Informatics Seminar Series
Winter Quarter 2020

Friday, January 31, 2020

“Playful Social Engineering: Technology for Being Together”

Katherine Isbister
Professor, Department of Computational Media
UC Santa Cruz

Being together has always been a powerful motivation for the creation and enjoyment of games. In a world that increasingly blends and blurs the digital and the physical, how do we build play experiences that support rich and meaningful connection, rather than fragmenting, alienating, and isolating us? Katherine Isbister’s research group is known for building technology prototypes that explore and also shape the future of social play. In this talk, she will use recent technical prototypes her group has built to reflect on the question of what it means to engage in playful social engineering. Examples include custom-built wearables for live action role play, experiments in social VR, and biometrics as a communication channel in live streaming of gameplay. The audience should leave this talk with a broader sense of the future possibility space for social play, and points for discussion about the role technology may take in better supporting playing (and being) together.

Katherine Isbister is a full professor in the University of California, Santa Cruz's Department of Computational Media, where she directs the Social Emotional Technology Lab, and the Center for Computational Experience. She has a Research through Design practice at the intersection of Human Computer Interaction and Games, focused on interactive experiences that heighten social and emotional connections. She is the author of more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, and has shown games at IndieCade (Yamove! and SceneSampler). Her most recent book from MIT Press is How Games Move Us: Emotion by Design, winner of an American Library Association award. Isbister is a Founding Fellow of the Higher Education Video Games Alliance, a recipient of MIT Technology Review's Young Innovator Award, and is an ACM Distinguished Scientist..

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