Thursday, May 21, 2009

Class 6: Social Play

Well done on the first set of project presentations!
You have also learned about social play and the social ritual of play.

The presentations touched on some very interesting aspects, and I did not want to interrupt, but sorry that I did: because of Rob's great comment, I had to quickly mention the difference between parallel and non-parallel play; thanks to the last group who let me 'use' them to explain the concept.

I would like to dig a little bit deeper here, to help clarify if you have some questions about it (I am only figuring it out slowly myself):

Think of 3 activities: (Note: they are all competitive)

This is a parallel game, or 'race', as the player have no 'direct' way of influencing the other player's physical performance. There is no 'offense' or 'defense'. The players face the same direction. The players' spaces are physically separated (by a white line).

Aussie Rules
This is a non-parallel game, or 'match'. The player has a 'direct' way of influencing the other player's physical performance (you can chose to kick goals or prevent goals, the defenders in American football are an extreme example: their only job is to defend, they will never score). There is 'offense' and 'defense'. The players face each other (especially at the start). A player can only be as good as the other opponent allows him to be. The players share a space. The players experience bodily feedback from opponents.

Different to traditional sports such as Aussie Rules above, but it is still a non-parallel game: The players face each other, but they do NOT share a space, (the net separates them). However, they share a ball: this allows for 'offense' and 'defense'. The players still experience bodily feedback from opponents, but 'through' the ball as proxy.

Social implications
So does that mean that only Aussie Rules is social? No, as Rob will hopefully confirm, a 400m game is also social: I predict that his personal best was probably achieved in a race with others, possibly amongst a large crowd: the social presence of others affects your physical performance (can be negative, too, see stage fright), so it was a social experience.
But these sports experiences are also not the same socially. We can only conclude that they are social, and different. But what we can do is acknowledging these differences, and considering them in our designs.

How? (Mark might ask)
By realizing that there are 2 spaces in exergames (at least in most of the ones we play):

1. The exertion space: this is the space in which we exert our body.
This space can be social, for example when playing with others in the same room, but the experience is (so far) pretty much always parallel: we never physically interfere with the other player. You can imagine a 400m-line drawn between each Wii player, and you get the idea.

2. The virtual space: this is what happens in the virtual world, displayed on the screen.
This space can also be parallel (see 400m Wii Olympics: parallel in both exertion and virtual space), mimicking the parallel exertion activity in the exertion space.
OR: you, as the designer, can change this, and make it non-parallel: for example, your Wii Olympics avatars can run into each other and push each other over to win. OR: Wii tennis: the shared ball is virtual. Or Wii Aussie Rules: the virtual space is shared.
With these examples you can see why Wii tennis is easier to design than Wii Aussie Rules in terms of input control: in Wii tennis, you only have to accept that there is no physical feedback from the virtual ball (the feedback transcends from the virtual back into the exertion space), in Wii Aussie Rules, the physical feedback that is missing is from the ball and the other players, and accomodating that is harder.

And this is why we have to know about this, as we need to consider these social aspects of different sports experiences in our designs:
For example, by knowing that parallel exertion play turns into non-parallel virtual play, we can accommodate for its shortcomings:
  • we need to think how to compensate for the lack of physical feedback
  • but also the fact that the players do not face each other anymore while thinking about
  • how they can still experience offense and defense
  • ...
Think of Breakout for Two: if each brick would immediately break when hit the first time, it would be a parallel game (in the exertion and virtual space), but because the bricks are shared and only break and score a point when hit three times, the virtual space offers non-parallel play, allowing for offense and defense.

Technology does allow accommodating people with different preferences (parallel or non-parallel sportspeople), but also to mix these different sports styles to allow for new experiences, such as turning a 400m race into a 'match', allowing people with different physical capabilities to play together, play over a distance, ...
and these are the opportunities for you as designers!
So grab them!

Did I get this right Rob?

See also as example:


Please post your project URLs as separate blog entries and allow for comments.
Read the papers for next week.
Comment on today's lecture here.
Grade each project you have seen in its respective blog entry's comments. (You should know by now what makes a great game, so use that knowledge and its terminology)
Provide an explanation if you feel comfortable and think it is helpful.

Roly Poly

Blog is up for our game.
We're group A.
Sophie Bryson
Raphael Chung
Thomas Eccles
Gan Cheng
Timothy Goschnick
Victoria Na




Help! Still looking to join a group...

Hello everyone, It's Vicky.
Sorry for the inconvenience and the hassle but I'm still struggling to find a group to join, so if anyone is kind enough to let me join a group, I'll be more than happy to accept the invitation.
My mobile number is here for contact: 0412478559
Also feel free to send an e-mail instead if you want:

Your projects go here

Your project's website needs to be entered here, on the main page, as a new, separate blog entry. You are all admins, so you can just log in and create a new blog entry.
If you do not want to create a new webpage, you can also document your project with the blog entry, of course.