Panel: Interface Play: Media Environments for Ludic Cyborgs
The term ‘ludic’ can be linked to many aspects of play and games, but what does it mean to be playful and where and how does this play occur? Whereas theorists write about digital games existing as goal-orientated, rule-based systems the act of exploration, discovery and pleasure of the play experience is often neglected or secondary to this statement. In writing about non-digital games Caillois’ (1958) distinguishes between “agon, alea, mimicry and ilinx” and although competition, chance, make-believe and vertigo can all exist within the digital game world, the enclosed screen of the virtual realm mean some of these categories often evolve in their interpretations. However, the ubiquity of mobile-phone technologies, integrated GPS systems and cameras allow for the geographical landscape to be transformed at the touch of the button. The growth of augmented reality (AR) technology now allows the screen to display fictional objects layered onto the quotidian world. Applications such as Layar on the iOS and Android operating systems create new platforms for playful experiences, often recreating our childhood memories of fictional worlds, imaginary places and ideas surrounding new rules of play. Through using AR we often no longer have to rely solely on our own imaginations to create fictional worlds as the mobile interface creates a window for us to see through and interact with both the place we are situated in and the corresponding layer placed on top. AR gamespaces are now digitally situated in the real world landscape, temporarily changing our relationships with the space and forming portable playgrounds of experiences. Using examples of games found in the Layar application, as well as augmented reality games developed for the iPhone, this paper will re-examine Caillois’ original categories of play as a way of understanding the ubiquity of ludic interfaces in light of our real world explorations. In doing so, it will also highlight the importance of exploration and discovery in how we perceive, perform and create spaces of playful interaction.
- Alison Gazzard is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in New Media at the University of Bedfordshire, UK, where she also holds the position of Editorial Assistant for Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. She was awarded a PhD from the University of Hertfordshire titled ‘Paths, Players, Places: Towards an Understanding of Mazes and Spaces in Videogames’ and an MA in 3D Computer Animation from the National Centre of Computer Animation at Bournemouth University. Her research on videogame spaces, players, mapping and location-based media has been presented at various international conferences as well as being published in journals such as Game Studies and the Journal of Gaming & Virtual Worlds. Her current research interests include play, paths, journeys and time in both real and virtual world spaces.
Full text (PDF) p. 923-925