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Posts in category 'Play'

23 April 2013

Plant Wars player patterns: visualization as scaffolding for ethnographic insight

roger-shant-visualization

The latest contribution to Ethnomining, the April 2013 Ethnographymatters edition on combining qualitative and quantitative data, edited by Nicolas Nova, is by Rachel Shadoan and Alicia Dudek who present an interesting case study, based on visualizations, involving an on-line role-playing game.

“We embarked on a study to understand both how the Plant Wars players played and why they played. Visualizing the data generated by the player’s in-game actions provided the map, answering the how and what questions. Interviewing the participants and participating in the game ourselves provided the key to that map, answering the why questions.”

Rachel Shadoan likes to find answers to interesting questions, and build interesting things using those answers. Currently she is answering interesting questions in the Intel Labs using a combination of data visualization, data mining, and ethnographic techniques.

Alicia Dudek is a design ethnographer and user experience consultant. Her passion is finding unusual solutions to the usual problems. Currently, she is finding unusual solutions for Deloitte Digital, where she specializes in engaging stakeholders in research insights through participatory design workshops.

9 July 2012

In a Fisher-Price lab, apps become child’s play

8-PROTO3

At a Fisher-Price lab, researchers watch children at play to come up with ideas for new products, including toys that incorporate apps on iPads and iPhones.

At Fisher-Price, “we bring babies in with their moms and watch them at play with different types of apps, different types of products,” said Deborah Weber, senior manager of infant research. Her job, she said, is to “understand the ages and stages of babies — what they can and can’t do, what their interests are, and the growing needs of families today.”

[Fisher-Price calls this process] spelunking, which in its literal sense means to explore caves. But in the realm of toy making, it refers to the simple act of watching children play.

Spelunking has been around since the Fisher-Price PlayLab was formed in 1961, the same year that bricks made by a Danish company called Lego made their American debut. In its earlier days, the lab was filled with toys like a googly-eyed rotary phone known as the Chatter Phone, and the Corn Popper, a kind of mini-lottery machine on wheels.

Today, the lab, located at the Fisher-Price headquarters in East Aurora, N.Y., looks more like an Apple store. But instead of adults and teenagers, there are infants staring into computer screens, and parents and toddlers are passing iPads back and forth.

Read article

12 June 2012

Augmented sensing through smartphones

wahoo_heart_rate_sensor

So how are we doing to augment our senses through digital technologies?

Here are some of the products currently on the market that allow people to augment their sensing (and sense-making) through external sensors, with result summaries visualised on smartphones and the web:

Health and healthy living: AsthmaSense, DigiFit, FitBit, Up
Sleep: Lark Sensor (WSJ article), WakeMate, Zeo
Sports: Nike+ (running), Strava (cycling), Wahoo
Home energy: Nest Learning Thermostat
Plants (!): Koubachi

It feels like a lot more is to come.

1 May 2012

Gamification and UX: where users win or lose

games

In this long article, Peter Steen Høgenhaug explores how and when to use gamification to improve the user experience of websites and apps, and also when not to use it.

Using game theories in areas not otherwise associated with games is often referred to as gamification. This term, however, has gotten a rather negative air recently, because people tend to use it for the wrong purposes. A common issue with gamification is that it is used in marketing with no other goal than to sell products. I don’t think gamification should be used this way — in the long run, it does nothing good for the company trying to sell. Instead, gamification should be used to improve the experience of buying and using a product.

Read article

3 November 2011

Digital product strategy, gamification, and the evolution of UX

Chess
Greg Laugero writes about two trends that have recently entered the realm of digital product development.

First is the incorporation of gaming concepts into products that seemingly have nothing to do with gaming.

Second, the importance of designing products that are not only easy to use but a pleasure to use.

