Background information

In recent years, games have increasingly received attention as a source of inspiration for areas other than game and play itself. This idea to use game elements has by some been labeled as ‘gamification’. Besides gamification applied in the design of concrete products and applications, researchers have also explored how game design can inform educational and work practice.

In similar lines of reasoning, one could raise the question of when and how games can be used to enhance HCI research. A game-like environment may, for instance, make research participants feel safe to fail. Games are often understood as environments in which it is safe to experiment. As games are commonplace elements of everyday life from childhood, people know they can try out new strategies or ideas without severe implications. Similarly, creating a game-like environment that allows participants to express themselves more freely can potentially prevent socially desirable responses and in that sense be beneficial for the quality of the outcomes of the research process. Also, games can be used to structure (group) processes. The potentially casual character of a game may both act as an icebreaker in this respect and ensure a more equivalent contribution of all participants, e.g. by turn-by-turn participation or by letting participants participate from the viewpoints of different roles within a game. Furthermore, a game can be used to introduce future experiences in a playful manner. For instance, games usually offer a narrative, which lowers the threshold for the introduction of futuristic elements (such as new products or services) that provide a glimpse at possible future experiences.

Suggested reading

Literature on game-based research methods and tools in HCI research is still scarce. However, HCI researchers have started to explore how to employ game design elements to improve the ways in which they engage their users, similar to what has been be a more common approach in participatory design. Some examples of such research are listed below:

  • Bernhaupt, R., Weiss, A., Obrist, M., & Tscheligi, M. (2007). Playful probing: making probing more fun. In Human-Computer Interaction–INTERACT 2007(pp. 606-619). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
  • Blythe, M., Steane, J., Roe, J., & Oliver, C. (2015, April). Solutionism, the Game: Design Fictions for Positive Aging. In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 3849-3858). ACM.
  • Huyghe, J., Wouters, N., Geerts, D., & Vande Moere, A. (2014, April). LocaLudo: card-based workshop for interactive architecture. In CHI’14 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1975-1980). ACM.
  • Kultima, A., Niemelä, J., Paavilainen, J., & Saarenpää, H. (2008, November). Designing game idea generation games. In Proceedings of the 2008 conference on future play: Research, play, share (pp. 137-144). ACM.
  • B. Maurer, A. Baumgartner, I. Aslan, A. Meschtscherjakov, D. Wilfinger, M. Murer, and M. Tscheligi, “CarTeam: The car as a collaborative tangible game controller,” in Adjunct Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction, 2014.
  • Slegers, K., Ruelens, S., Vissers, J., & Duysburgh, P. (2015, April). Using Game Principles in UX Research: A Board Game for Eliciting Future User Needs. In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1225-1228). ACM.

This workshop aims to further explore the possibilities of integrating game design elements in HCI research, and how such elements can become part of the different phases of HCI research. Several overviews of game elements are currently available, but it remains unclear how exactly these can be of value for HCI researchers wishing to include such elements in their research. Existing overviews of game elements such as the ones listed below will be used as a starting point for this workshops, and we encourage participants to have a look at the elements to find inspiration for their submissions as well: