[ISEA2011] Panel: Al­i­son Gaz­zard – Bring­ing the Imag­i­nary back into Play

Panel Statement

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