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Expanding social mobile games beyond the device screen

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Emerging pervasive games use sensors, graphics and networking technologies to provide immersive game experiences integrated with the real world. Existing pervasive games commonly rely on a device screen for providing game-related information, while overlooking opportunities to include new types of contextual interactions like jumping, a punching gesture, or even voice to be used as game inputs. We present the design of Spellbound, a physical mobile team-based game, to help contribute to our understanding of how we can design pervasive games that aim to nurture a spirit of togetherness. We also briefly touch upon how togetherness and playfulness can transform physical movement into a desirable activity in the user evaluation section. Spellbound is an outdoor pervasive team-based physical game. It takes advantage of the above-mentioned opportunities and integrates real-world actions like jumping and spinning with a virtual world. It also replaces touch-based input with voice interaction and provides glanceable and haptic feedback using custom hardware in the true spirit of social play characteristic of traditional children’s games. We believe Spellbound is a form of digital outdoor gaming that anchors enjoyment on physical action, social interaction, and tangible feedback. Spellbound was well received in user evaluation playtests which confirmed that the main design objective of enhancing a sense of togetherness was largely met.

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We would like to thank Skyler Adams for help with the hardware, all the players for their feedback, as well as Leo Burd and Josh Sheldon at the MIT Center for Mobile Learning for lending us six Android smartphones without which playtesting and evaluating Spellbound would not have been possible.

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Correspondence to Misha Sra.

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Sra, M., Schmandt, C. Expanding social mobile games beyond the device screen. Pers Ubiquit Comput 19, 495–508 (2015).

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