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The book is about user interfaces to applications that have been designed for social and physical interaction. The interfaces are ‘playful’, that is, users feel challenged to engage in social and physical interaction because that will be fun. The topics that will be present in this book are interactive playgrounds, urban games using mobiles, sensor-equipped environments for playing, child-computer interaction, tangible game interfaces, interactive tabletop technology and applications, full-body interaction, exertion games, persuasion, engagement, evaluation and user experience. Readers of the book will not only get a survey of state-of-the-art research in these areas, but the chapters in this book will also provide a vision of the future where playful interfaces will be ubiquitous, that is, present and integrated in home, office, recreational, sports and urban environments, emphasizing that in the future in these environments game elements will be integrated and welcomed.



Playful Interfaces: Introduction and History

In this short survey, we have some historical notes about human–computer interface development with an emphasis on interface technology that has allowed us to design playful interactions with applications. The applications do not necessarily have to be entertainment applications. We can have playful interfaces to applications that have educational goals or that aim at behavior change, whether it is about change of attitude or opinion, social behavior change, or physical behavior. For the developer and the designer of these applications and their interfaces, there is no need any more to assume that, in addition to focusing on the application, the user has to pay attention to manipulating a mouse, using the keyboard and monitoring the screen. Smart sensors and actuators embedded in a user’s physical environment, objects, wearables, and mobile devices can monitor a user, detect preferences and emotions and can re-actively and proactively adapt the environment and the behavior of its actuators to demands of the user or changing conditions. In this way, interface technology can be employed in such a way that the emphasis is not on offering means to get tasks done in the most efficient way, but on presenting playful interaction opportunities to applications that provide fun, excitement, challenges, and entertainment. Clearly, many applications that have more serious goals than “just” providing fun can profit from this interface technology as well. In this introductory chapter, we shortly survey the chapters in this book that show the many applications of these playful interfaces.
Anton Nijholt

Public and Mobile Entertainment


Public Systems Supporting Noninstrumented Body-Based Interaction

Body-based interaction constitutes a very intuitive way for humans to communicate with their environment but also among themselves. Nowadays, various technological solutions allow for fast and robust, noninstrumented body tracking at various levels of granularity and sophistication. This chapter studies three distinct cases showcasing different representative approaches of employing body-based interaction for the creation of public systems, in two application domains: culture and marketing. The first case is a room-sized exhibit at an archeological museum, where multiple visitors concurrently interact with a large wall projection through their position in space, as well as through the path they follow. The second example is an “advergame” used as a means of enhancing the outdoor advertising campaign of a food company. In this case, players interact with the wall-projected game world through a virtual, two-dimensional shadow of their body. Finally, the third case presents a public system for exploring timelines in both two and three dimensions that supports detailed body tracking in combination with single-hand, two-hands, and leg gestures. Design considerations are provided for each case, including related benefits and shortcomings. Additionally, findings stemming from user-based evaluations and field observations on the actual use of these systems are presented, along with pointers to potential improvements and upcoming challenges.
Dimitris Grammenos, Giannis Drossis, Xenophon Zabulis

Playing with the Environment

Games as entertainment mechanisms can be exploited to promote education, social relationships and behaviour changes. In this chapter, we discuss how mobile multiplayer games that explore interaction with public displays stimulate engagement, persuasion and social interaction. We developed Gaea, a persuasive location-based multiplayer mobile game, which prompts people to recycle virtual objects within a geographical area. The goals of this prototype were to instruct, inform and persuade users to recycle their wastes. Four key requirements guided Gaea’s design and development: making use of a natural environment; reaching a large number of people; promoting entertainment; and fostering social engagement. With these ideas in mind, Gaea was designed to take advantage of the intrinsic characteristics of mobile devices (allowing players to freely move around while communicating and receiving information) and public displays (allowing audience awareness and players’ social engagement). Players use a smartphone to locate and collect the virtual litter in their surroundings, which should then be dropped into the correct virtual recycle bin, available for selection when approaching the public display. Gaea raises users’ awareness to the impact of their actions on our planet’s natural resources. It also promotes users’ physical activity, social interaction and environmental behaviour changes. User studies were performed, revealing encouraging results that are also described in this chapter.
Pedro Centieiro, Teresa Romão, A. Eduardo Dias

