Pervasive Games and CSCW

New uses for mobile pervasive games - Lessons learned for CSCW systems to support collaboration in vast work sites by Matthew Chalmers and Oskar Juhlin, paper for the workshop about gaming at European CSCW in September 2005. The paper brings forward the idea of advances in pervasive games research (mostly location-based games) as of benefit for specific mobile work where a vast site is both topic and resource to get the job done. They discuss how place-based annotations and information sharing could possibly improve individual work, collaboration as well as learning.

recent research in pervasive gaming demonstrates principles and lessons that can be applied more generally in CSCW systems for mobile work in vast work settings. There are similarities between many pervasive games and mobile work in vast settings since both have locations as resource and as topic, and more general issues to draw on with regard to how a large unfamiliar space becomes a place that one has experience of; that one understands in a social and practical way, and can interact in.

The similarities are:

  • Many forms of mobile work include collaboration and a focus on the geography both as a topic and a resource in the work. The size of a work site influence the way work is done. A vast work site has the consequence that, workers have to move around to handle tasks, finding colleagues to enable collaboration is difficult, organisational procedures are difficult to relate to specific local objects, movement in vehicles negatively affect possibilities to communicate with locally available colleagues, and mobile workers become more solitary than co-located workers.
  • Coordination is then achieved through negotiations between different localities that take into account the changing situation in each locality

The articles gives example of collaborative activities for which space and others' location is important: snow clearance in airport + road + bus driver's.

The authors then argues that

games do not just support the use of locations as resource in mobile game play, but also establish collaboration on finding and marking locations, and building up experience and understanding of those locations fit into a larger picture of social and technological interaction. (...) Some of the games above support context dependent gesture recognition. It includes two dimensions of context dependence. (...) We see strong and useful parallels with the situation of workers who create their work within organisational rules but also within their wider technical, social and environmental setting. The challenge for future research is to allow such design potential to be realised in ways that build on current work practices, and yet let people change those practices for the better as they use our technology to go about their work in their way in their work community.

Why do I blog this? this is very close to what we think too :) Our take is rather to study how players collaborate using these games so that we can understand how collaboration might be affected by location information (this is actually my phd thesis). This paper is very relevant to my phd word since it fills a kind of missing link about why using a pervasive game to inform CSCW practices.