Extending the CSCW boundaries to games

One of the most interesting journal paper I've read for months is this Moving with the Times: IT Research and the Boundaries of CSCW by Andy Crabtree, Tom Rodden and Steve Benford, in Journal of CSCW, Issue: Volume 14, Number 3 (June 2005), pp. 217 - 251. The authors advocates for extending the boundaries of Computer Supported Collaborative Work to fit with new research agendas in computer science: mobile/ambient/pervasive/mixed reality/ubiquitous computing and to correspond to the movement which makes computing going from workplaces to other "spaces": home/art performance and other domains like games or photography.

Their point is that CSCW, as an interdisciplinary research field, is still relevant to address new fields than just 'work'. Using an ethnomethodological study of a location-based game, they exemplify this issue to demonstrate the continued salience of existing CSCW approaches and concepts that were developed in the study of work to study ludic phenomenon.

We employ it here to show that ludic pursuits such as games may be studied as collaborative or cooperative activities that rely on, exploit, and exhibit some familiar social organizational characteristics, and that those characteristics may be drawn upon to inform the design of technologies supporting ludic pursuits as they have been used to inform the design of technologies supporting what Gaver (2001) describes as ‘rational’ pursuits in the workplace. The study is used as a concrete example then and followed by further discussion of the boundaries of CSCW, and the salience of existing CSCW approaches and concepts to new and emerging agendas of IT research.

Why do I blog this? The underlying take in this paper is to make computer scientists and interaction designerss (well the reader of this Journal of CSCW) aware that games and playful activities are not kid stuff and deserved to be included in the CSCW research repertoire because it's relevant and important. I like this statement. In addition, the paper offers great insights about their ethnographical study of the Can You See Me Now? location-based game, which addresses various issues of interests to our projects (like how players dealt with uncertainty).