Designing Mobile and Ubiquitous Games and Playful Interactions

Marshall McLuhan famously said in his 1964 book The Medium is the Message, We become what we behold. We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us. In a relatively short time, video games have become a major feature of our cultural landscape that extend beyond the games themselves such that their aesthetic, iconography and operation are being reflected in the other more established forms of media: film, books and television. This chapter explores the rapidly growing field of mobile and the often associated field of ubiquitous games which are contributing significantly to the cultural spread of games by: opening up new markets, facilitating new player demographics and creating exciting new forms of game play, which will undoubtedly have a significant impact on future society.
Paul Coulton

Indoor and Outdoor Playgrounds


Interactive Playgrounds for Children

Play is an important factor in the life of children. It plays a role in their cognitive, social, and physical development, and provides entertaining and fulfilling activities in itself. As with any field of human endeavor, interactive technology has a huge potential for transforming and enhancing play activities. In this chapter, we look at interactive playgrounds, goals and considerations in their design, and we present the directions in which interactive playgrounds can be made more engaging.
Ronald Poppe, Robby van Delden, Alejandro Moreno, Dennis Reidsma

Designing Interactive Outdoor Games for Children

Mobile outdoor games for groups of children have emerged recently as a credible technological proposition and as an area of research and development that promises substantial benefits for children regarding a more active lifestyle and the development of social skills. This chapter examines specifically the design of Head Up Games, which are outdoor games that support embodied interaction and where players are collocated, e.g., in a playground, alley, park; the traditional loci of children’s play over centuries. Designing such games and the emerging gaming experience presents its own set of challenges, such as designing the interaction of a group, ensuring pace in the game, and fairness for different contexts and groups of players. Not least, the added value of enhancing outdoor play and games with technology needs to be ensured. We describe some of the lessons learned from the design of a few of these games, how different design methods may contribute to the design process, and methodological issues concerning the early design, the prototyping, and the evaluation of these games.
Iris Soute, Panos Markopoulos

Smart Ball and a New Dynamic Form of Entertainment

This chapter introduces a smart ball entertainment system, which we call “Bouncing Star.” A smart ball is a ball that contains electronic devices such as sensors, LEDs, microprocessors, and wireless modules. It has the ordinary functions of a ball, but advanced functions are achieved by the combination of various electronic devices. In our system, the ball’s state of motion (static, thrown, bounce, etc.) is recognized by the analysis of data received via a wireless module, the ball’s position can be tracked using image processing techniques. Using this system, we created several applications that integrate real-time dynamic computer graphics with responsive sounds, which we have exhibited in museums where people can participate in ball play. The goal of our project was to establish a new dynamic form of entertainment based on the combination of a ball and digital technologies.
Sachiko Kodama, Toshiki Sato, Hideki Koike

Games for Change, Personalization, and Teaching


Games for Change: Looking at Models of Persuasion Through the Lens of Design

Games for Change are digital games that purport to change people’s opinions, attitudes, or behaviors around specific issues. While thousands of games have been created, there is little evidence that such games do persuade or contribute to behavior change. To address this problem, address the research question: How do elements of the different models of persuasion and behavior change manifest within Games for Change? We identify and focus on three models: Information Deficit, Procedural Rhetoric, and a new model called Emergent Dialogue. To answer this question, we had to determine what “clues” there were in games that we could use to identify each model of persuasion. Using a collaborative version of a Close Reading methodology we analyzed ten Games for Change about sustainability. Based on our results we propose six categories of design markers. Each marker can be used to identify or implement specific design elements associated with a particular model of persuasion. In this chapter, we describe our methodology, present six categories of design markers, and describe the specific strategies for each marker associated with each of the three models of persuasion. We illustrate each model and its design markers through canonical examples including a new game called Youtopia that we have created to encode the Emergent Dialogue model into a digital game. We conclude with proposed guidelines for game design of Games for Change.
Alissa N. Antle, Joshua Tanenbaum, Anna Macaranas, John Robinson

