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Familiars: manipulating social networks with mobile gaming

By Ben Kirman, Shaun Lawson, Duncan Rowland, Fabrizio Davide, Francesco Collovà and Stefano Puglia


This paper presents the mobile multiplayer gaming application Familiars. Familiars leverages social networking and locative technologies to create a reactive social experience for the game’s participants over extended periods of time. The game is based around the concept of each player owning a Familiar –a virtual sprite or creature somewhat similar in concept to Pullman’s dæmons - which has a visual appearance and a location in the real world. A player’s interactions with their own, and other players’, Familiars is used to directly inform the state of the game and status of the player – inviting them to become more aware of the impact of their social activity, and to discover novel strategies for becoming more socially effective in computer-mediated environments. We begin by explaining the design for the game and the unique challenges of the mobile medium as a platform for social gaming. We discuss the theoretical and technical background of the social and contextual analysis system used in the mobile mediated environment and go on to describe how this informed the implementation of the mobile and server applications that power the game. Finally we discuss the findings of the application test groups, lessons learnt during development and important design considerations for mediated mobile social gaming

Topics: G440 Human-computer Interaction
Year: 2008
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lincoln.ac.uk:2172

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