating at times as well as I wanted to change it but I was forced to go along with it, maybe that was intended but I felt that even though it was about my personality, my choices weren’t that important in app. For example when Dave went into her room, I refused at every point to do this but I still had go along with it. If that was real I would have hung up on him, however in the app this made no difference so I was forced into it.

The ending was a bit of a let-down especially when I was asked to pay for a report. I understand that money needs to be made, especially in the arts, but more a forewarning at the start would have been good.

Carwyn, thank you so much for sharing this critique. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts and ideas of what could make Karen more believable and bring you into her story more. I also wish you'd been part of our beta testers :-) I hope you will next time.  

How one feels and interacts with the device and app is important to Karen's design, and trying to make it as believable as possible that "you" really are calling her. Maybe adding call tone, and playing more with the interface design to not mirror but be similar to services like Skype or Facetime when you do call could have benefited here. As well as call interruptions ... you know those moments you are talking with one person, and another calls you. A real clash of worlds.   

And point of view --- yours and hers, agree we could have played with POV a bit more. I always find calls through the Skype app more fluid when one is either walking, or trying to position the camera. Having her fiddling around with that a bit more maybe, as opposed to it as a fixed perspective.

You also raise interesting points about timing and control in the interaction design of Karen. The more we let go of who controls the interaction and our participation, and the more movement in time, the more number of possibilities in the story pathways could possibly result. Perhaps this is the tight rope we walk ... with digitally storytelling.

There is so much to still learn from live participatory work here, especially in the emotion of how it is experienced, and also too from improvisation ... maybe natural language processing techniques might have had a place here.

Once again great thoughts ... you really have me thinking ... 




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