May 30, 2023

Community within MILEs

Welcome to the 3rd article in this mini-series focusing on Community in the context of MILEs. We are going to explore two practical exercises:

  • The first takes the previous design of the ghost house and develops a short form run linked to a live event where the aim is to accommodate an audience.
  • The second practical exercise will be a more open-ended consideration behind a novel MILE design on how to consider communal interaction & behaviors.

Practical Example #1 – The Ghost House Live Event

Our story restarts where the issue identified in the prototype has been fixed and development continued. During development of the title, an opportunity arrives to display the interactive stream at a live event, available to anyone worldwide during a 48 hour period.

The event is tied to a customer show that usually looks at shows & films; the expected audience will be varied and usually engage with non-interactive video content.

With the above in mind, what special considerations would you put in place to welcome this type of audience? List points that come to your mind.

Mockup of a Haunted House MILE being played on a tablet.

Some considerations:

  • A wide demographic range is likely to show interest, making it important to make the content ”all-ages”
  • The audience may or may not be familiar with games / interactivity, so a consideration should be put to teach controls as well as keeping these simple and intuitive (eg. touch-based)
  • Most of the audience will be strangers to one another (this is fairly common)
  • There should likely not be a chat functionality, with the focus on non-verbal communication instead
  • With a short event, a host can be present to improve the experience during certain portions

The truth is that this example title is unlikely to create a direct customer community around it – it makes sense as a neat technical feature, but doesn’t indicate something wider down the road in the same narrative framework (although the technology may be reusable).

From that premise, list what you are trying to accomplish from the event. How do you want attendees to behave after living the experience?


  • Attendees should be satisfied with the experience, in the caveat that it is a teaser
  • We’d like attendees to want more in the future of this type of interaction
  • We want attendees to talk to their friends afterwards about the experience in a positive manner
  • Because the title isn’t leading to a fully-fledged experience on its own, you likely want to promote the brand of the business rather than product
  • As the event last 48 hours, a repeat visit on different days should showcase a change (eg. the house changed color, or a new room was added) so that repeat visitors can experience one of the hallmark MILE features

Attendees will likely log in as a curiosity, so their session length will vary wildly. Because there’s an ongoing show, the activity is likely in-between other key moments meaning we want the path of join—> learn —> understand & interact to be very short.

As an optional exercise, list how you would communicate to the participants the experience in a way that keeps them engaged for a sufficient duration (around 5-7 minutes)?

A possible solution:

  • Make it clear that they’ve joined (“XYZ is ready to haunt the mansion!”)
  • A “this is you” arrow pointing at the ghost
  • A growing circle to indicate you can touch the screen (soft indicator as watching without interaction should be an option)
  • The animations for the AI humans are made way over the top, to encourage interaction

After the event concludes, you usually want to collect sentiment from participants – especially in unknown development spaces, this feedback is vital!

How would you plan ahead feedback collection as an optional exercise?

A possible plan:

For all participants

  • Track data specific points – when did viewers interact the most / least? How long did they take from connection to first interaction for those who did interact?

For online participants

  • Most of them will connect and disconnect; as a result, it’s worth trying to have a non-intrusive option to fill a survey during the experience (eg. top right corner) rather than after when they’ve already left

For in-person participants

  • During sessions, look at what participants focus their eyes on (as well as spectators)
  • Speak to them; even informally this gleams quite a bit of information
  • If possible, ask them to fill a short questionnaire after – offer terminals and a notebook (for people who prefer writing by hand)

For the purposes of this exercise, this should be enough considerations so far in terms of understanding and accommodating the audience.

Practical Example #2 – Community considerations around a novel MILE design

The following novel (fictional) design for a MILE is offered to you:

“A legendary artist is organizing their first MILE, taking place over the week-end of the [Day / Month / Year]. Participants can tune in to this special broadcast taking part inside a 3D sphere, where they are represented by a bead of light. Without interaction, they will slowly drift around, changing their view and perspective – they can also take control and start moving around to check out the area and the surprises the artist has left in the space. By moving, participants leave thin movement trails behind that expand the more people take the same route. Participants can see one another, as well as the movement trails left behind.”

What are your considerations when it comes to the community of this design, including any further features you’d recommend in that perspective?

(This is a longer form question – aim to jot down your thoughts)

The above exercise is meant to stretch your analysis of community in these systems. The answer is less important than the process. To help understand the topic, some considerations are put below (non-exhaustive):

  • The artist will have their own following / fans that will set a communal baseline
  • Connect from any device with no download allows for easy friends and family invitation; as a result, event planning should aid this type of sharing of the event.
  • Very visual event, universal to all ages / audiences
  • This is a short self-contained event – meaning that community is more around building hype prior to the event and during the event than after
  • As a short event, it means that post-event content can be pre-arranged as it is contained within a narrow framework (delimited space and time)
  • This is a [Me and Us] style event – the design highlights actions taken together, so we want to encourage gatherings, group movements and group actions
  • To help session length, mini/micro-events can be planned with a timer counting down, encouraging users to stick around until they occur and take part in the “free flow” section while waiting
  • As people might log off and return (similar to a Village Fair design), having some sort of overarching change to make the experience distinct between 1st and 2nd login can create a sense of community (an individual can perceive others creating change, the community can track the changes in an independent fashion)
  • Reviews are less a concern given the short duration and lack of perennity 

Some additional product considerations:

  • Interactions should be kept simple to engage with
  • Likely want a minor animation when someone arrives (the bead of light being created may be sufficient)
  • Have a few mirrors in the area – when spawning, place participants near one of them so that when they move, they can perceive that they are the ones moving
  • Have a single-click action that doesn’t require movement for low-complexity interaction (eg. a sphere of light call that expands)
  • There is a minor risk of participants being able to draw and as a result create inappropriate materials; this likely needs a ton of coordination work from multiple participants to create and could be mitigated via moderation tracking and attention during the event

This concludes our articles series on Community within Interactive Streams / MILEs – we hope this article has been of interest to you and would love to chat to you on our Discord server!