Pressing play is a year long self-driven honours thesis project that incorporated practice led research, a publication as well as a detailed design project all explorating the question
What are the potentials of gameful design strategies in producing engagement with and within physical spaces?
This project is a focus and turning point in my paedagogy where earlier projects are synthesized and the exploration of the interior withinin my practice is done within it’s proper context. The project also opened up a new and exciting set of conversations and opportunities.
In order to establish the role of play within this study, it is important to consider it within the context of games because the two are intimately related concepts. The meanings within game interaction are mediated by play and the goal of successful game design is meaningful play. Therefore although it is natural to think that the most successful way to engender play is through games, however due to the nature of the outcome of games needing to be quantifiable, it can sometimes detract from producing emergent outcomes.
Open-ended imaginative play builds a set of skills including self-regulation, which is what children develop when at social, imaginative, unplanned unsupervised play. It is these types of skills that are considered useful to address some of the issues contemporary and near-future cities are facing.
However, when approaching the subject of games within a non-game context, the term gamification often arises. It is also the case that whereas true play is always engaged in voluntarily, many gamification designs leaves you with no choice. Observing the baggage that comes with this term of incentivising engagement, I refer to the term “gameful design” – design for gameful experiences used in a number of papers as the preferred terminology used in this project.
The notion of gamefulness—the extent to which spaces engender or allow for a spirit of gaming and playing—might be considered an additional criterion by which we measure a city’s livability7. Gamfulness is a concept embraced within the projects created in this study, and should be considered as complementary to but distinct from playfulness.
In designing the projects to date, a series of gameful design levers have been identified to provide a framework for design – relational, systematic, experiential and environmental. These levers are presented as gameful design choices and although are by no means a definitive list, the levers discussed are identified as important to the production of space. The concept of these levers will be explored and used as a framework to discuss the projects within this study.
The projects although temporal and interventionist in nature, begin to suggest ways that we can be gameful within our every spaces. However, gamefulness isn’t something we should hope to experience, but instead aspire to create. Overall I hope to make spaces that attract other makers / hackers, producing spaces that stimulate thought, inspire questioning and a kind of hacking, where users and visitors are situated in the space of possibility.
My practice exchanges energy and inspiration from people. The series of “mini” projects were an opportunity to collaborate with a number of prominent game and play designers. I was able to create rulesets and devices aimed at testing and shifting existing relationships that people had with each other and with the spaces themselves.
The images in the site indicate the summaries of each “mini” project. They appear as long scrolls as within the book they are 2 page spreads flipped sideways, breaking the rythem of the readers flow, creating a moment where they need to choose to continue to read the regularly orientated text or to flip the book / page to read about the projects. Full interaction with the text can be found at > Pressing Play <