Like other evenings, “The Utanis” arrived at the children’s Hospital to offer another ANIMO workshop in a very bright and colorful  area. For all of us, that was the best part of the work, testing our stop-motion tool with children and health staff. More than making “etnographics” I would say, we were doing “playnographics”.

Around five, a girl came down from her room accompanied by a therapist. Her name was Paola and she was around ten. Her hair was black and she had dark skin and two big deep black eyes, as if you were looking down into a water well. Paola was electrified with the idea of playing with such a “weird machine with colorful an big bottoms”. However,  the therapist remarked to her words in a serious tone and advised her:

- Paola, you can play with the condition that later on you will let us give you a shot, ok? That sounded like there was some personal battle among them.

Paola was excited to start playing. With quick affirmative movements with her head, she signed  her agreement with the therapist.
It was the first time, after two weeks of hospitalization, that she could play with some “digital stuff” instead of the conventional color crayons and puzzles.

After preliminary negotiations,  we could finally start her animation, having the therapist some distance away, observing with interest. First, we had to paint the scenario and draw and cut out the characters. Paola asked me to draw and paint, she seemed shy though.

- Paint a green field, full of hills and cows and one river, she asked me.

- And now… flying in a blue sky… one of the cows… floating… and now birds, a bunch of birds with long, long beaks.

I was pretty interested in how the story was developing…the therapist too… she was getting closer to us.

As soon as we had all the characters ready, we started the stop motion animation.
We placed the A3 sheet with the landscape in the Animo desktop and started placing the characters on the scenario. Now it was the time to put in action all the elements.

- Paola, I was telling her, the cow is in the middle of birds route. Some suggestion about it?

- Yes, the birds go and poke the cow, exclaimed Paola. And the cow has to bleed  and bleed like a fountain! and the blood is like rain falling into the green hills, spreading the blood all around!

- Are you sure Paola? Do you want me to do this? I was as shocked as was the therapist behind me! We were looking at each other while the innocent story was turning into a psyco-drama.

- Yes, agreed Paola. When everything is in red, then the birds can continue their way…

When we clicked at the PLAY bottom to watch the animation, the result couldn’t be more impressive. While Paola, ten years old, was laughing of her movie, the therapist told me:

- Paola’s mum is a heroin addict, that’s why she hates needles… It’s amazing how your Animo can naturally obtain and record so much information from them without any effort, and in less than thirty minutes of activity. And the best of it is that she had fun!

Later on, while I was driving back home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the experience with Paola. However, Paola wasn’t going to be our only strong experience during the 3 months we spent making workshops at that hospital. We experienced other amazing stories in which children with all kind of traumas, fears, accidents, were engaged by a digital creative tool with which to express their own deep traumas and have fun at the same time.

This story with Animo is one example, among others, of how offering to users experiential bridges, to create conversations and also provoke rich and intense interactions between patients and therapists, students and teachers, passengers and companies, clients and supermarkets, museums and visitors, etc, etc, etc… in other words, we talk about offering valued communication to costumers, users, clients. (Unfortunately I can not show you Paola’s animation, it is confidential material property of the Hospital)

In relation with my story, let Kerry Bodine, VP & Principal Analyst, Forrester Research share her interesting thoughts about How to profit from the outside-in perspective on Customer Experience. (nicest talk here but I could not embed the video)

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