Designing for Togetherness?
- Presentation speakers
Every year or so my mother and I sit down and watch The Joy Luck Club. It’s about a group of women who regularly meet up for a game of mahjong. They tell stories and share memories while they play. The game itself isn’t important (though their personalities are reflected through their playstyles). For them, the game is just an excuse to get together and socialize.
I think about my family when I’m working on a project. I think about the idea of a family, and, more abstractly, I think about togetherness.
Games are tools to connect you with the people you love (or those you want to get to know). But how can we effectively design games for the purpose of bringing people together?
This talk presents a design philosophy for “Heads Up” gameplay — gameplay that brings your attention to your environment and the people around you rather than your screen. A “Heads Up” game embodies these values:
Eye Contact: Players engage in face-to-face interactions with each other
Conversation: Players actively converse with each other using a relatable vocabulary that’s easily understood by spectators
Physical Contact: The game encourages playful physical contact between players
Context: The game makes use of the physical environment it’s being played in
Flexibility: The game adapts itself to different environments and skill sets
Personality: Players can express their personalities through their chosen style of play
These qualities, when working effectively together, create a memorable shared experience for those involved.
To demonstrate how to practically apply the “Heads Up” design philosophy, this talk presents a series of prototypes and finished games that explore this space. Each game will be related back to the “Heads Up” design values as a measure of its success.
Blind Self Portrait Game
This prototype is a paper game created by two kids. One player holds a notebook against her face with the notebook’s drawing surface facing outwards towards the other player. The second player announces particular facial features that the first player must draw (e.g., “Draw your left eye!”). The blind player must attempt to draw an accurate self portrait by tracing over her features.
Graveyard Snuggle is a physical party game played with a mobile device. Likened to Twister and Hot Potato, players gradually entangle their limbs by placing one of their body parts on another player’s body part (e.g., “Place your left arm on the most serious player’s skull!”).
Biba is currently being developed in partnership with several physical playground manufacturers. Biba is a collection of augmented reality games that interface with playground equipment like slides and monkey bars. The playground becomes the level design for the activities presented on the mobile device. This talk will share Biba’s three big iterations — each incorporating the physical environment in a different way.
At the end of the talk, attendees will understand both the value of “Heads Up” design as well as the practical ways to incorporate these values into their own designs.