Read article

27 June 2011

Book: Ethnographies of the Videogame

Ethnographies of the Videogame
Ethnographies of the Videogame: Gender, Narrative and Praxis
by Helen Thornham, City University London, UK
Ethnographies of the Videogame
Ashgate, July 2011, 218 pages
[Amazon UK link]

Ethnographies of the Videogame uses the medium of the videogame to explore wider significant sociological issues around new media, interaction, identity, performance, memory and mediation. Addressing questions of how we interpret, mediate and use media texts, particularly in the face of claims about the power of new media to continuously shift the parameters of lived experience, gaming is employed as a ‘tool’ through which we can understand the gendered and socio-culturally constructed phenomenon of our everyday engagement with media.

The book is particularly concerned with issues of agency and power, identifying strong correlations between perceptions of gaming and actual gaming practices, as well as the reinforcement, through gaming, of established (gendered, sexed, and classed) power relationships within households. As such, it reveals the manner in which existing relations re-emerge through engagement with new technology.

Offering an empirically grounded understanding of what goes on when we mediate technology and media in our everyday lives Ethnographies of the Videogame is more than a timely intervention into game studies. It provides pertinent and reflexive commentary on the relationship between text and audience, highlighting the relationships of gender and power in gaming practice. As such, it will appeal to scholars interested in media and new media, gender and class, and the sociology of leisure.

Helen Thornham is Lecturer in Sociology and Media at City University, London, UK

7 May 2011

Serious play: the business of social currency

Arrow dude
Social currency is shared information that encourages further social encounters.

It’s not a new concept, but the social web increases its prevalence. In the web-based collaboration software platform called Rypple, a simple act of thanking someone on a team and using a badge as a way to show your gratitude is a form of social currency. A platform called Badgeville promises to add virtual rewards to your digital media property through leaderboards and virtual “badges” that act as reinforcements to reward certain behaviors and encourage others.

As someone who has taken a deep dive in several social networks (he joined Twitter in 2007) and observes both the gaming and currency aspects of them, David Armano believes these dynamics will influence the business world as it becomes more connected.

In this “social reward” economy, here are a few things he suggests we may want to consider as we manage teams and work to build the brand(s) of our organizations.

Read article (alternate link)

10 April 2011

Book: A new culture of learning

A New Culture of Learning
A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change
by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown
Publisher: CreateSpace – January, 2011)
Paperback, 140 pages
(Amazon link)

The 21st century is a world in constant change. In A New Culture of Learning, Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown pursue an understanding of how the forces of change, and emerging waves of interest associated with these forces, inspire and invite us to imagine a future of learning that is as powerful as it is optimistic. Their understanding of what constitutes “a new culture of learning” is based on several basic assumptions about the world and how learning occurs:

  • The world is changing faster than ever and our skill sets have a shorter life
  • Understanding play is critical to understanding learning
  • The world is getting more connected that ever before – can that be a resource?
  • In this connected world, mentorship takes on new importance and meaning
  • Challenges we face are multi-faceted requiring systems thinking & socio-technical sensibilities
  • Skills are important but so are mind sets and dispositions
  • Innovation is more important than ever – but turns on our ability to cultivate imagination
  • A new culture of learning needs to leverage social & technical infrastructures in new ways
  • Play is the basis for cultivating imagination and innovation

By exploring play, innovation, and the cultivation of the imagination as cornerstones of learning, the authors create a vision of learning for the future that is achievable, scalable and one that grows along with the technology that fosters it and the people who engage with it. The result is a new form of culture in which knowledge is seen as fluid and evolving, the personal is both enhanced and refined in relation to the collective, and the ability to manage, negotiate and participate in the world is governed by the play of the imagination.

Typically, when we think of culture, we think of an existing, stable entity that changes and evolves over long periods of time. In A New Culture of Learning, Thomas and Brown explore a second sense of culture, one that responds to its surroundings organically. It not only adapts, it integrates change into its process as one of its environmental variables.

The book website contains some of the authors’ talks, including one by John Seely Brown on “Tinkering as a Mode of Knowledge Production”.

2 September 2010

Interactions magazine on human nuances

Interactions
The current issue of Interactions Magazine is generally on the nuances of what makes us human, writes co-editor-in-chief Jon Kolko, and more in particular “about authenticity, complexity, and design-and the political, social, and human qualities of our work”.

