Let's Play: Exploring Interface Design Challenges of Digital Tabletops using Games

Stacey D. Scott

Digital tabletop surface computers provide face-to-face groups an opportunity to access and share complex, dynamically updated data in a manner not previously possible. However, their large display format and horizontal orientation introduce a number of design challenges. Tabletop games, such as card and board games, provide a useful context in which to explore potential interface and interaction design solutions for this computing platform. They can require the use of complex data sets (e.g., historical war games), the use of dynamically updated data (e.g., simulation games), the use of private data (e.g., competitive card games), or collaborative analysis and decision-making (e.g., cooperative board games). They are also fun and engaging to play. The latter point addresses a long-standing research challenge when evaluating new interface design solutions: motivating and thoroughly engaging participants of user studies to the point that they exhibit natural behaviour during laboratory-based studies. Games are intrinsically motivating and immerse study participants in their task, helping to elicit fairly natural interaction behaviour. This talk will present ongoing projects from Dr. Scott's Collaborative Systems Laboratory (http://csl.uwaterloo.ca) related to interface and interaction design research set in the context of digital tabletop gaming. These projects include digital tabletop conversions of several commercially available games, such as the Pandemic cooperative board game (Z-Man Games) and the Dominion empire-building card game (Rio Grande Games).

Speaker Biography

Dr. Stacey Scott is an Assistant Professor of Systems Design Engineering and English Language and Literature and is the Associate Director of the Games Institute at the University of Waterloo. She holds a B.Sc. in Computing Science and Mathematics from Dalhousie University (1997), a Ph.D in Computer Science from the University of Calgary (2005), and she completed postdoctoral studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (2005-2007). Her research interests primarily focus on the design of large-screen surface computing systems, such as interactive walls and tables that support collaboration and socialization in real-world task domains, such as military command and control, emergency response, and gaming. In general, her research interests include computer-supported collaboration, surface computing, interface and interaction design, and information visualization.