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Designing For New [Playful] Experiences

Nick Currie’s offerings from his sabbatical in Japan could be read as postmodern artefacts from a psychiatric institution.  There’s genius there but unconventional, mad-as-eggs genius.  His movie of people making noises for 5 seconds is a weird, strangely compelling thing.   

Link: 5 second human noises movie [8.9 mb]

So this got me thinking.  Getting people to do things they would not ordinarily do can be fun.  The sum of these individual acts can also add up to far more than its parts:  it forms a social narative which could possibly be the basis for a network experience.  Could you apply the same principle to  product and service design?   In other words could you actively seek to generate new experiences by proactively asking/commanding rather than be reactive and designing to some individual ‘agency’ for  rational, goal orientated behaviour?   [Now you may not agree, but agency is, I believe a network effect rather than a conscious pre-existing  ‘I’].   Sometimes people don’t know what they want.  Sometimes they’re open to being told to do things, not in an invasive direct marketing sense but as a participatory exercise which could be productive and fun.   

There are loads of examples of designing for new experiences already – it’s not new: flashmobs; participatory theatre; many platform and board games titles.   Harnessing people’s capacity to do as they’re told, rather than reacting to their commands could be a fun approach to designing new services. One simple example could be to create a flickr group that took images to command [certain time, certain place everyday…].  There’s probably one already… 

see also:
Tim Etchell’s Surrender Control Project
Fiona Romeo’s post on having fun quoting Pullman[which leads to many thoughts – one of which is why can’t we try and create the kind of pre-conscious child-like lost-in-yourself  ‘play’ for adults? Because adults are far too ‘socialised’ and conscious of their behaviour …?  ‘Role playing’ often helps to produce this sort of uninhibited ‘play’ and that is often command based.]
Creating playful users