Urban Play and the Playable City: A Critical Perspective
Frontiers in Computer Science – Research Topic

Call for Submissions

As our planned workshop at DIGRA 2020 was cancelled due to concerns over the corona virus we have arranged for the publication of an open access special topic in the journal Frontiers in Computer Science on the theme of the workshop and are now renewing the call for submissions to additional authors.

For further information and submission instructions see:

About this Research Topic
Cities by their very nature are utilitarian creations built to support the needs and/or represent the image of the communities that build them.  However, the nature of the urban environment is such that it invites play in both its construction (architecture) and the interactions that take place within its confines.  Thus, in addition to opportunities for structured and unstructured play offered by the playgrounds, ball courts, and game boards constructed by municipalities, a host of games and playful activities that repurpose or harness the city infrastructure for play have emerged.  These range from games such as hide and seek or tag that harness the physical features of the immediate surroundings of the players either with the incorporation of interactive technology such as Picooor without, through games such as Multiplayer Sobathat build on the concept of a treasure hunt to challenge players to engage and interact with the local community in a particular area of a city to games such as Pokémon Goand The Walking Dead: Our World that use the entire city as their playground.

Recently the notion of the playable city has emerged as a counterpoint to the “smart city” where by the array of sensors and actuators that enable smart city infrastructure can be harnessed to create novel interactions and playful experiences within the city by lending an ear to trees, giving a voice to park benches, stairs and garbage cans or reviving the shadows that pass in the night thereby enabling a host of new interactions and experiences and raising new challenges and concerns about distraction and duplicity.

Building on three previous workshops that focused specifically on the notion of the playable city and that were held as part of Intetain 2016, Intetain 2017 and ArtsIT 2018, in this workshop we wish to expand the scope of the inquiry and compare and contrast the notions of urban play and the playable city while exploring current innovations and the future potential of the ideas and technologies involved.  To this end we seek to invite practitioners and researchers to submit position papers which will serve as the basis for further discussion and analysis with the aim of publishing a collection of papers in an edited volume or a special issue of a Journal as a means of furthering the discussion and fostering a long-term relationship between the participants.  Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
•     Play in the city – reimagining the playground and the notion of urban play
•     Play with (and hack into) the city – incorporating play and playfulness into the very fabric of the (smart) city
•     Play for the city – using play and gamification to address urban issues from infrastructure maintenance to social and environmental issues
•     Are we playing with the city or being played with? Critical perspectives on the notion of the playable city
•     Wearable technology and the (smart) city
•     The autonomous vehicle as a mobile playground or an urban plaything
•     Interactive street art, augmented storytelling and other forms of urban “play”

Important Dates
Manuscript Deadline: 30 August 2020

Anton Nijholt, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands
Yoram Chisik, Independent Scholar, Haifa, Israel
Ben Schouten, TU Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Mattia Thibault, University of Tampere, Finland

For further information see:

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