Game Design in an Internet of Things

Paul Coulton, Dan Burnett, Adrian Gradinar, David Gullick, Emma Murphy


Whilst no consensus yet exists on how the Internet of Things will be realised, a global infrastructure of networked physical objects that are readable, recognizable, locatable, addressable and controllable is undoubtedly a compelling vision. Although many implementations of the Internet of Things have presented these objects in a largely ambient sensing role, or providing some form of remote access/control, in this paper we consider the emerging convergence between games and the Internet of Things. This can be seen in a growing number of games that use objects as physical game pieces to enhance the players’ interaction with virtual games. These hybrid physical/digital objects present game designers with number of interesting challenges as they i) blur the boundaries between toys and games; ii) provide opportunities for freeform physical play outside the virtual game; and iii) create new requirements for interaction design, in that they utilise design techniques from both product design and computer interface design. Whilst in the past the manufacturing costs of such game objects would preclude their use within games from small independent games developers, the advent of low cost 3D printing and open software and hardware platforms, which are the enablers of the Internet of Things, means this is no longer the case. However, in order to maximise this opportunity game designers will need to develop new approaches to the design of their games and in this paper we highlight the design sensibilities required if they are to combine the digital and physical affordances within the design of such objects to produce good player experiences.


Games, Internet of Things, Interaction Design, Phygital, Affordances

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