Online Games for Meaningful Social Interaction in Public Spaces

Creating social inclusion – i.e. to give people a feeling of belonging, to help them value diversity and to confront xenophobia, racism, and violent extremism – is a challenge that today’s society is faced with.  The Municipalities of Rotterdam and The Hague address this challenge to achieve social resilience. As collective activities are relevant for the maintenance and promotion of social cohesion, this proposal focuses on the design of such activities - initially within and together with the Municipality of Rotterdam, followed by a comparable setting in the Municipality of The Hague.

To foster collective activities this research project will design online games for meaningful social interaction in public spaces. Multi-player online games are, by nature, collective activities. “Games as social play” are games designed for individual gaming experience plus social experiences – a means to design for engagement in social interaction. As such, this research project will address the following main question:

“Can multi-player online games be designed for meaningful social interaction in public spaces?”

This research proposal will, in a first step, study several types of requirements that such games in public spaces need to meet in order to have a positive social impact. While continuously refining stakeholder requirements, technical requirements and other design requirements, the following step consists of designing and evaluating a multi-player online game designed to meet these requirements.

After collecting data from the usage of the game system, this research will analyse the performance of the created multi-player online game(s) and identify best practices that really support engagement and meaningful social interaction in public spaces.

The tentative outcomes of this research are therefore:

  1. a list of essential needs and requirements to be taken into account while developing game systems for engagement and meaningful social interaction in public spaces,
  2. a conceptual frame for system design, including game elements which best support engagement and meaningful social interaction in public spaces,
  3. a system design that fulfils those requirements.

Promoter: Frances Brazier
Daily Supervisor: Stephan Lukosch

About Francisco Xavier Fonseca

Xavier Fonseca is a researcher and PhD candidate at Delft University of Technology. His current research covers serious game design for social impact in several problematic neighbourhoods of the Netherlands. Previously, he did research on high-performance computing (in medical applications), and embedded software in the Internet of Things. His professional experience abroad covers Portugal, India, Germany and the Netherlands, as a result of which he has an extensive professional network.