PLAY DESIGN

About the course

I have taught variations of this course for both gradutate and undergraduate levels from 2011 until 2018. The curriculum evolved over time, and the version here is a combination of the undegrad and graduate courses of the last year I taught Play Design


COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course is designed to expand the intellectual and professional scope of interactive entertainment design students. Students who successfully finish the course should be able to:

  • Analyse and discuss the cultural importance of play as a form of expression.
  • Describe the possible uses of play as an instrument or effect of the design of interactive services.
  • Explore the creative and expressive potential of play outside the scope of game design.
  • Design and implement play experiences on digital environments.

This is not a game design course. The purpose of this course is to explore play as an expressive form and creative framework outside of the domain of games. As such, the learning goals and activities are not oriented towards game design. The purpose of this course is to explore the use of play as a source of inspiration and creativity in the design of interactive experiences. Throughout the course, students will get familiarized with different theories on play, and how they can be used to enhance services, products, and locations. This is a course about making people play, without games. The course will give a hands-on approach to play theory, and an academic understanding of the practice of playful design.

Course Projects

Project 1

  • Playful digital service design
  • Game design: alternative controllers / pervasive / hybrid physical-digital

Project 2

  • Toy design
  • Activist media design
  • Playful social media design
  • Disobedient electronics
  • Dark gamification

TEXTBOOKS

The course has three textbooks: DeKoven, Bernie. The Well-Played Game. Cambridge: The MIT Press (2014) Caillois, Roger. Man, Play and Games. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press (2001) Sicart, Miguel. Play Matters. Cambridge: The MIT Press (2014)


LECTURES, READINGS, AND SLIDES


Some of the slides may not make any sense outside of teaching context.


Also, some slides are dated, literally and figuratively.

Lecture 1

Play Design as Critical Technical Practice

Readings

  • Philip E. Agre. “Toward a Critical Technical Practice: Lessons Learned in Trying to Reform AI”. [Available online][]
  • Paul Dourish, Janet Finlay, Phoebe Sengers, and Peter Wright. 2004. Reflective HCI: towards a critical technical practice. In CHI ‘04 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA ‘04). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1727-1728.
  • Vera Khovanskaya, Maria Bezaitis, and Phoebe Sengers. 2016. The Case of the Strangerationist: Re-interpreting Critical Technical Practice. In Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS ‘16). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 134-145.

Lecture 2

Understanding Play

Readings:

  • Sicart, Miguel. Play Matters. Chapter 1
  • De Koven, B. The Well Played Game, chapters 1 to 6
  • Caillois, R. Man, Play and Games, chapters 1, 2, 5 and 6

Lecture 3

Play and Playfulness

Readings:

  • Sicart, Miguel. Play Matters Chapter 2
  • Goffman, Erving. “Fun in Games”. In Encounters. Two Studies in the Sociology of Interaction. New York: Penguin, 1972. Pages 15-81.
  • De Koven, B. The Well Played Game, chapters 6 to 11

Lecture 4

Design and Play

Readings:

  • Sicart, Play Matters Chapter 7
  • Löwgren, Jonas and Erik Stolterman. Thoughtful Interaction Design. A Design Perspective on Information Technology. Cambridge: Mass. The MIT Press (2004), pp. 50 – 100

Lecture 5

Play and Toys

Readings:

  • Sicart, Miguel. Play Matters Chapter 3
  • Benjamin, Walter. “Old Toys”. In Selected Writings. Volume 2, Part 1 (1927 – 1930). New York: Belknap Press, 2005. Pages 98-102.
  • Benjamin, Walter. “The Cultural History of Toys”. In Selected Writings. Volume 2, Part 1 (1927 – 1930). New York: Belknap Press, 2005. Pages 113-116.
  • Benjamin, Walter. “Toys and Play. Marginal Notes on a Monumental Work”. In Selected Writings. Volume 2, Part 1 (1927 – 1930). New York: Belknap Press, 2005. Pages 117-121.

Lecture 6

Playgrounds

Readings:

  • Sicart, Miguel. Play Matters Chapter 4
  • Kozlovsky, Roy. “Adventure Playgrounds and Postwar Reconstruction”. In Marta Gutman and Ning de Coninck-Smith (Eds.), Designing Modern Childhoods: History, Space, and the Material Culture of Children; An International Reader. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2007. Pages 171-192.
  • Dattner, Richard. “The Social Function of Play”. In Design for Play. Cambridge: The MIT Press (1974). Pages 17-22
  • Dattner, Richard. “Criteria for Design”. In Design for Play. Cambridge: The MIT Press (1974). Pages 33-52
  • Dattner, Richard. “Children as Designers”. In Design for Play. Cambridge: The MIT Press (1974). Pages 53-64

Lecture 7

The Politics of Play

Readings

  • Sicart, Play Matters Chapter 6
  • DiSalvo, Carl Adversarial Design Chapter 1
  • Brey, P. “The Politics of Computer Systems and the Ethics of Design.” In The Politics of Computer Systems and the Ethics of Design. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Rotterdam Univ. Press, 1998.

Lecture 8

Persuasive Play

Readings:

  • Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Chapters 3 and 4
  • Boal, Augusto. Theatre of the Oppressed. Chapter 4
  • Bogost, Ian. Persuasive Games. Chapter 1

Lecture 9

The Ethics of Play

Readings:

  • Sicart, Play Matters Chapter 5
  • Consalvo, Mia. “Rule Sets, Cheating, and Magic Circles: Studying Games and Ethics”, In IRIE Vol. 4(12/2005): 7-12
  • Burke, Richard. ““Work” and “Play”.” Ethics 82, no. 1 (1971): 33-47.
  • Bynum, Terrell Ward. “Flourishing Ethics.” Ethics and Information Technology 8, no. 4 (2006): doi:10.1007/s10676-006-9107-1.

Lecture 10

The Aesthetics of Play

Readings

  • Becker, H.S. Art as Collective Action. American Sociological Review. Vol. 39. No. 6 (1974) 767-776
  • Bishop, Claire. “Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics.” October (2004): 51-79.
  • Hickey, Dave. “The Heresy of Zone Defense”. In Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy. Los Angeles: Art issues Press, 1997. Available online