In a virtual space, play can happen in an endless amount of ways. It is up to designers of the space to make the rules and set its limits. But what if the virtual space was designed with the focus of players themselves deciding what to do? A virtual place that provides the best tools for the players to entertain themselves; a place tailored to let you play exactly as you like. It definitely seems intriguing.
Due to a popularity of video games with a focus on a mix of extrinsic and intrinsic
motivation, the curiosity of how a virtual space purely focused on intrinsic motivation
could be designed, arose. This virtual space is denoted as a virtual playground, and
the aim of this project was to define it and establish a framework of design heuristic for
designing it. By dividing the focus of the project into four categories: play, space, toys
and interaction, knowledge about relevant theory was gathered and reviewed. This laid a foundation of knowledge to establish new theory on the subjects, while producing a first iteration of design heuristics. A definition of a virtual playground was developed and an analysis of six games containing both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations was performed. This analysis was, apart from gaining new knowledge on designing for intrinsic motivation, used to revise the design heuristics. Finally these design heuristics was used to develop a prototype of a virtual playground, to further revise and showcase the heuristics in a development process.
The concept for the prototype is set in a spaceship flying on a journey towards Mars in
real-time (appx. 200 days based on earlier missions). The player is controlling an astronaut which is stuck in the spaceship. The player cannot make the spaceship fly any faster to get the Mars, but is able to do as they like within the limits of the spaceship’s environment. The spaceship will hold a multitude of different toys, some taken the inspiration from spaceship interior, for the player to play with. This makes the trip an open-ended play session, set in what has been defined as a virtual playground.
Master thesis project: Adam Ryde Ankarfeldt, Nikolaj Schildt Christensen, Rasmus Emil Odgaard
Supervisor: Miguel Sicart
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Adam Ryde Ankarfeldt