“Bring­ing the Imag­i­nary Back into Play” presented by Gazzard


Session Title:

  • Interface Play: Media Environments for Ludic Cyborgs

Presentation Title:

  • Bring­ing the Imag­i­nary Back into Play




  • Panel:  Interface Play: Media Environments for Ludic Cyborgs

    The term ‘ludic’ can be linked to many as­pects of play and games, but what does it mean to be play­ful and where and how does this play occur? Whereas the­o­rists write about dig­i­tal games ex­ist­ing as goal-ori­en­tated, rule-based sys­tems the act of ex­plo­ration, dis­cov­ery and plea­sure of the play ex­pe­ri­ence is often ne­glected or sec­ondary to this state­ment. In writ­ing about non-dig­i­tal games Cail­lois’ (1958) dis­tin­guishes be­tween “agon, alea, mim­icry and ilinx” and al­though com­pe­ti­tion, chance, make-be­lieve and ver­tigo can all exist within the dig­i­tal game world, the en­closed screen of the vir­tual realm mean some of these cat­e­gories often evolve in their in­ter­pre­ta­tions. How­ever, the ubiq­uity of mo­bile-phone tech­nolo­gies, in­te­grated GPS sys­tems and cam­eras allow for the ge­o­graph­i­cal land­scape to be trans­formed at the touch of the but­ton.

    The growth of aug­mented re­al­ity (AR) tech­nol­ogy now al­lows the screen to dis­play fic­tional ob­jects lay­ered onto the quo­tid­ian world. Ap­pli­ca­tions such as Layar on the iOS and An­droid op­er­at­ing sys­tems cre­ate new plat­forms for play­ful ex­pe­ri­ences, often recre­at­ing our child­hood mem­o­ries of fic­tional worlds, imag­i­nary places and ideas sur­round­ing new rules of play. Through using AR we often no longer have to rely solely on our own imag­i­na­tions to cre­ate fic­tional worlds as the mo­bile in­ter­face cre­ates a win­dow for us to see through and in­ter­act with both the place we are sit­u­ated in and the cor­re­spond­ing layer placed on top. AR game­spaces are now dig­i­tally sit­u­ated in the real world land­scape, tem­porar­ily chang­ing our re­la­tion­ships with the space and form­ing portable play­grounds of ex­pe­ri­ences. Using ex­am­ples of games found in the Layar ap­pli­ca­tion, as well as aug­mented re­al­ity games de­vel­oped for the iPhone, this paper will re-ex­am­ine Cail­lois’ orig­i­nal cat­e­gories of play as a way of un­der­stand­ing the ubiq­uity of ludic in­ter­faces in light of our real world ex­plo­rations. In doing so, it will also high­light the im­por­tance of ex­plo­ration and dis­cov­ery in how we per­ceive, per­form and cre­ate spaces of play­ful in­ter­ac­tion.

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