Kars Alfrink - Play in social and tangible interactions

11 May 2010 - 1:47am
2339 reads
Karl Herler


Many of the interactions seen in tangible and social computing are essentially playful. Play can take on many forms, but they all involve people exploring a conceptual space of possibilities. When designing these “embodied” interactions, it is therefore helpful to have a good understanding of play - this session aims to do just that.

We’ll compare the role of interaction designers to that of game designers, who concern themselves primarily with the creation of rule-sets. By using rules, designers have unique opportunities for conveying messages.

We’ll discuss the emergent behaviour of many social and tangible systems and propose that gardening might be a helpful metaphor. This requires designers to sketch in code and hardware, build prototypes, and observe their use “in the wild”.

Ultimately, we hope to encourage designers to put themselves on equal footing with the people using their systems, so that they can playfully grow meaningful interactions together.


About Kars Alfrink

In his freelance practice, Kars Alfrink straddles the line between interaction- and game design. He thinks play is a crucial characteristic of any meaningful user experience and pursues projects that help him test this belief. Kars has designed social web applications, casual mobile games and multi-touch systems.

Besides designing, Kars enjoys teaching at the Utrecht School of the Arts. Currently, he is coaching a group of graduate students who are developing innovative social games for a leading mobile phone manufacturer.

In his spare time, Kars practices a traditional Japanese martial art, and tries to keep up with geek culture.


Originally posted by Nasir Barday, 05.05.2009.

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