After the Thesis Problem Definition paper and presentation, I stepped back from my work for a few weeks. Upon return, my advisors recommended I create a matrix map, a tangible representation of my history and pathways forward.
I took holistic overview of my graduate work, thinking back to academic and personal experiences. I made note of projects, epiphanies, ambitions, influences, references, quotations, and mistakes that most strongly shaped me. I drew connections, analogies, symmetries, and confrontations.
Soon, I realized a map or a matrix wouldn’t suffice — it didn’t account for the elements of chance that shaped my trajectory, nor did it encompass the fact that different facets of my character reacted differently to the same experiences.
Instead, I designed a role-playing card game with four roles, each representing a facet of my character. Playing cards for each of my formative experiences gave different characters points for Psyche, Knowledge, Higher Cause, and Good Fight, all with the collective objective to earn Outcome cards (for example, A Rocking Thesis, or A Dream Job.) The act of rolling the dice introduced the aspect of chance.
By creating this game, I was able to see what truly mattered most to me: I assigned those cards the most points. I could also survey the relationships: cards could be worth more points if combined with specific other ones. It gave me the opportunity to plot thematic patterns and to synthesize scattered findings to locate core meaning. The linear timeline of my graduate work turned out to be more of a constellation of experiences, each which informed, and was informed by, others.
Project completed within the graduate program in Social Design at MICA.
Faculty Advisors: Lee Davis, Thomas Gardner