W.A.I.T. (We Are Interactive Tiles) is the first of four exam projects in the course Play Design, which was part of my masters programme. In this project, we were tasked with creating a playful service or redesign an existing one to become more playful. On that ground, we worked with the following research question:
How can we facilitate playful behaviour in a public space of waiting?
The theoretical framework for this project was founded in play theory, more specifically play as a form of expression in a cultural perspective. In practice, we relied just as much on design theory such as Norman, Dourish & Schön. On the base of an understanding of what play is, why it matters for people and how we can use play as parts of interactive designs, we explored the potential of integrating play outside a traditional context such as games.
W.A.I.T. is an interactive installation, which, because of time limits, was executed with the Wizard of Oz Technique. It imitates audio feedback whenever someone steps on one of four plates, strategically placed in a waiting area, in this case an elevator. This is a presentation of the concept, which we made for the project. Since the goal was to explore how we can redesign everyday routines, tasks or other aspects of life in a more playful manner, it did not actually matter, whether the installation was operational or, as in this case, simply staged.
What we learned from this project, was surrounded on design of interactive installations, context and playfulness. Thus, when designing interactive artifacts, this project showed clearly, that understanding the context is of immense importance. In this case it is, for example, important to notice that we made an installation for a public space and a more settled way “waiting for an elevator”. People simply might not want- or feel comfortable with expressing themself with playful behavior here. Further, this also shows that play is a very subjective thing. One cannot design something playful for everyone, and there will always be different reactions – which is a good thing, I believe. There is not any toy in the world either – or other design for that matter – which suits everyone. Lastly, making interactive installations – especially playful ones – is challenging in terms of how strict or guided, the design should be. Since play is open and individual, the designer has to think about balancing the right amount of e.g. signifiers and guides, because too many will be too constraining and take some of the wonderful freedom of interpretation out the design. On the other hand, too little design, which we had initially will mean that people might be too uncomfortable and unsecure about the whole thing (notice the (lack of) footsteps on some of the pictures and in the movie).
It’s all about balancing the design, which, I guess, is what makes the difference between good designers and excellent ones.
For more information, videos and pictures on the project, feel free to contact me.