Julian Bleecker's talk at eTech

Julian's talk at eTech 2006 is a highly-relevant-for-my-research-and-personal-interests gig. It was called Pervasive Electronic Games: Theory Objects For Social Play. (be careful: huge pdf). Check regine's note or liz goodman's write-up for more about it. Some of Julian's considerations as he summarized them:

  • Games are theory objects that can reveal and shape human interaction rituals

  • Games can be an approach to research as a way to understand and create new kinds of social practices
  • Games can become ways to knit together, create and play with social formations
  • Games are (also) about reworking our expectations about social behavior and conformity
  • Games can be casual play
  • Games do not have to emphasize complicated "cool", but ultimately illegible technologies
  • Consider it a game design challenge to work below normative, existing technology "high-bars"
  • Seamfulness — Matthew Chalmers, et. al.'s approach to confronting the pot-hole strewn mobile networks — is the design approach to consider creating pervasive networked experiences. The frustration induced by but one network failure is enough to sully even the most beautiful game.
  • Get us to look at the “real” inhabited world in new ways
  • New perspectives lead to new considerations as to what goes on in the world and how we can make the world more habitable and sustainable.

Why do I blog this? Julian's aim was to show that pervasive games can be seen as a way of creating, understanding and researching social interactions and the relationship between we and the worlds we inhabit. Which is obviously also an idea that I fully agree with, using a game like CatchBob is for me a way to take games as an alibi for studying social and even cognitive issues in terms of user experience, collaborative behavior, interaction design or information management.

I really like the issue he raised, they're all starting point in the future of pervasive games that would go beyond collaborative hunt, collective gathering or objects or buddyfinder tools.