Playgrounds tend to be constructed from simple, robust technologies, and yet through careful design, and by drawing on many decades of experience, they can be incredibly effective at supporting social and physical interaction between children.
Drawing on the proceedings of a workshop attended by experts in play and playground design, an analysis will be presented which attempts to identify key factors in the success of playgrounds, and which is structured as six key themes: danger and fear, control, re-appropriation, skill, throughput and spectatorship and performance.
This analysis will then be related to existing research and design work into interactive systems intended to support physical and social and interaction, and will be illustrated with reference to Breathless, a playful experience for adults which is constructed around a giant rope swing suspended in a gallery space, whose design was influenced by the concepts listed above.
An analysis of interview material collected during Breathless has provided further insight into the challenges inherent in designing interactive systems around these concepts, and the seminar will conclude with a discussion of these challenges. Important issues include accounting for individual differences, negotiating trade-offs between concepts and inclusive design. Future directions for research in relation to these challenges will be briefly discussed.