Playful situations at home

"Playfully situated messaging in the home: appropriation of messaging resources in entertainment" by Mark Perry (Brunel University, UK), Dorothy Rachovides (Brunel University, UK), Alex Taylor (Microsoft Research, Cambridge, UK) and Laurel Swan (Brunel University, UK) is a paper from the "Entertainment media at home - looking at the social aspects" workshop at CHI 2006. The authors promotes an an embodied, everyday gaming paradigm in which people artfully employ the everyday resources in the world around them to entertain themselves and others. This is exemplified by a field study of how people are engaged in playful activity through (asynchronous) messaging at home.

The activities that we have seen are very much about household members creatively making use of the resources around them to entertain themselves, and (they hope) the others around them. Here lies a serious point for technology designers: systems that open themselves up for, perhaps unanticipated, use (cf. Robinson, 1993) give their users a powerful tool for artfully integrating them into other practices, a good deal of which in the home are playful and entertainment-related. By allowing users to generate, co- opt, display and annotate a variety of media we can give them the resources to do many forms of communication, one of which is the ability to support play. And whilst play does embody social rules, it is the very socially constructed nature of these rules, and not their technological embodiment, that makes them powerful, and allows them to be applied in a variety of ways. We would therefore not encourage strong rule sets that form ‘methods’ of play, but would rather allow these to be generated on an ad hoc basis, and to draw from the existing social practices around messaging that household members already use in their everyday lives.

Why do I blog this? What I like here is the idea that gaming is not just interacting with a gaming system (console, PC...) but something broader that would involved everyday artifacts.