Designing a sonic interactive open-ended playground installation
Sammanfattning: The application of digital elements to traditional playgrounds can enhance children’s outdoor play and counteract the growing trend of sedentary activities. This work reports the implementation and evaluation of a playground installation which looks at sound as the modality that can provide new and engaging play experiences. The design of this system follows an open-ended approach that let the children create their own emerging game goals and rules. The sound design is first tested in a lab setting and later on in a Swedish preschool, with a particular focus on the stages of play (invitation, exploration, and immersion). 38 children between 2 and 6 years old participated in a field study that lasted for three days. Children’s engagement over time was quantified and field notes were taken during the whole evaluation. None of the children between 2 and 3 years old reached the immersion stage. On the other hand, children between 4 and 6 years old created their own rules showing parallel and collaborative play and, in some occasions, solitary play. The sound modality chosen proved to be effective to encourage children’s play in a first place. In a longer engagement perspective, the soundscape partly supported an immersive play. The selection of the sounds to be integrated in the system demonstrated to be as fundamental as the physical appearance of the playground installation. The results of this study show how the visual and auditory modalities can be effective in an open-ended interactive playground and report the limitations of this design.
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