Sunday, 2 November 2014

Around the Table

Part of a series exploring Pervasive Play - see the other posts in the series
“Preserve the rich social interaction of traditional board games, while adding the power of technology" (Li, 2007)
This social aspect to tabletop games, opens direct interaction and connections between players, which is becoming increasingly rare as we rely more and more on devices to make connections virtually.

Figure 9. A touch sensitive table surface displaying the KnightMage game board.

There are examples of pervasive tabletop games such as KnightMage where the playing board is a digital display but retains tactile playing pieces (see fig. 9). The display acts as the board much like a classic board game, but it is enhanced with an interactive and navigable world, unrestricted by what is dictated in a printed, static board.

An example in the previous post, Brainball (2003) is also a tabletop game, showing that there can be interesting crossover to create new themes.

Noisy Jelly
Fig. 10. Noisy Jelly (2012)
Fig. 11. Noisy Jelly (2012)
Fig. 12. Noisy Jelly (2012)

Noisy Jelly (2012, see fig. 10) by Marianne Cauvard and Raphaël Pluvinage does not rely on a digital display to enrich the play experience, but still requires touch and technology.

The players are instructed to cook and prepare the jelly in the moulds provided (see fig. 11). When the jelly sets it looks and feels like normal jelly. It is even edible as demonstrated by Pluvinage in the presentation at TEDxTalks (2012). However, what has actually been prepared, is not dessert, but a tactile musical play material. By placing the jelly on the conductive game board then touching (see fig. 12), the player activates different tones of sound and instruments. The colour and strength of the mixture, as well as location of touch can alter the sound output.

NOISY JELLY from Raphaël Pluvinage on Vimeo.

The artists research observed the strange growing layer of technology and devices in our lives, questioning and comparing the cold, hard tactile and visual aesthetics of a device to dynamic, textured aesthetics of food as inspiration to make an interface, in a search for a new electronic aesthetic.

Cauvard and Pluvinage have created something which evokes senses which are not always associated with play. It takes play into unknown territories, seeing technology and food in a different way.

This looks like an incredibly pleasing way to interact with an interface, much of our touch interaction with technology consists of illuminated screens behind glass or plastic, meaning we can never really know what it is like to touch and feel something. It brings so much excitement that our future of touch devices are more playful and tactile.

Jelly will melt and break during play, instead of becoming unusable it actually creates more possibilities to make new sounds, expanding the play. When the jelly is no longer usable, the player only has to cook more to start play again.

The number one rule for Noisy Jelly is to play with your food, questioning dinner table etiquette, a ruleset which is part of our everyday lives - perhaps this plays with the idea that our lives are actually no more than a big game, with rules and activities which we have formed into a routine and careers.

Read more at Part VII – Big Games

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

Li, K. , Counts, S. (2007) Exploring Social Interactions and Attributes of Casual Multiplayer Mobile Gaming. Proceedings of the 4th international conference on mobile technology, applications, and systems and the 1st international symposium on Computer human interaction in mobile technology, September 10-12, 2007, Singapore. Available from: [Accessed 26 April 2014].

TEDxTalks. (2012) Noisy Jelly: Marianne Cauvard & Raphael Pluvinage at TEDxHanzeUniversity, [online]. HanzeUniversity (Groningen, NL): Available from: [Accessed 20 Mar 2014].

Figure 9. KnightMage A touch sensitive table surface displaying the KnightMage game board. [Photograph] In: Magerkurth, C.; Engelke, T. ; Memisoglu, M. Augmenting the virtual domain with physical and social elements. In: Proceedings of the International Conference on Advancements in Computer Entertainment Technology (Singapore, June 3–5, 2004). ACM Press, NY, p. 170.

Figure 10. Huyghe, V. (2012) Noisy Jelly [Photograph] At: (Accessed on 29 April 2014).

Figure 11. Huyghe, V. (2012) Noisy Jelly [Photograph] At: (Accessed on 29 April 2014).

Figure 12. Huyghe, V. (2012) Noisy Jelly [Photograph] At: (Accessed on 29 April 2014).