Experiential Make-overs: Transforming “Killing time” into “Making Memories”
Christopher Stapleton
March 13, 2013

Date: March 13, 2013
Christopher Stapleton —, Real World Laboratory

Life is precious. Why waste it? Every moment counts! Experiential venues from theme parks to museums, schools, shopping centers and even hospitals are re-designing their experiences by transforming everyday activities into making memories for a lifetime. How much of our lives are robbed by killing time for the next teller, the doctor, tires being changed, waiting for a table or that 4 minute thrill ride?

Christopher Stapleton discusses how his applied research firm, Simiosys, conducts Experiential Make-overs to assess, design and test novel entertainment alternatives that give venues that extra kick. His collaboration with academic, commercial and civic institutions has challenged him to quantify and qualify the elusive “Wow factor,” in appealing to mainstream audiences.  He will share his approach and tools that can apply to human factor design.

About the Speaker
Christopher Stapleton (@MixingRealities) is a Creative Venture Catalyst for, Real World Laboratory. He has been consulting, designing, prototyping and delivering innovative experiences for organizations such as Disney, Universal, Nickelodeon, Sanrio & Paramount Parks leveraging experiential research collaborations with Canon Inc., Technical University of Munich and University of Central Florida funded by agencies such as NASA, NSF and the Departments of Education and Defense.  He is the Founding Director of the Media Convergence Lab at the Institute for Simulation and Training, Founding President of the Rural Heritage Center and a founding faculty member of the University of Central Florida Digital Media Program. He has served as chair on the conference committees for ACM/Siggraph, IEEE/ISMAR and IEEE/VR. Mr. Stapleton received his start working on Broadway and designing for film, TV and computer graphics in New York City where he earned his Master of Fine Arts in design for theater and film at the New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.



One Response to Experiential Make-overs: Transforming “Killing time” into “Making Memories”
Christopher Stapleton
March 13, 2013

  1. cHi CoMMpDx March 17, 2019 at 8:30 pm #

    Notes by John David Smith
    • When Chris Stapleton exchanged business cards, he presented them with 2 hands, a gesture that I associate with Tibetans showing respect
    • A discussion about a museum exhibition of Native American drums led to: “drums are not only beautiful, they are devices for synchronizing minds in drumming circles.”
    • What does CHIFOO mean—as an acronym and as a combination of Chi and FOO memes
    The setup: CHIFOO is impressive but can’t be flawless: the video cam that someone normally contributes and the passcode for the door weren’t available tonight.

    How speaker grades himself.  questions, hard questions, questions he can’t answer. actually tonight is about qualifying kick-ass, more than quantifying.


    experiential venues are where physical place & time is critical to what you do.  theater of war, operating room, theme parks, museums, schools.  Places where we make memories. 

    working across sectors and disciplines, on projects such as islands of adventure in orlando florida.  how do you measure huge investment in a theme park design?  4 minute ride—$100M investment.  telling the plumber a story.  If I get tired about telling the story for 5 years, and while spending $100 M, it’s a good story.

    experiential media is a mix of all realities: “reality”, “virtual”, and imaginality.  Hemingway: what the author writes is 1/8 of the experience.  Movie theaters designed to disembody you.  novels mostly imaginality.  theme parks are very experiential.  how can theme parks include the other parts.

    fun theory. piano stairway.  trash can and speeding examples suggest that fun trumps other methods of causing change. easier is better than harder, but fun is better than easier. speed limit: speeding is worth the penalty, but redemption is better than speeding. trash can: convenience is good, but purpose is better than functions.

    Use a cocktail party assessment.  Stapleton does that for every project:
    • does host respond to visitors, & invite your participation?
    • do I matter? is there a way to contribute? does it change the outcome?
    • Does it make a difference?  Do I care? Does it change me?
    Most museums and retail environments fail this cocktail party test.

    Media landscape forms ranging from television, to film, to rides, to games to RPGs, to Experiential Media.
    30 mins on TV,  90 in film, 8 hours for a day at a theme park 48 hours on games.

    Massive list of examples of experiential makeovers. 

    mixed reality: a percentage of virtual and real—whatever you want in design.  imagination includes both.
    • expressive imagination
    • empathetic imagination.
    Game arcades died because they didn’t understand the social interaction needs of people.

    KISS principle and yet the world is getting more complex.  KISS works for simple videos.  Why not invite people to enjoy and learn about the world’s complexity?

    story about use of mixed reality for brain-injured patients with no short term memory.  Learning transfer as a measure of success.  (NB: “Learning Transfer” is a very problematic theory—suggests a rather impoverished theory of mind.)

    • amount of smiling is the best learning assessment tool.
    • competition is a double edge-sword. can lead to negative outcomes.
    • the GUI is dead.
    • a puddle is an infinite story in a finite space.
    GREAT talk!

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