Conference 5–9 August 2012
Exhibition 7–9 August 2012
Los Angeles Convention Center

Combiform: Beyond Co-Attentive Play, a Combinable Social-Gaming Platform

Los Angeles Convention Center, Concourse Foyer

Communal casual games (CCG) are a game genre that draws players' attentions more to others than to a virtual world. It combines digital-game approaches with social physical play in the play community. Games in this category rely on coLiberation (group flow) rather than flow for maximizing players’ intrinsic motivations. Players should not care about the game objectives or game experiences as much as creating a fun-oriented community. Most such games involve physical touching, but this is not a requirement. In fact, cheating, performing, touching, physical contacts, etc. are common practice in CCG.

Combiform is the first digital-game platform that is especially designed for communal casual game practice. The hardware forces players to focus on other players, embracing their physical bodies as part of the game to enhance the big WE in coLiberation. The LEDs make the game’s feedback apparent not just to individual players, but also to the play community. Motion sensing is a classic mimetic control choice that emphasizes the events in player space but not screen space. Having only one big button and one big knob encourages well-timed cheats and makes individual actions very visible to the rest of the group, allowing easy interruption of those actions during play.

This is a unique project because it is not merely using novel technologies to promote new forms of interactions during play. It also endorses a movement, an emergent change in the game-design community. Combiform takes advantage of its unique hardware design to further a new perspective on digital games that uses old rules to create new types of play.

Edmond Yee
University of Southern California

Tai An
University of Southern California

Andrew Dang
University of Southern California

Josh Joiner
University of Southern California

Andy Uehara
University of Southern California