CHI PLAY 2015 is the second edition of the ACM SIGCHI Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play. It is an international and interdisciplinary conference for researchers and professionals of all areas of play, games, and human-computer interaction, which fosters discussion of current high quality research in games and HCI as foundations for the future of digital play. This year the conference took place in London, UK, from the 5th to the 7th of October.
Some participants, myself including, arrived a day early for the Workshops or the Doctoral Consortium that occurred on the day prior to the main conference. I took part of the Workshop on Personalization of Serious and Persuasive Games and Gamified Interactions. It was a great opportunity to discuss the implications of building generic serious games or gamified applications, a practice that usually leads to the exclusion of a portion of the intended audience, as not all individuals are motivated by the same kind of interactions. The participants discussed a number of models and strategies to facilitate the design of personalized or tailored experiences that will be more effective at engaging a larger number of users. A central point of the discussion was about the integration of player and user typologies, such as the BrainHex gamer typology and the HEXAD gamification user types, into the design of serious games and gamification.
The CHI PLAY 2015 Conference began officially on October 5th, with the Opening Keynote by Mark Barlet, Founder & Executive Director of Able Gamers, about the inclusion of disabled players into game design. The first technical section presented a few research papers on player experience and wellbeing. Two papers were specially interesting to me: The Placebo Effect in Digital Games: Phantom Perception of Adaptive Artificial Intelligence, by Alena Denisova and Paul Cairns from the University of Work, in which the authors investigated how the expectance of a game feature by players changes their perception and enjoyment of the game even if the feature is not really there; and How Self-Esteem Shapes our Interactions with Play Technologies, by Max Birk, Regan Mandryk, and Matthew Miller from the University of Saskatchewan, and Kathrin Gerling from the University of Lincoln, an important study of how different levels of self-esteem result in different gaming experiences. In the afternoon the Notes section took place, and I would like to highlight the conference’s Best Note, Manipulating Leaderboards to Induce Player Experience, by Jason Bowey, Max Birk, and Regan Mandryk from the University of Saskatchewan, which showed that manipulating success perception through leaderboards increases the player’s perception of competence, autonomy, presence, enjoyment, and positive affect over manipulated failure.
Mark Barlet’s opening keynote
In a conference about games, of course we needed to have some games to play! On Monday evening, there was a reception where the authors displayed their posters for their Works-In-Progress and the Doctoral Consortium. At the same time all the participants had the opportunity to play the 10 games that were selected as finalists of the Student Game Design Competition (SGDC). My team from the HCI Games Group presented the game CHI PLAYGUE: A Networking Game of Emergent Sociality, which aimed to facilitate social interaction and networking between the conference’s attendees.
CHI PLAYGUE at the SGDC
The second day began with an inspiring keynote by Yvonne Rogers, Professor of Interaction Design, Director of UCL Interaction Centre, Fellow of the British Computer Society and the ACM’s CHI Academy, about Playful Interactions in Public, which provided a number of ideas on the design of tangible and physical interfaces in a playful way to truly engage people in a public domain. From this day’s technical sections, a paper that I found very interesting was “After All the Time I Put Into This”: Co-Creation and the End-of-life of Social Network Games, by Alexandra Samper-Martinez and Ercilia Garcia-Alvarez from University Rovira i Virgili, and Kathrin Gerling, Ben J Kirman, and Shaun Lawson from the University of Lincoln, in which the authors studied what happens when a social network game ends, and the conflicts that may arise when the company claims ownership over the content created by the users, while the users feel that they have rights to keep everything that they built with a great effort.
The last day began with an interesting, albeit short, presentation by Kam Star from PlayGen, entitled Gamification, the elixir of performance? The speaker presented a few interesting insights about what to do and what not to do when designing gamified interactions, from his years of experience in important gamification projects. From the technical sessions of this day, the highlight goes to the Best Paper of the conference, Increasing Donating Behavior Through a Game for Change: The Role of Interactivity and Appreciation, by Sharon Steinemann, Elisa Mekler, and Klaus Opwis from the University of Basel, which showed the importance of interactivity for the effectiveness of games for change aimed at increasing donation for an humanitarian cause, and the role of appreciation as mediator of the relationship between interaction and donating, hinting at its relevance for the evaluation of the effectiveness of games for change. The closing keynote, Putting Humans Back Into Games, by Jo Twist from UK Interactive Entertainment, inspired everyone to think about the role of games and play to culture and the wellbeing of the human society.
Sharon Steinemann presenting the conference’s Best Paper: Increasing Donating Behavior Through a Game for Change: The Role of Interactivity and Appreciation
Before the very end, the results of the Student Game Design Competition were announced, and the great winner took both the prizes from the Expert Panel and the General Public: “Beam Me ‘Round, Scotty!” by John Harris, Mark Hancock, and Stacey Scott from the University of Waterloo. Congratulations!
“Beam Me ‘Round, Scotty!”: the great winner of the SGDC
The official conference program can be visited here, and all the publications are available through the ACM Digital Library here. At last, the next CHI PLAY was announced to occur in 2016 in Texas, USA. Howdy!
CHI PLAY 2016 announcement: Texas, we are coming!