This project was an investigation into a concerning evolution of how younger generations are consuming content. A new format of media structure that encourages viewer retention while simultaneously degrading the users attention span.
With the rise of social media platforms like Tik Tok, we are seeing more and more trends emerge that encourage simultaneous, multi-stream content consumption. These come in the forms of some sort of longer format, less engaging video or audio juxtaposed with another more visually stimulating and mind numbing video to encourage the viewer to stay and watch longer. This effect is also reflected in “reaction videos.” In a reaction video, we watch someone else watch a video and enjoy their response as much, if not more, than the content itself. This is also echoed in the increasingly common feature that allows users to decide at what speed they will consume their content, 1.5x, 2x speed etc. Multi-content consumption isn’t a new phenomenon, it’s the same as watching TV in the background as you look at your phone, or listening to music while you read, however this recent, explosive evolution of how we consume content is more concerning.
This new tactic is present all throughout the platform, with creators trying to maximize their engagement by supplementing their content with other media. While the main subject matter can differ, the supplemental stream usually stays within the familiar forms of videos of people playing with kinetic sand, Minecraft parkour, diy repair videos, and most common of all, sped up Subway Surfers gameplay. The design philosophy is inherently predatory, preying on the minds of a generation who grew up being exposed to this very content. It provides for a very unique intersection of ambient and engaged viewing behaviors.
I wanted to point to the absurdity and call attention to this new wave of content consumption. As an experiment, I designed and programmed an AR filter that would be deployed to platforms like TikTok and Instagram. The filter would allow the user to automatically embed footage of Subway Surfers gameplay in the bottom right corner of the video. I expected this to actually prove somewhat useful when posting longer-form content, speeding up the production process and increasing viewer retention. I was really just trying to see how a technology like this would be received by Gen Z, if they would recognize the dystopia or if they would welcome it.
Within 24-hours, the filter reached over 100k opens and over 50k impressions, followed by a steep drop off some time after.