2019 Workgroup Topic Proposals

Games and the Internet of Things

After a long period of convergent evolution in game interfaces, the introduction of the Wii and the iPhone in quick succession sparked a cambrian explosion in game interfaces that’s continued over the last dozen or so years, in touchscreens, accelerometers, motion tracking, VR, AR — not to mention the rich ecosystem of unique sculptural interfaces like those you see in alt.ctrl exhibits. 

One of the next next big things (depending on where we are in the hype cycle) for game HCI might lie in the internet-connected devices that are rapidly piling up around us: wearables like fitness trackers and watches, smart home appliances, security systems, etc.

But the ways in which we integrate IoT systems into games will be different than with other interfaces. Smart home devices like lights and thermostats are designed to work ambiently in the background, not as direct controls in a typical gameplay setting; devices might not be in the same location that the player is in, or they might be tucked away in their pocket. 

I’d like to map out the opportunities, pitfalls, and potential new design spaces that arise as games become increasingly wired into an extended network of physical interfaces. This is an area with lots of potential (and risk!) to upend our known patterns of interaction between player and game.