Installations, disruption of technology, and performing play: a social play design portfolio

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Abstract

Installations, Disruption of Technology, & Performing Play (IDTPP) is a portfolio of original play interventions created between 2014 and 2020 that sought to instigate connections between people through the shared experience of play. The portfolio comprises practice-based research projects, with outputs in digital and analogue forms that have been showcased internationally. Each contribution interrogates the application of social play design strategies within set design constraints. As a result, IDTPP presents a rigorous examination of design practices for play that aims to bring people together in the same space. IDTPP is informed by engagement with digital game design practices, pervasive games, street games, installation, video game curation, play theories, and user experience design. The portfolio is structured around specific design constraints such as: access (limited timeframes vs extended timeframes); permission (low level vs high levels of participation); setting (how play can be helped or hindered by its site); and social technology (easing or highlighting social interaction). The constraints for each project are sequential and interdependent, with the learning from one project feeding into the research questions of the next. Findings have been drawn from analysis of the work, drawing upon artist-as-researcher reflections, critical evaluation, and user feedback. IDTPP makes a significant contribution to knowledge by demonstrating that play, in its many forms, has social benefits, whilst also mapping out audience and site-specific design strategies that can be applied by other practitioners in the field. The significance of the design concepts within IDTPP has been recognised, through an invitation to showcase social play on BBC Click Live in 2019, the formation of a partnership with Cadbury Heroes in 2020 to promote the benefits of social play for creating connections and addressing isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the commission of a large-scale installation for socially distant play at V&A Dundee.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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