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User Experience of Digital Leisure Technologies
“Games have become this generation’s ultimate weapon against all the dead time that life throws their way. As they see it, there is never a good reason to be bored; that’s why God invented Game Boy. From the back seat of Mom’s mini-van to those slow moments around the Thanksgiving table, you can always count on Mario…” (Beck & Wade, 2006)
I can remember using this quote again and again when presenting my PhD work. I felt like it captured that magical feeling I had as a child when I would play video games with my sister. We would sit for hours on end, excitedly watching the screen, fingers pressing buttons frantically as we tried to beat the baddies and progress to the next level. Nowadays I don’t have as much time to play video games, but I still find that my spare time is often filled with technology. Updating my status on social media, browsing videos online, watching my favourite TV shows, playing games on my mobile phone – the list goes on and on. Digital leisure is everywhere around us and it looks like it is here to stay!
In my research I aim to understand people’s experiences with digital leisure. I define digital leisure as any leisure activity that utilizes technology. My research questions include:
- What does a positive experience with a technology (e.g. immersion) look like? How can we measure this experience?
- What factors attract a person to take on a new technology? Which factors put them off?
- How do game mechanisms affect people’s motivations to keep playing/ keep using an online service?
- How can we design citizen science projects to sustain people’s motivations for longer?
During my PhD research at UCLIC, I investigated people’s immersive experiences playing video games. I designed the Immersive Experience Questionnaire (IEQ), a questionnaire that can be used by researchers to quantify immersive experiences (Jennett et al., 2008). In our journal paper we explain how the questionnaire was created and validated; it has received over 200 citations to date.
During my first Post-doc at UCL Info-Sec, I investigated privacy and trust issues that affected whether a person chose to use an online service. In 2012 our conference paper “Too close for comfort” was awarded a CHI honourable mention; this is awarded to the top 5% of CHI submissions. We explain that the more personalized a targeted advert is (e.g. using the person’s name, photo), the more likely it is to be noticed, but also the more uncomfortable the person felt (Malheiros et al., 2012). We argue that this finding is an important tradeoff that social networking sites should consider as they are starting to use increasingly more personalized ads.
Currently, in my second Post-doc at UCLIC, I am investigating motivations for participating in citizen science projects. Citizen science is a type of crowd-sourcing, where volunteers (‘citizen scientists’) collaborate with professional scientists to conduct scientific research. By utilizing the Internet, allowing volunteers to participate via a website or a mobile app, there is potential for scientists to recruit the help of many volunteers. However there is also the added challenge of coordinating work and keeping volunteers motivated, as the volunteers and scientists have very little face-to-face interaction.
Working on the Citizen Cyberlab project, I have co-authored several conference papers about citizen science so far, including two CHI papers. In Iacovides et al. (2013) we explain that people do not choose to join a citizen science game because they like games, but because they have an intrinsic interest in the topic. This finding is useful for researchers thinking about gamifying their citizen science project, as it highlights that game mechanisms should be thought of as a way to sustain the attention of interested volunteers, and not as a way of attracting gamers to volunteer.
In Eveleigh et al. (2014) we explore the complex relationship between motivations and contribution. While high contributors were deeply engaged by social or competitive features, low contributors described a solitary experience of ‘dabbling’ in projects for short periods. We argue that since the majority of participants exhibit this small-scale contribution pattern, there is great potential value in designing interfaces to tempt lone workers to complete ‘just another page’ or to lure early drop-outs back into participation.
If you would like to find out more about my research then please check out my publications. You can also follow me on Twitter @CharleneJennett
Click here to visit our HCI-games website, where you can download our Immersive Experience Questionnaire (IEQ) with score sheet.
Click here to download the Old Weather survey, which is referenced in an upcoming CHI paper by Eveleigh et al. (2014): Designing for Dabblers and Deterring Drop-outs in Citizen Science.
Page last modified on 14 may 13 17:11 by Charlene I Jennett