Why a Centre for Playware?

Over the past decades digital technology has contributed to a fundamental change in our culture and everyday lives. Play, entertainment and events are among those areas that have attracted the least attention while at the same time being the most heavily influenced. Recently, they have been added to both social and research agendas as items of the “experience economy”. The cross-disciplinary research centre, Centre for Playware, can be regarded as a part of this move towards an actualisation of play and entertainment as important areas of research and commercial development.

Creating playful experiences

The specific aim of the centre is to consolidate and expand a new, self-contained field of research and industrial enterprise, which will combine humanistic and technological research under the name “playware”, defined as follows: “[the] use of technology to create the kind of leisure activities we normally label play, i.e. intelligent hardware and software that aims at producing play and playful experiences among users and of which e.g. computer games are a sub-genre” (Lund & Jessen 2005a). 

Hence, the Centre for Playware will create practical developments of playware for the experience economy through developments of playful experiences amongst users of digital technologies inspired by robotics. The working hypothesis is that by combining knowledge about diverse user groups and their culture with recent technological developments in modern AI robotics, it becomes possible to create playful experiences, which motivates specific activities amongst the users. 

Combining knowledge and technology

While playware holds considerable potential for the development of a prosperous industry in the future, the precondition is a successful combination of knowledge about play, learning, and user experience with knowledge about the technology applicable to potential products. The aim of the centre is to establish a theoretical scientific basis for playware, thus developing knowledge that is capable of translation into practice, which will form the basis for future product development. 

The synergies of a physical centre The centre brings together leading researchers in the areas of play culture, play studies, modern artificial intelligence, ambient intelligence and robotics. At the same time the centre collaborates closely with industry, both existing larger companies and small start-up companies. The basic idea behind the centre is to bring researchers together in a physical centre situated at Department of Electrical Engineering to assure cross-disciplinary synergy.