ACM - Computers in Entertainment

Design space of networked exertion games demonstrated by a three-way physical game based on Table Tennis

By Florian (“Floyd”) Mueller, Martin Gibbs, Frank Vetere, Stefan Agamanolis
SPECIAL ISSUE: Media Arts, [Vol. 6, No. 3]

DOI: 10.1145/1394021.1394029

Physical leisure games can be beneficial to physical as well as mental health and offer a means to connect with others socially. However, players have to be in the same physical location to play. Recent trends in the gaming industry and research labs have started to embrace exertion games: physical games that are expected to be exhausting because they require intense physical effort. However, there is still a lack of a design space that can guide in evaluating such exertion games, help designers in creating future games by maximizing their potential, and inspire new directions in this domain. We present such a design space for exertion games, based on the characteristics of traditional physical games but extended to support distributed interactions. Our motivation is based on the belief that the physicality found in traditional leisure games contributes to facilitating social bonds. We used this design space to develop a networked table tennis-like game called “Table Tennis for Three.” It is played with a real paddle and ball and augmented with a large-scale video-conference. Our prototype shows how the application of the design space can leverage the potential for novel exertion gaming experiences such as supporting three players in three geographically distant locations. An evaluation with 41 participants indicated a successful application of some of the ingredients of the networked exertion games “cocktail”; however, some participants did not enjoy the game, and we present informed interpretations to explain their reactions. With this work we aim to provide other researchers and designers with a practical design space of the main components that can create a networked exertion game, and hence inspire and guide them in designing and evaluating future networked exertion games.

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