Wednesday, 29 October 2014

What is Pervasive Play?

Part of a series exploring Pervasive Play - see the other posts in the series

The traditional definition of play:
"Summing up the formal characteristics of play we might call it a free activity standing quite consciously outside ‘ordinary’ life as being ‘not serious,’ but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly." (Huizinga, 1955, p.13)
Some examples of traditional play; toys, imaginary games, playground games (chase games such as tag), sports (such as football), board games, screen based computer games. The important aspect is something which is done for entertainment or fun.

Pervasive play is an activity, such as a game, where the experience is outwith, or breaks down some of the current boundaries of the traditional definition of play. This may question and change any aspect of the who, what, why, when, where and how play takes place.

When traditional play is an escape from the world, pervasive play wants us to utilise and see our world in a different way, using the elements which are already integrated into our lives and allow that be part of play, entertainment and fun.
". . . a gaming experience that changes according to where they are, what they are doing, and even how they are feeling." (Benford, 2005, p. 54)
Locations, actions, emotions and objects all feed into a pervasive game by harnessing new developments in technology. Digital devices and sensors act as an input to the game which can analyse and reflect back during gameplay to enrich the gameplay experience in different ways.

Read more at Part III – The New Aesthetic

Part of a series exploring Pervasive Play - see the other posts in the series


Benford, S., Magerkurth, C. and Ljungstrand, P. (2005) Bridging the physical and digital in pervasive gaming. Communications of the ACM. 48 (3), pp.54-57. Available from: [Accessed 29 March 2014].

Huizinga, J. (1955) Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture. Boston: Beacon Press.

No comments:

Post a Comment