Here are the articles that are currently available for free:

interactions: authenticity, complexity, and design
by Jon Kolko
Frequently, designers find themselves reflecting on the nuances of what makes us human, including matters of cognitive psychology, social interaction, and the desire for emotional resonance. This issue of interactions unpacks all of these ideas, exploring the gestalt of interaction design’s influence.

The meaning of affinity and the importance of identity in the designed world
by Matthew Jordan
When a designer is thinking about ways to create experiences that deliver meaningful and lasting connections to users, it is helpful to consider the notion of our personal affinities and how they affect perception, adoption, and use in the designed world. In our cover story, Matthew Jordan explores the term “affinity,” leading us to consider new and useful ways of informing design thinking and ultimately help us design with more success.

Why “the conversation” isn’t necessarily a conversation
by Ben McAllister
Architects have long understood that the structures we inhabit can influence not only the way we feel, but also the way we behave. This turns out to be true in digital environments like social networks, too. Subtle differences in the underlying structures of these networks give rise to distinct patterns of behavior.

Hope for the best and prepare for the worst: interaction design and the tipping point
by Eli Blevis and Shunying Blevis
Typical interaction designers are not climate scientists, but interaction designers can make well-informed use of climate sciences and closely related sciences. Interaction design can make scientific information, interpretations, and perspectives available in an accessible and widely distributed form so that people’s consciousness is raised.

Gestural interfaces: a step backwards in usability
by Donald Norman and Jakob Nielsen
The new gestural and touch interfaces can be a pleasure to use and a pleasure to see. But the lack of consistency and inability to discover operations, coupled with the ease of accidentally triggering actions from which there is no recovery, threatens the viability of these systems. We urgently need to return to our basics, developing usability guidelines for these systems that are based upon solid principles of interaction design, not on the whims of the company-interface guidelines and arbitrary ideas of developers.

All look same? A comparison of experience design and service design
by Jodi Forlizzi
The comparison of experience design (or UX, as it has been labeled) and service design seems to be a topic of interest in the interaction design community. Can we and should we articulate differences among these fields? Can the methods and knowledge of one successfully transfer to another?

Relying on failures in design research
by Nicolas Nova
The investigation of accidents within a larger process can be inspiring from a design viewpoint. Surfacing people’s problematic reactions when confronted with invisible pieces of technologies highlights their mental model and eventually has implications for design.

Solving complex problems through design
by Steve Baty
What is it about design that makes it so well suited to solving complex problems? Why is design thinking such a promising avenue for business and government tackling seemingly intractable problems?

On academic knowledge production
by Jon Kolko
Now, as design enjoys the corporate credibility of “design thinking” and with the social problems confronting the world growing increasingly intractable, the need for bridging the gap between practitioners and academics is more important than ever.

21 August 2010

Creating immersive experiences with diegetic interfaces

Diegetic interface
Imon Deshmukh of Cooper thinks that interfaces can be more closely integrated with the environment in which they operate. In an article on the Cooper blog, he shares some of what he heas learned from the universe of video games and how it might be applicable to other kinds of designed experiences.

“A key area of the problem lies in how we’re presented and interact with complex information diegetically, that is, interfaces that actually exist within the game world itself.” […]

Technology seems to be finally overcoming the restrictions that have kept diegetic interfaces limited to gimmickry until now. While still in its infancy, the push to duplicate more of our natural interactions with our environment seems to be gaining momentum as evidenced by new products using non-traditional interaction models. Most of them, like the popular Nintendo Wii, have yet to deal with immersion in terms of interfaces. On the other hand, Microsoft’s, whose controller-free gaming technology Kinect is about to enter the market, has stated its intention to eliminate what it calls the “barrier” between the player and the game world.”

Read article

23 June 2010

IKEA’s Playreport

Playreport
Playreport is a global research project on children, families and play, initiated by IKEA.

The company conducted 11,000 interviews in 25 countries, and spoke to 8,000 parents and 3,000 children aged 7-12. It is therefore, according to IKEA, the largest global research project ever conducted on parenting, children and the state of play around the world.