Individual and Collaborative Personalization in a Science Museum

Museums increasingly use interactive technologies to make a museum visit more rewarding. In this chapter, we present opportunities that tabletop environments offer for learning, enjoyment, motivation, collaboration and playful interaction in museums. We discuss experiments with a tabletop interface in a popular science museum. This museum is an open space where visitors walk around and interact with exhibits in various ways. We integrated a tabletop application in the existing museum context that allowed visitors, mostly children, to plan and personalize their visit in a playful way. Personalization was either done individually, in a pilot experiment, or in a small group, in the main experiment. The question to be answered was whether children who follow a personalized route through the museum enjoy the experience more, are more motivated, learn more, and are more collaborative than children who follow a route that was not personalized, individually or collaboratively. We did not find many differences between experimental conditions (personalized versus nonpersonalized groups) on enjoyment and collaboration, possibly due to the fact that our research setting resembled “in the wild” studies more than classical experiments. However, in one experiment we found a learning effect of personalization. Overall, scores on the enjoyment measures were high and the experiments gave rise to engaged behavior and playful interaction. We discuss implications of our work for the study of collaborative learning in tabletop environments.
Betsy van Dijk, Andreas Lingnau, Geert Vissers, Hub Kockelkorn

NoProblem! A Collaborative Interface for Teaching Conversation Skills to Children with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder

This chapter presents NoProblem!, a multi-user interface designed to teach social conversation and social interaction skills to children with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (HFASD). HFASD is defined as a pervasive developmental disorder which involves deficits in socio-communication skills as well as with repetitive behaviors and restricted interests but with a relative high IQ (usually higher than 75). NoProblem! implements the principles of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) by interleaving learning and experience techniques. The process entails the display of short vignettes to present social tasks for the children to learn about and problem solve. In the learning part, a facilitator (teacher or therapist) uses the system to teach pairs of children about the phases of social conversation in different settings (e.g., at school, in the playground). The children consider and discuss prepared solutions, some of which are more appropriate than others; they may also propose and audio-record their own solutions. In the experience part, role-play of various conversational solutions is used. NoProblem! aims to provide opportunities to act out various conversational responses in a social setting that was selected as the most appropriate one and to practice it in a safe environment with partners who will cooperate. The results of formative and evaluation studies that demonstrate system usage and effectiveness in the teaching of conversational skills for HFASD children are presented. The children involved were interested, felt very competent doing this task, perceived that they could make choices, and felt minimal pressure and tension.
Massimo Zancanaro, Leonardo Giusti, Nirit Bauminger-Zviely, Sigal Eden, Eynat Gal, Patrice L. Weiss

Health and Sports


Designing for Social and Physical Interaction in Exertion Games

Exertion games lend themselves to facilitating social and physical interactions, in particular when compared to button-press games. However, there is little understanding of how specific aspects of an exertion game’s design can facilitate these social and physical interactions. In response, we present a set of design themes based on our analysis of players’ experiences with a distributed table tennis game. The themes are: Shared Object, Anticipation, Secondary Performance, Movement Variety, and Uncertainty. We hope that these themes can guide other designers who aim to support social and physical interaction in order to support players profiting from the many associated benefits.
Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller, Martin R. Gibbs, Frank Vetere

