Here is my concept presentation to show my research and exercises that got me deeper into my concept and towards understanding my research questions better and framing a better, crispier design statement. Below is the feedback received and my comments on the critique will be added here in 1-2 days:

Why would someone want to play or connect with a stranger?
No one necessarily would. Even in the physical world, no one wants to do it, but they just do it, whenever it happens. Therefore, I agree, I need to market it differently, and the need or purpose for using the app should be something else, which gets them to interact with a stranger. I myself wouldn’t use an app that is meant to simply ‘connect me with a stranger’.

Why is fleeting intimacy important to you? Define it. Why do you want to evoke that?
Fleeting intimacy is “a shimmer of connection” that can contribute to fulfilling our basic human need for sociability. It’s what makes us human. It is the one unimitable differentiation between humans and robots or between humans and animals.
I want to evoke this because the world lacks this heavily today. No one is going to count this or track this. Technology and fast life have just simple eroded this and I want the product that I am building for thesis, to embody this concept.
Sociologists call fleeting intimacy as a brief experience that has emotional resonance and meaning.
Additionally, while my goal of this project is ‘breaking bubbles’ – this phrase has a two purpose meaning. One is the interactions itself to break our bubbles from our smartphone glued-screens and earbuds, and the other is by talking to strangers, we release them from broad categories and see them as individuals. “And that’s an incredibly powerful thing,” Stark writes. “When you experience someone as an individual, it opens up your idea of who counts as human.”

“When you talk to strangers you are making beautiful interruptions in your expected narrative in your daily life and theirs”. – Kio Stark, Author of ‘When Strangers Meet’

What emotions can you relate as examples for fleeting intimacy?
The silliness, the joy, the stupidity of tiny things, smiles, jokes, giggles, random brain farts, random actual farts, the satisfaction of pressing bubble wrap, the satisfaction of smiling at some goofball in the park along with another stranger, look at an art poster and appreciate it and the stranger next to you shares your opinion and starts a brief conversation… this is what makes us human.

Assuming this emotion of fleeting intimacy happens. So what after that? Or is it just that?
I haven’t reached this point yet, but I am researching this. I have a few concepts about this in my brainstorm for ideas/concepts. To quote Kio Stark again,

“Fleeting intimacy is a brief encounter that gives us a momentary feeling of connectedness, of belonging. I think we need to start using our interactions with strangers to create what I’ll call fleeting alliances. We need to do the things that make for mutual acknowledgement of our fundamental humanity – the smiles and hellos and brief conversations in which we recognize a stranger as a person. We also need to recognize a new dimension to these moments. We can show each other we are not filled with hate. We can show we are allies and we will protect each other.” – Kio Stark

Can these strangers lead to becoming pen pals? Is there an avenue for that?
Yes. Again, I haven’t thought of this, yet. But my only concern with this is that, if I am designing towards experiencing a simply, warm and temporary connection with a stranger and if that contact is stored, can I focus on developing a communication platform between these ‘stored strangers’ as the next part of my project. I do not to focus on this right now.

Leading with Airbnb and Uber might be hurtful. Pick what works because they are controversial examples too.
I agree and disagree. Yes, they have been controversial, but they have also decreased some amount of traffic on the roads, helped students and travelers find cheaper places, generate conversations with random strangers, memorable experiences sharing rooms with someone unknown for a week or a month, etc. They might have a negative impact like possibly every major company has, but the positivity they are generating between human beings cannot be quantized and I’m only trying to highlight that.
Here’s an example to highlight this.

Would you want to reframe this project as a personal one set in motion by your experiences?
I thought deeply about this. I wouldn’t want to reframe my project like this, however, I think I missed bringing this as part of my introductory pitch. Pitching from the point of view of merely expanding an assignment from my first year of school is less impactful. I think this feedback is very important and I realize the need to present it with my pretext of what I had written in my paper and from the experience of my initial months in NYC and Parsons (that included the first-year studio assignment for Instruction set for strangers).

You have a lot of don’ts, think instead about the Dos.
True. But that was my process – when you don’t know what to do, it’s important and easy to note down what you don’t want to do, and therefore, it will help you get better or filter out all the million ideas floating in your head – to help frame what you want to do. That helped me and hence I highlighted that.

Think about AR confusion for people in two different environments.
I agree! I guess I would have encountered this while prototyping, but its good that it is now in front of me earlier on. I will need to check my ideas accordingly.

‘Journey’ truly seems to be my ultimate precedent.
I agree (except for the fact that I wasn’t aiming for a perfect form of a game, like Journey – but after learning more about this game, I’m awestruck).

You’re using ‘experiment’ loosely.
Yes, I can see that now. I guess all Thesis are in an experimental stage for now, and if I’m making an app, I just need to say so.

Do you want this product as a playfully enhanced experience or just call it a game?
I am not sure yet, but I know that my prototyping after ideation will help me answer this as it takes form. The process is to build the concept around the Idea, Platform, and User Interactions. The idea will determine if the platform has to be a ludic app or a formal game.

Don’t worry or hesitate to fully add your point of view/perspective.
Yes! Always!

Can you make technology prototypes to check the implementation?
Yes. That is part of the next steps. I don’t think Tech prototypes was possible at all when I’m not sure of what my concept was and what I was aiming for. Now that its clear to me, I can proceed based on my initial ideas.