Design Games for In-Situ Design

Design Games for In-Situ Design

Erik Kristiansen (Department of Communication, Business and IT, Roskilde University, Roskilde, Denmark)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/jmhci.2013070101
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The mobile culture has spawned a host of context-based products, like location-based and tag-based applications. This presents a new challenge for the designer. There is a need of design methods that acknowledge the context and allows it to influence the design ideas. This article focuses on a design problem where an in-situ design practice may further the early design process: the case of designing a pervasive game. Pervasive games are computer games, played using the city as a game board and often using mobile phones with GPS. Some contextual design methods exist, but the author proposes an approach that calls for the designer to conceptualise and perform ideas in-situ, that is on the site, where the game is supposed to be played. The problem was to design a creativity method that incorporated in-situ design work and which generated game concepts for pervasive games. The proposed design method, called sitestorming, is based on a game using Situationistic individual exploration of the site and different types of game cards, followed by a joint evaluation of the generated ideas. A series of evaluations showed that the designers found the method enjoyable to use, that the method motivated idea generation, and that using in-situ design influenced their design ideas.
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The context of the user or the designer in a design process has been subject to some discussion. By in-situ design we go one step further and allow the contextual nature of the design process to influence the design. Artefacts which are meant for use in a particular site may benefit from a design process which is carried out in the exact same or somewhat similar context. Various design methods acknowledge the value of the context of either the users or the designers. The design method called “Contextual design” focuses on providing user-centric design solutions (Beyer & Holtzblatt, 1998), “Situated design” focuses on how the design session context influences the design (Le Dantec, 2009), “Place-specific design” recognizes the need for an understanding of how place is practised (Messeter, 2009), while “Bodystorming” (Oulasvirta et al., 2003) and “Place storming” (Anderson & McGonigal, 2004) take the designer outside to perform the design work. The missing link is the merger of a place-specific understanding with a practical design process. This paper proposes the sitestorming design method, which is an in-situ design process.

A “pervasive game” (Montola et al., 2009) is a kind of contextual computer game, that expands the magic circle of a game performance, either spatially, socially or temporally in comparison to non-pervasive (normal) games. In practice, the term “pervasive games” refers to urban games played in the streets of a city using pervasive technology, like mobile phones and GPS. The game play of these games is unique, because usually the site is large, includes many distracting artefacts that are not part of the game, and is often a public space, where there is traffic and other people pass through. Pervasive games therefore calls for a design method, that takes the nature of site-specificity into account. The term site-specific in this understanding, originates from the field of site-specific art and site-specific performance and describes a piece of art or a performance which is produced for a specific site or venue (Pearson, 2010). Basing a performance on a specific site opens for the site to make its presence in the performance, and site-specific performances often work with the site, either creating performances that unite the performance with properties of the site or deliberately plays against it (cf. Lankosti et al., 2007; Pearson, 2010).

Pervasive game design have been subject to several studies (the most comprehensive being a book on pervasive game design by Montola et al., 2009). Little work, however, has been done in the direction of understanding the design problem of these games. As site-specific performances benefit from using the site in unexpected and creative ways, pervasive games and other urban games may benefit from a design method that deliberately works with ideas based on the characteristics of the site. Inspired by site-specific performance design, art practices and design games, we propose a design method for early idea generation of pervasive games or any other site-specific game.

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