Dispensable, Tweakable, and Tangible Components: Supporting Socially negotiated Gameplay

Gifford Cheung, Alison Lee, Kevin Cheng and Hae Jin Lee

NOTE: This paper was selected by the program committee as a Meaningful Play 2008 Top Paper. It has been submitted to the Meaningful Play 2012 Special Issue of the Journal of Games and Culture. Due to the copyright requirements of the journal, only the abstract is available in the conference proceedings.


Our paper examines a flexible approach to designing general game components inspired by traditional game components. Our goal is to design digital game systems that offer the players greater choice in dictating the rules, pacing, and sociability of a game session - we describe this as supporting socially negotiated gameplay. We employ five design principles to meet this goal: dispensability, live-tweakability, tangibility, mobility, and value. Our work demonstrates this approach with the design of an augmented playing card system composed of playing cards outfitted with NFC chips and a mobile device with three digital game components: a Card Viewer, a Score Board, and a Turn Keeper. We report on initial user sessions and articulate two emerging challenges for supporting socially negotiated play: (a) solving the interaction costs to enable greater flexibility and (b) managing user expectations for the automatic part of a manual-automatic system.