Designing Games to Discourage Sedentary Behaviour

Regular physical activity has many physical, cognitive and emotional benefits. Health researchers have shown that there are also risks to too much sedentary behaviour, regardless of a person’s level of physical activity, and there are now anti-sedentary guidelines alongside the guidelines for physical activity. Exergames (games that require physical exertion) have been successful at encouraging physical activity through fun and engaging gameplay; however, an individual can be both physically active (e.g. by going for a jog in the morning) and sedentary (e.g. by sitting at a computer for the rest of the day). In this chapter, we analyse existing exertion games through the lens of the anti-sedentary guidelines to determine which types of games also meet the requirements for anti-sedentary game design. We review our own game designs in this space and conclude with an identification of design opportunities and research challenges for the new area of anti-sedentary game design.
Regan L. Mandryk, Kathrin M. Gerling, Kevin G. Stanley

Learning by Creating


Playing in the Arcade: Designing Tangible Interfaces with MaKey MaKey for Scratch Games

Most tools for making games have focused on-screen-based design and ignored the potentially rich space of tangible interface design. In this chapter, we discuss how middle school youth (ages 10–12 years) designed and built their own tangible game interfaces to set up a game arcade. We conducted two workshops in which students used the MaKey MaKey, a low-cost tangible interface construction kit, to build touch-sensitive game controllers using everyday conductive materials for games they remixed in Scratch. We address the following research questions: (1) What types of tangible interfaces do youth create for their games? (2) How do youth designers deal with the complexities of coordinating the design of tangible interfaces with online Scratch games? (3) What do young users have to say about their tangible interface designs? We found that youth designers mostly replicated common controller designs but varied in their attention to either functionality or esthetics. An unexpected finding was how these different approaches followed traditional gender lines, with girls more focused on esthetics and boys more focused on functionality. These findings might point toward different expectations and informal experiences that need to be taken into consideration when bringing tangible design activities into educational settings. During the arcade, the youths’ perspectives on their games and controllers changed as they observed other people playing their games. They expressed pride in their creations and saw ways to refine their designs in order to improve usability. In our discussion, we address how the inclusion of tangible interface design can extend game making activities for learning. Ultimately, we want youth to move beyond and experiment more with conventions, not just to increase their technological understanding and flexibility but also as a way to more critically approach the design of everyday things.
Eunkyoung Lee, Yasmin B. Kafai, Veena Vasudevan, Richard Lee Davis

Playful Creativity: Playing to Create Games on Surfaces

Creativity is of vital importance for human development since it allows individuals and ultimately society to successfully overcome new challenges. Besides social factors, the environment can also influence the development of such an important skill. We therefore considered it of interest to explore this capacity in the context of new information technology and game-based learning. Tabletop systems greatly facilitate the characteristics behind creative processes such as communication, the exchange of ideas, and collaborative interaction between individuals. This chapter explores the suitability of interactive surfaces in collaborative creative tasks carried out by teenage students using software to create 2D game worlds for tabletops.
Alejandro Catala, Javier Jaen, Patricia Pons, Fernando Garcia-Sanjuan

Bifocal Modeling: Promoting Authentic Scientific Inquiry Through Exploring and Comparing Real and Ideal Systems Linked in Real-Time

The improvement of STEM education through new pedagogies and technologies has been the chief concern of policy-makers and educators for the past decades. Common threads among the proposed solutions have been to promote inquiry, discovery, and authentic scientific practices in the classroom. In this chapter, we present a novel inquiry-based framework which combines computer simulations and real-world sensing in real-time: bifocal modeling. Even though educational researchers have come to realize the potential of simulations, computer models, and probeware separately, little research and design have been done on the combination of these new technologies. When creating a bifocal model, students build a computer simulation and the analogous sensing apparatus, and link them in real-time, being able to validate, compare, and refine their conceptual models using data. In this chapter, I will focus on the technical and pedagogical aspects of this framework, describe several example models, and discuss four pilot studies, which suggest that the synergy between physical and simulated systems catalyzes further inquiry toward a deeper understanding of the scientific phenomena.
Paulo Blikstein
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