Using an RFID game to phenomenologically test a theoretical systemic model for describing ambient games
Conference of the Digital Games Research Association
Imagine what Brian Eno's genre defining 1978 album Music for Airports (Eno, 1978 ) would be if it were a game. The game might produce a mood in an environment; the player able to dip in and out of play, which could be facilitated by not having to carry gaming devices, allowing periods of disengagement from the game. The player's everyday actions would generate data to move the game forward, causing game events. However, it should also be possible for the player to change their behaviour in
... to participate more actively in the game, varying their involvement with the game from intense engagement to forgetting they are even playing. The proposed game would span both real and virtual worlds, with player actions in the real world affecting events in the virtual world. We have named this imagined game genre 'ambient games' (M. Eyles & Eglin, 2007a) . Ambient games may be considered a type of pervasive game ('a radically new game form that extends gaming experiences out into the physical world' (Waern, 2006) ) in which the game is embedded in the environment and the player may not need to carry digital equipment around with them and, crucially, can continue to actively play while ignoring the game. This paper proposes a systemic domain (Eglin, Eyles, & Dansey, 2007) theoretical model for understanding the underlying properties of ambient games, comparing and contrasting them with computer and video games. The theoretical models of both computer and video games and ambient games are used to generate player activity gameflow diagrams, in which the progress a player makes through the domains in the systemic models while playing a game are clearly shown. A game design research methodology (M. Eyles, Eglin, R., 2008) is used to investigate the ambient game systemic domain model and player activity gameflows. Ambient games, using RFID technology and pedometers, allow players to experience a game in which they are able to vary their involvement while engaged in other everyday activities. In order to discover the lived experience of players of ambient games existential phenomenological methods and in particular template analysis (King, 2008) are used. Studies and observations are described in which ambient games are used within the overarching game design research methodological framework.