The Playreport lives on on Ikea’s Facebook page, which invites experts and parents around the globe to join in the conversation in order to increase awareness and discussion about the value of play for kids.

Download the international summary of the Playreport (pdf)

(Via Creativity Online)

17 May 2010

User experiences for children, for seniors and for play

UX Matters
UX Matters is another one of these great resources for the user experience community. Here three recent articles:

Designing user experiences for children
By Heather Nam (Mediabarn)
Creating a great experience for Web site users should always take the users’ perspectives into consideration. While a user’s age can be a contributing factor in a design’s success for a particular user, demographic information should not trump design conventions. Then, why do UX designers struggle when creating Web sites for children?

Designing for senior citizens | Organizing your work schedule
By Janet M. Six
Every month in this column, the Ask UXmatters experts (this month: Steve Baty, Dana Chisnell, Pabini Gabriel-Petit, Caroline Jarrett, Janet Six and Daniel Szuc) answer readers’ questions about user experience matters. The questions this month:
– What fonts and colors are easiest for senior citizens to read online? Do you have any other tips for me? I am building an informational Web site for senior citizens.
– What are your favorite tools for organizing your work schedule? Do you organize such information on your computer, your phone, or on paper?

Playful user experiences
By Shira Gutgold
Rather than trying to motivate users to go down routes they have no personal motivation to follow or to use a new feature they’ve never seen before and are perhaps a little wary of trying out, why not tap into people’s existing motivations and use their natural inclinations to encourage them to interact with our products? The most evident natural motivation is play.

23 March 2010

Eleven gambits for influencing user behaviour

Playfulness
In his blog, Dan Lockton, a Ph.D. researcher at Brunel University (UK), describes eleven behavioural change patterns “drawn from games or modelled on more playful forms of influencing behaviour.”

“My main interest here is to extract the design techniques as very simple design patterns or ‘gambits’* that can be applied in other design situations outside games themselves, where designers would like to influence user behaviour (along with the other Design with Intent techniques). So these are (at least at present) presented simply as provocations: a “What if…?” question plus an example. The intention is that the card deck version will simply have what you see here, while the online version will have much more detail, references, links and reader/user-contributed examples and comments.”

Read article

24 August 2009

The iPhone is not easy to use: a new direction for UX Design

Nothing to undo
Fred Beecher argues on Johnny Holland that “the iPhone is surprisingly difficult to use, but it sure is fun! And that is why it’s a game-changer.”

“As a user experience designer, I thought my job was to make things not suck. Until recently. As technology has evolved, human behavior has evolved along with it. Since behavior is the basis of user experience design, my job has evolved as well. Now, my job is to make things people love. At the 2009 IA Summit, Karl Fast articulated the value proposition of user experience design with sparkling clarity. “Engineers make things,” he said, “we make people love them.” And then he held up an iPhone as an example.

This is a crucial change, the importance of which cannot be overstated.”

Read full story

3 August 2009

Learning from games: a language for designing emotion

Gaming
Joe Lamantia, an Amsterdam based experience architect, discussed the role of emotion in game design.

In his article, Lamantia draws heavily on the work by Nicole Lazzaro, a leading games researcher and design consultant.

“Emotion is one of the most powerful elements of an experience, and also the most difficult to design. Yet games regularly inspire intense emotions, drawing players into the experience they offer, and making these experiences enjoyable and memorable.

With the best games, these feelings endure long after we finish playing. Plainly, interaction designers who want to better understand how to inspire emotions could learn a lot from games.”

Read full story

28 July 2009

Stanford seminars on people, computers and design

Stanford HCI
CS547. Human-Computer Interaction Seminar (Seminar on People, Computers, and Design)” is a course of the Stanford HCI Group, coordinated by Terry Winograd, on topics related to human-computer interaction design.

