Catching Pikachu on the Railroad Tracks: All Mixed Reality is Service Design

Workshops, panels, and discussions around the theme of "UX Design for Good or Evil"

instructors and students in a toy design class
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Experience Level



Experience Designer


Augmented reality games like Pokemon Go have the potential to add meaningful interactions to the world around us. However, because these technologies mediate a person’s experience of reality by adding a digital layer over the physical world, it is vital that technologists also consider the unintentional harm their products could cause.

The stakes are too high for designers to assume that our current design methods are sufficient for the complexities of mixed reality technologies. What happens when we apply persuasive design to digital to physical environments? Is it ethical for designers to ‘nudge’ users into following certain behaviors? Who decides when an ‘engaging’ interaction is a dark pattern and when it’s just good business? Could AR perpetuate social inequality by segregating public spaces through invisible 'red zoning'?

During this talk we will review the cultural impact of current augmented reality products and discuss historical parallels with theater, theme parks, and casino design. Attendees will leave with a deeper understanding of how to approach designing mixed reality experiences for our very material, very imperfect, very human lives. In order to be truly human-centered, designers must be willing to say no to requests for features which do not provide meaningful advantages for their users -- and to honor the lived experiences of people who are not like themselves.

Session Video

"Catching Pikachu on the Railroad Tracks: All Mixed Reality is Service Design" by Hilary Dixon