From my research in a few bars I have noticed a propensity of younger people to use their smart phones and other devices as a means to avoid social contact. In many cases these people would be with a large group of friends in a social space, once their conversations have come to an awkward halt, there was an overwhelming amount of people that would pick up their mobile devices as a means to avoid the silence. Initially I thought that the problem in this situation could be resolved with an app that deterred people from using their smart phones. This solution assumed that usage of mobile devices, in an implicitly social environment, was making people less social. Through closer investigation of my research I discovered that in these awkward silences people would mostly resort to checking and updating their social networking accounts. This lead me to the assertion that mobile devices were not making users less social, in fact they are making us more social, there is just a lack of applications that allow users to integrate a digital social sphere with physical social sphere. So for my social justice application I suggest the implementation of a game that can be played with those that are in your immediate vicinity with mobile devices and also shared in the digital social sphere over social networking sites.
My idea stems from the popular drinking board game, Cards Against Humanity. In the past couple years the game has become a cult classic with younger people. It is distributed under a creative commons license that allows the company to sell printed sets of the game in the typical board game fashion for a price of their choosing. They also have made sets available in PDF form that can be downloaded for free and printed and cut out by fans of the game. They have also provided blank cards to allow for user-generated decks to make the game more personal. The game is basically a more adult version of apples to apples, in which players are challenged to make the most crazy and entertaining statements based off of community and player held cards. The most entertaining version of the statement is determined by a vote from the players.
I would like to digitize this pop culture phenomenon in an app form in which users would be able to post their winning statements to the social networking sites of their choosing. Users would also be able to develop decks before they even gather in the social environment of their choosing whether it be a bar, restaurant, or at a friends house. Visually I imagine the application hosted on a private server so players can store and connect to their friends on a whim. I also imagine once an agreed upon deck is chosen that hands are dealt to each device and selections are viewable through their mobile devices. Once each play is made a voting aspect of the game will be sent out to each player. Once the winner is selected the winner will have the option to post the statement to their facebook, twitter and other social networks. This app would integrate both the digital sphere and physical space into one social experience. If this app were to be developed it would have to be done so through the Cards Against Humanity Site.
Some areas in which I have sought research are in various articles in books that look at game theory and the interplay of sociality in different types of games. First I will draw on the research of Stenros, Paavilainen, and Mayra from the University of Tampere on sociability in gaming. They look at sociability in both single player and multiplayer games both in the physical and digital realms. I will also draw from the book Social Game Design: Monetization, Methods, and Mechanics by Fields and Cotton. I hope to uncover methods of how to design and implement this social game to ensure its success in an ever growing market for independently developed and published mobile games. I will also be sourcing some research that I have already done on game theory and design in a previous classes term paper.
As for the schedule of completion, I plan to meet with Kristina DeVoe between April 7th and 18th. If I cannot secure a scheduled meeting with her that works for either of our schedules, I am confident that I can set up another meeting that will work because I work at Paley Library over 20 hours a week. In late April I hope to have both my visual design and presentation nailed down with either a working prototype of the app through an emulator or a video demonstrating the uses of the application. The first week of May I plan to work on and complete the paper aspect of this project through which I will implement all my sources and field research.