A study in play, pleasure and int...
A Study in Play, Pleasure and Interaction Design Brigid Costello1 and Ernest Edmonds2 1School of English, Media and Performing Arts University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia. 2Creativity and Cognition Studios, University of Technology, Sydney, PO Box 123, Broadway NSW 2007, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Abstract. This paper focuses on the design of pleasurably playful interfaces within an interactive art context. It describes the development of a framework of thirteen pleasures of play and outlines the application of this framework during the design process of three interactive artworks. These processes included both initial conceptual development stages and later user evaluation studies. The pa- per compares the artist���s view of the pleasures that might be experienced in each work with the actual pleasures experienced by users during evaluation sessions. The results suggest that the pleasure framework is a useful tool to aid in the de- sign of playful interfaces. Categories and Subject Descriptors A.0 [GENERAL]: Conference Proceedings H.5.2: User interfaces, User-centered design Keywords: Play, Pleasure, User experience 1 Introduction A stereotypical view of artists characterizes them as creative visionaries, free from the real-world constraints of usability that shape much other design work. While for some artists there is still truth in this view, it is a false description for many of those working in the field of interactive art. This type of art is primarily about creating an experience for its audience, who must adopt an active role in order for this experience to occur. Part of the design process of interactive art, therefore, often involves considering how to motivate an audience so that they will interact and engage with the artwork. This need to provoke active reception has made it more common for interactive artists to take a user-centered approach to the process of designing artworks. In doing so, some artists have borrowed or adapted user evaluation methods from design, HCI and social science research. Thus, although the work of interactive artists and designers are often still quite different in terms of aims and outcomes, in some cases their methods of practice are becoming increasingly similar. The Creativity and Cognition Studios (CCS) at the University of Technology, Syd- ney is a research group that has been established to study these changes in the nature of interactive art practice. Its members focus on researching creative collaborations, creativity support and interactive art experience. The research described here stems from the latter area of focus and is part of a larger practice-based study examining strategies for stimulating play behaviors in interactive art audiences. This research is Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. Designing Pleasurable Products and Interfaces, 22-25 August 2007, Helsinki, Finland �� 2007 ACM ISBN 978-1-59593-942-5/07/10���$5.00
Designing Pleasurable Products and Interfaces, 22-25 August 2007, University of Art and Design Helsinki 77 being conducted by interactive artist Brigid Costello under the supervision of Profes- sor Ernest Edmonds. This paper describes an evaluative user study that was conducted on three different interactive artworks all created by Brigid Costello1. This project began with the hypothesis that stimulating playful audience behavior might be a way of achieving a deep level of audience engagement. Interactive artists dread the type of audience participant who spends very little time with their work and who then says, ���that they ���got it��� but that it didn���t ���do much���.��� . Much interactive art focuses on producing an experience together with audience participants and ���get- ting it���, in the sense of understanding a message, is not really the point. It is important, however, for audience participants to engage with and explore an artwork in order to experience it fully. Engagement and exploration both occur during playful behavior and this link lead to play being chosen as a research focus here. The processes of exploration are seen as a precursor to playful behavior. Through exploration the unfamiliar becomes familiar and it is then that play occurs . Studies of playful behavior report an oscillation between these states of exploration and play with the player switching back and forth between the explorative goal ���what can this object do��� and the playful goal ���what can I do with this object��� . Player boredom is the common trigger for the switch back to exploration with the player then seeking new features or possibilities to play with. The interplay between these two goals has also been seen to occur when an audience participant encounters an interactive artwork . While an interactive art experience will always involve a level of explorative un- familiarity, it may not necessarily lead to playful familiarity2. If it does, however, the oscillation between play and exploration may drive audiences to experience deeper levels of engagement with the work. It was for this reason that this project chose to focus on the stimulation of playful behavior as a key design strategy. A survey of play theory lead to the development of a framework of thirteen pleasure categories of play. This paper describes the framework and outlines its application in the design of three interactive artworks. The framework was used at several different stages of the design process during concept development, in mid-stage artist���s reflec- tions and lastly as part of a formal user evaluation study. The study aimed to discover whether the pleasure categories that had been designed into the works were actually experienced by participants. We were also interested in revealing whether the frame- work could be a useful tool as part of a user evaluation methodology. Lastly, we wanted to see whether the framework as an evaluation tool would illuminate future design strategies for each work. 2 The Pleasures of Play Play can be used to describe a very wide range of experiences and, in keeping with this, can be defined most broadly as ���free movement within a more rigid structure��� . This definition is particularly suited to the interactive art context given its 1 Although Brigid Costello is the primary author of this paper she will, for consistency, use the third person throughout. 2 Indeed for some artists��� purposes playful familiarity may not be at all desirable.
Designing Pleasurable Products and Interfaces, 22-25 August 2007, University of Art and Design Helsinki 78 equally broad range of experiential outcomes. It also suits the experiential aims of this research project because it echoes the interrelationship between the participant modes of ���what can this object do��� (rigid structure) and ���what can I do with this object��� (free movement). In order to develop design strategies for stimulating play, however, we needed to examine the experience of play in more detail. Play is often associated with pleasurable feelings like joy, delight or amusement. Indeed, according to Groos, whenever ���an act is performed solely because of the pleasure it affords, there is play��� . Like Groos, many other theorists have focused on pleasure in their analyses of play experience. A survey of these different perspectives led us to develop a frame- work of thirteen categories of play experience that could possibly arouse pleasurable feelings. The aim was to develop a tool that could be used to aid the experiential de- sign of artworks that stimulated play behaviors. Our framework of the thirteen pleasure categories of play was developed as a syn- thesis of the ideas of six theorists all of whom approach play and pleasure from differ- ent perspectives. Firstly, the framework was inspired by the theories of philosophers Karl Groos and Roger Callois whose ideas arose out of their desire to accurately define a play experience [8, 4]. Secondly, the framework was influenced by the ideas of psy- chologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who focused on play as a type of pleasurable ex- perience and psychologist Michael Apter who focused on the stimulation of play [6, 1]. Lastly, the framework drew on the ideas of game designers Pierre Garneau and Marc LeBlanc who were interested in delineating types of pleasure in games [7, 9]. Table 1 summarizes the ideas used from each theorist and shows how each relates to the final synthesis of thirteen pleasure categories (rightmost column). Given the very different objectives of each theorist, the table should not be read as equating all these ideas although it does point to some consistencies in theme amongst the six. The various theorists��� ideas were each filtered by the project���s focus on interactive art with some ideas consequently being given less emphasis in the final framework3. It should also be noted that the different categories are each capable of arousing displeasure as much as pleasure. The categories were titled ���pleasures���, however, because of pleas- ure���s association with both play and absorption . A participant who experiences displeasure is liable to become distracted and to stop exploring an artwork. The title is representative of the project���s focus on stimulating play and also of our desire to en- courage deep engagement with an artwork. There are four external factors that are considered to act as modifying variables for each of the thirteen pleasure categories. Behavioral psychologist Berlyne, like Apter, focused on the arousal of play. He developed4 four categories that he describes as discrepancies, which, as the name suggests, arouse play by piquing interest. These four categories are novelty or change, surprise content, complexity and, lastly, uncertainty or conflict . These variables, it is suggested, will have an effect on the strength of the pleasurable feeling that can be evoked by each category in the framework. For example, a work may be trying to arouse pleasure in creation but this 3 Garneau���s category of advancement and completion, for example, while clearly of great impor- tance in a game, was considered to be not as important within an interactive art experience and was subsumed under the final pleasure of competition. 4 Berlyne���s categories were also developed through the work of Heckenhausen.