Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


Visual and Performing Arts

First Advisor

Zhengyu Cheryl Qian

Committee Chair

Zhengyu Cheryl Qian

Committee Member 1

T.J. Kim

Committee Member 2

David Whittinghill


It is believed that good design should not only satisfy users’ needs, but also improve their overall quality of life. Nowadays, with the rapidly increasing amounts of time spent on the internet, more and more people, the majority of them youngsters, claim themselves as otakus since they cut themselves off from face-to-face communication. From my primary and secondary user studies, most otakus have difficulties interacting with strangers in real world contexts, but some do want to expand their social networks. This design hypothesis is to provide opportunities for otakus to meet people and build friendships in real life. The purpose of this thesis is to use design methodologies to accomplish this hypothesis. The objective is to adopt design approaches to enhance the connections among otakus in face-to-face scenarios by incorporating what is learned from research on and with the target group. Based on the analysis of the user group who regard themselves as otakus, my final design adopts a user-centered approach in order to accurately address the problems. Previous otaku studies are valuable and inform this interaction design. Yet with such general information as a guide, it is still essential to identify the otakus users’ needs and problems they face in their daily routines. Therefore, I conducted a survey to learn about otakus’ social-phobias techniques skills and needs.

The interview data provided more detailed information to identify user requirements and needs. According to the survey data, 79% of otakus are willing to meet more friends in real life, which indicated that most otakus wanted to meet more people in real belief as long as they are able to choose where and when to meet, as if they were playing a game. They lack the face-to-face communication practice with live people in various scenarios.

The mobile phone is the best medium to reach out to otakus; cell phones are the most highly-used electronic device of all screen technologies. Thus, this design thesis developed the mobile app “Say Hey,” a social app with a role-playing game format. “Say Hey” a social app with a role-playing game platform. Using this app, otakus will act as game characters and finish a set of tasks, which involves offline entertainments, including interacting with their physical surroundings. In this way, participating otakus will start to connect the virtual world (mobile application) and the real world (offline activities). By using this app, they will have to collaborate with other people to finish tasks, which will connect them with other players and people in real life, starting a trivia challenge. As a result, the objective is that Say Hey will improve their interpersonal communication skills. The ultimate design goal of this thesis project is to help otakus gradually get involved in real society and frequent interpersonal communications in daily life.