Evoking Play in Public Space – Flowchart

Posted on 04/04/2012

In my quest for evoking play in public space I've come up with the following flowchart. It's divided into three different phases, ranging from tickling the curiosity of a non-suspecting onlooker, to engaging a player to the extent of entering a 'playful state'. Let's take a closer look at each step. In public space everything and everyone is part of the ludic activity, whether you want it or not. Even if an onlooker is unaware of anything 'out-of-the-ordinary' happening, he can still have an influence on the ludic activity, hence the name unaware participant. To be involved in the ludic activity an unaware participant must become an ambiguous participant² , this is the exciting phase of triggering an audience to investigate 'what the hell is going on here'. This makes curiosity the driving force in this phase. This curiosity phase reaches a threshold when a participants recognises the activity as being ludic of nater, e.g. the audience 'understands' what's going on. When this happens the audience will enter the motivation phase, reaching a threshold when a participan realises, 'this looks cool, I want to join in'. This is when the participant needs to be lured in by being offered in invitation. When the participant accepts the invitation, thus becoming a player, he will be engaged in playful behaviour. When engaged in ludic activity a player will get more and more immersed in the playful behaviour, to the extreme of being totally immersed in the activity, which I’d like to call the ‘playful state’. See my previous post on this. (click on the image to enlarge)

This model can serve as a flowchart for designing and analysing (ludic) interventions in public space.

²I borrowed this name from the great book on pervasive gamese, see: Markus Montola, Jaakko Stenros, Annika Wærn (2009) Pervasive games: theory and design. Morgan Kaufmann