The New School Archives Digital Collections

Parsons School of Design MFA Design and Technology program theses2017 ➔ Wordless Thief


Related people/organizations

Kuo-Jui Hung (designer)
Aya Karpinska (thesis advisor)
Chris Prentice (thesis advisor)


May 23 2018


Languages are communication systems that apply to acquire and exchange information. According to Linguistic Relativity, a language greatly influences how a speaker thinks. In other words, people have different perceptions while looking at same objects or ideas and they associate different characteristics, based on their culture, background or experience. Therefore, differences happen while exchanging ideas with diverse languages, especially cultural differences. Some connotations would be misplaced because of misinterpretation and mistranslation. So how could we communicate our thoughts more universally? One solution is by using body language, a great support for verbal communication. Gesture is the most common type of non-verbal communication and it’s rich with cultural references because it’s influenced one’s background and perspective. When one is insusceptible by foreign language, primal thoughts and native perceptions will stand out. Wordless Thief is a tabletop game for players to experience various use of gesture and the possibilities of intuitive language. Ideally, players can be any group of people who speak diverse languages. While playing Wordless Thief, players are asked to look at graphics and gesture accordingly. And players can only use gestures to exchange information instead of verbal languages. This game is different from interpretative games such as Pictionary and Charades because players are translating images not obvious words and tools aren’t involved but their bodies to fulfill the objective. To accomplish game goals, meaningful gestures and expressions are keys to success. Additionally, players observe and read each others' gestures and decode the personalized communication. In brief, Wordless Thief restricts players’ verbal expression abilities and forces them to think natively by gesturing. This game provides an opportunity to players to reflect on the possibilities of gesture and discover cultural differences from each other with gesture communication. Ultimately, players can hopefully find out many interesting but unknown perspectives and knowledge from other.



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