Backseat Playground

Backseat Playground

Future mobile technology will provide more services that exploit the benefits of mobile life. Today and in the foreseeable future, travelling by car is for many families an important part of their mobile life. It is a largely mundane activity involving daily commuting, trips to the weekend house or longer journeys when going on vacation. Children travelling in the car often engage in different means of amusement in order to pass the time. They might read, talk or play mobile games. But current mobile games are often portable versions of classic computer games where the focus is on the interface and screen. Thus, gaming becomes a complete alternative that does not draw on the positive aspects of being on the road. This form of traditional computer game rather obscures the highway experience, than exploiting the journey for fun, exploration, play and creativity.

The possibility of incorporating different aspects of mobility to create immersive experiences is therefore still a promise not yet realised.

Our hypothesis is that a game could be particularly engaging, if it is aware of the vivid and dynamic mobile context. Travelling along a road means a continuous flow of impressions and new situations where changing scenes, sense of motion and contingent encounters provide for a very special experience. It can be seen as a sequential experience, resembling a dramatic play of space and motion, also called i.e.: the highway experience. We suggest that it is possible to engage kids in the journey instead of just focusing on a screen and that the travel experience could be turned into a fun and meaningful activity that is related to the places that are visited along the road.

Project goals

• To research, build and evaluate a stand alone prototype for a back seat game

• To develop a scalable framework so the game can be implemented on vast road networks - initially in the Stockholm region and in the UK

• To explore designing technologies for interactive episodic storytelling

• To explore designing technologies for a 'real world' embedded game engine.

• Use technologies to enrich the time people spend in the back seat of a car, or travelling on the roads by other means

• Use technologies to support learning of geography, local history and computing in a fun and playful way