Data Agency
University of Dundee

Screenshot of Data Agency playing as an intern

An interactive experience that exposes the role of data brokers.



Solo project


3 months






1

Challenge

Design an experience that ensures everyone has the knowledge to control who has access to their data.

2

Outcome

By playing the role of a data broker, the user discovers the exploitative practices through in-game decisions, compelling them to take greater agency over their personal data.

Screenshot of research tool used to gain insights
3

Interviews

I met with experts to gain a picture of the current privacy landscape, with one suggesting that most people only take action after a negative personal experience.

4

User research

By observing people’s behaviour when navigating privacy-related tasks like consenting to data collection, it became clear that almost all participants found it hard to evaluate the choices they were making.

Storyboard showing the user journey of Data Agency
5

Insights

From my findings, I drew two main insights. Firstly, for people to take action, they first need to understand the problem. Secondly, people take action after they are negatively affected.

6

Concept

To tackle the barrier of gaining knowledge, I used the storytelling and decision-making mechanics of games. The concept was to put the user in the shoes of a data broker to learn through doing.

Screenshot of a popup asking to join Data Agency
7

Ideation

While the first few prototypes conveyed the message eventually, the interface was too complex, distracting from what data brokers are doing. I simplified the UI and storyline to make it clearer.

8

Development

I wanted the largest amount of people to experience the game for themselves and with a large number of possible decisions, I decided to code the final prototype.

Data Agency displayed on an iPad
9

Testing

Testing how effective the prototype was at encouraging players to take action, I interviewed participants. Asking them a series of set questions before and after the experience to gauge the difference.

10

Response

My project was awarded a First Class Honours, displayed at the DJCAD Graduate Showcase and featured by the University’s Press Office. You can play the game for yourself here.

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