Below is a run-down of the 2008-2009 speakers (all videos are available online):

September 26, 2008 – Tristan Harris , Apture
New models for browsing (video)

October 3, 2008 – David Merrill, MIT Media Lab
Natural Interactions with Digital Content (video)

October 10, 2008 – Karrie Karahalios, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana Champaign
Visualizing Voice (video)

October 17, 2008 – Jesse James Garrett, Adaptive Path
Aurora: Envisioning the Future of the Web (video)

October 24, 2008 – Peter Pirolli, PARC
Information foraging theory (video)

October 31 , 2008 – Justine Cassell, Northwestern University
Building Theories: People’s Interaction with Computers (video)

November 7, 2008 – Merrie Morris, Microsoft Research
SearchTogether and CoSearch: New Tools for Enabling Collaborative Web Search (video)

November 14, 2008 – Gail Wight, Stanford Dept. of Art and Art History
Unreasonable Interactions (video)

November 21, 2008 – Sergi Jordà
Exploring the Synergy between Live Music Performance and Tabletop Tangible Interfaces: the Reactable (video)

December 5, 2008 – Jaroslaw Kapuscinski, Stanford Dept. of Music
Composing with Sounds and Images (video)

January 9, 2009 – Todd Mowry, CMU
Pario: the Next Step Beyond Audio and Video (video)

January 16, 2009 – Hayes Raffle, Nokia Research
Sculpting Behavior – Developing a tangible language for hands-on play and learning (video)

January 23, 2009 – Dan Saffer, Kicker Studio
Tap is the new click (video)

January 30, 2009 – Bobby Fishkin, ReframeIt
Social Annotation, Contextual Collaboration and Online Transparency (video)

February 6, 2009 – Bjoern Hartmann, Stanford HCI Group
Enlightened Trial and Error – Gaining Design Insight Through New Prototyping Tools (video)

February 13, 2009 – Vladlen Koltun, Stanford CS
Computer Graphics as a Telecommunication Medium (video)

February 20, 2009 – Michal Migurski & Tom Carden, Stamen Design
Not Invented Here: Online Mapping Unraveled (video)

February 27, 2009 – Sep Kamvar, Stanford University
We Feel Fine and I Want You To Want Me: Case Studies in Internet Sociology (video)

March 6, 2009 – Jeff Heer, Stanford HCI Group
A Brief History of Data Visualization (video)

March 13, 2009 – Barry Brown, UCSD
Experts at Play (video)

April 3, 2009 – John Lilly and Mike Beltzner, Mozilla Foundation
Firefox, Mozilla & Open Source — Software Design at Scale (video)

April 10, 2009 – Clara Shih, Salesforce.com
Social Enterprise Software Design (video)

April 17, 2009 – Alex Payne, Twitter
The Interaction Design of APIs (video)

April 24, 2009 – Jim Campbell, electronic artist
Far Away Up Close (video)

May 1, 2009 – Gary and Judy Olson, UC Irvine
What Still Matters about Distance? (video)

May 8, 2009 – Dan Siroker, Carrotsticks
How We Used Data to Win the Presidential Election (video)

May 15, 2009 – Scott Snibbe, Snibbe Interactive
Social Immersive Media (video)

May 22, 2009 – Will Wright, Maxis / Electronic Arts
Launching Creative Communities: Lessons from the Spore community experience (video)

May 29, 2009 – Robert Kraut, Carnegie Mellon
Designing Online Communities from Theory (video)

Archived lectures from CS547 can also be downloaded from iTunes.

23 July 2009

How the digital world is changing the rules of modern courtship

Newsweek
As part of a feature series on Facebook (see below), Newsweek explores how the digital world is changing the rules of modern courtship:

“It wasn’t so long ago that the idea of a college romance playing out online—for better or for worse—would have been deemed weird, nerdy, or just plain pathetic. As the thinking went, if you had to go to the Web to find a mate, or break up with one, it must have meant you weren’t capable of attracting anyone in the real world. But then MySpace came along, and Facebook took over—and today, courtship has become a flurry of status messages, e-mail flirtation, and, not so uncommonly, breakups that play out publicly for all 400 of your not-so-closest friends.”

