A workshop at MobileHCI 2011

Playful, spontaneous and joyful experiences are an increasingly important theme in HCI – drawing on a vision of a society where enjoyment, experience and play are essential and important for human well being. In empirical studies, the increased focus on natural use settings shows that play, sociability and enjoyment is impossible to neglect completely from how people use technology.

Mobile devices are especially interesting for play. They include a range of sensors, including GPS and cameras, which enable extended possibilities for playful interaction. In social settings mobile devices are used as mediators in social interaction, both remotely and locally. Play and playful use can emerge during daily routines, in transitional ‘non-places’, and while waiting. All of these are opportunities for rethinking what experiences can and should be playful, interaction approaches, paradigms, epistemologies and values. This naturally includes a very range of activities, contexts, artefacts and social constellations. We envision a discussion that goes beyond fun and pleasure as a definition of playful experiences. This workshop will address challenges essential to overcome in order for a discourse grounded in playful experiences to become fully integrated into the mobile HCI community.

Workshop themes

An overarching theme of the workshop is to discuss what kinds of experiences can be considered playful, especially as there are many uncertainties as to how playful experiences can be addressed in design as well as in research. By playful we here refer broadly to aspects of interactions that provide pleasure or amusement. This naturally includes a very range of activities, contexts, artefacts and social constellations. We would here like to initiate a discussion that goes beyond fun and pleasure as a definition of playful experiences.

More specifically, we will attempt to address a series of challenges that we see as essential to overcome in order for a discourse grounded on playful experiences to become fully integrated into the mobile HCI community.

The workshop

The workshop is split into three sections. In the first section of the morning participants give a five minute presentation of themselves and their position papers, and how a perspective of playfulness is reflected in their own concrete research practice. This sets the stage for coming to a shared understanding of each other‟s work.

In the second section of the workshop we work together to identify and discuss playfulness concepts that may especially important for the design of mobile technology. This is guided by presentation of interaction scenarios and demonstrations that the participants have brought to the workshop. For this activity, each participant is expected to bring and present an example scenario with an existing mobile system they consider playful. This we hope may be useful to get a broadened discussion on how openings towards a playful attitude are manifested in these particular designs.

In the final section of the workshop, new small groups iterate their research topics and brainstorm future questions in order to integrate ideas and directions with other group members. The session concludes with the formation of a preliminary agenda for doing research on playful experiences with mobile technologies.

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