“Design a Human”, Fundamentals Studio with Chris Fahey, Fall 2010

Challenge

The challenge of this project was to design a Human and to identify how this particular Human behaves in various contexts and circumstances. How does it think? How does it interact with its users? What are its key features? I focused on Batman as my selected Human. Forever haunted and defined by his parents’ murder, and with no superpowers to rely on, I find Batman to be the most intriguing of all superheroes. And as a result of his circumstances, Batman struggles to channel vengeance into a more positive outcome, while choosing his steps according to his values, both of which are manifested in his crime-fighting strategy.

Approach

To better understand Batman’s goals, motivations, and decisions, I conducted a functional specification that detailed his background, skills, and features. This was followed by a breakdown of the key players, or Users, in the Gotham City universe, in an effort to identify who plays a significant role in shaping Batman’s decisions. Finally, I analyzed several of his crime-fighting adventures. Breaking down his adventures into detailed steps helped to form a systemic view of his war on crime.

Outcome

The final step in approaching this challenge was to synthesize my observations into a detailed and comprehensive flowchart, mapping Batman’s key decision points and interactions with his Users.

Throughout the process, it became evident that Batman’s adventures revolve around a complex system comprised of archetypal characters who are defined by the choices they make. Each User serves a distinct purpose in this system, ultimately playing a part in shaping and being shaped by Batman’s overall behavior. Furthermore, if Batman, the Human, represents the process of making decisions based on rules and morality in an attempt to instill order, then his archenemies represent the counter to his moral infrastructure as creators of conflict and chaos.

In the end, the flowchart served as a visual and systemic representation of Batman’s war on crime. Crime-fighting in Gotham City, as it turns out, is a strategic process.

    Batman's crime-fighting universe broken down into a systemic strategy

    Batman's crime-fighting universe broken down into a systemic strategy

    Defining Batman's functional specifications

    Defining Batman's functional specifications

    Identifying the key players in Batman's universe

    Identifying the key players in Batman's universe

    When Bruce Wayne becomes Batman...

    When Bruce Wayne becomes Batman...

    Determining the villain type before proceeding with fight tactics

    Determining the villain type before proceeding with fight tactics

    Flowchart of Batman's crime-fighting strategy

    Flowchart of Batman's crime-fighting strategy