Read full story

Other stories in this series:

  • Facebook at Age Five
    The social networking site now boasts 250 million users, but has yet to make a single dollar in profit. Five years after its inception, a look at whether it can last another five.
  • The Salacious Story Behind Facebook
    What the company doesn’t want you to know about its ignominious start.
  • The Father of Social Networking
    With Facebook, 25 year-old Mark Zuckerberg, turned a dorm-room diversion into a cultural phenomenon. His next goal? To finally turn the company profitable.
  • Face-to-Facebook (video)
    Newsweek talks to Facebook users (and a few self-proclaimed addicts) about how the social networking site fits into their lives.
14 July 2009

Playful innovation and simplicity by Philips

Spark
In an exploration into how games can add value to the innovation process, Philips Design has created ‘Spark’, a board game that stimulates creativity and innovative thinking.

To play Spark, the players move counters representing different characters around the board, with each space along the way describing a certain situation. By considering the potential outcomes for the particular character and situation, a lot of genuinely creative and even ‘out of the box’ ideas are generated. These are used to enrich insight generation during the workshops. The game has proved so successful that there is talk of developing versions for other regions (at the moment it is targeted specifically at Europe) and also using it in other sectors within Philips.

Read full story
Download backgrounder (pdf)

Related info:

  • Video interview with Birgitta ten Napel, Director Market Driven Innovation at Philips Consumer Lifestyle, on how ‘Spark’ adds value to the innovation process
  • Essay by Slava Koslov, Senior Consultant Strategic Futures at Philips Design, on how serious games can generate new ideas and future scenarios

Philips Research meanwhile has created SimplicityLabs as a testing ground for upcoming technologies and applications. It is a place where users can see, evaluate and contribute to new interaction concepts. It allows the company to get user feedback early on, and to improve their applications to suit user needs, well before they hit the market.

(via uselog)

7 July 2009

The future of innovation is … together

 
David Simoes-Brown alerts us on UK’s Nesta Connect about an excellent new collaborative book about The Future of Innovation where hundred of authors give their views.

Over 350 leading thinkers from business, government, consulting and academia from around the globe share their thoughts, experiences, dreams, visions, hopes, concerns, and passions around The Future of Innovation, providing you with insights into tomorrow’s innovation agenda so that you can start acting on it now.

The content is currently only available online and is growing day by day, but eventually a book will be published by Gower in November 2009

A quick scan brought up the following articles (but there is much more):
– Christiane Drews (Virgin Atlantic Airways): The future of innovation … using design thinking interdisciplinary
– Tomás Garcia (Buenaidea): The future of innovation … the innovation university
– Josephine Green (Philips Design): Innovation – for what and by whom?
– Juha Kaario (Nokia Research Center): The future of innovation is serious fun
– Mehmood Khan (Unilever): The future of innovation is about collaboration and co-creation
– Jeremy Myerson (Royal College Of Art)The future of innovation will be people-centred
– Elke den Ouden (Philips Applied Technologies): The future of innovation: created by connected individuals
– Lekshmy Parameswaran (Fuelfor): The future of innovation begins with a story
– B. Joseph Pine II (Strategic Horizons): The future of innovation resides in experiences
– Jaideep Prabhu (University Of Cambridge: The future of innovation in emerging markets
– Marko Torkkeli (Lappeenranta University Of Technology): The future of innovation in emerging markets

29 May 2009

Glued to the machine and going for broke

Going for broke
Natasha Schull, assistant professor in the MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society, says Vegas gambling machines designed to get people to ‘play to extinction’.

“After more than a decade of research that included lengthy observations and interviews focused on gambling machines, Schull is publishing her conclusions on how closely guarded, proprietary mathematical algorithms and immersive, interactive technology are used to keep people gambling until they — in the industry jargon — ‘play to extinction.'”

“I see Las Vegas as a kind of laboratory where experiments are going on between people and machines,” says Schull, a cultural anthropologist whose book on gambling, “Machine Zone: Technology Design and Gambling Addiction in Las Vegas,” is scheduled to be published by the Princeton University Press in 2010.

Read full story