A Real Virtual Playroom: Designing Media to Foster Creative Engagement

Hunter, S. 2011, A Real Virtual Playroom: Designing Media to Foster Creative Engagement, Children’s Technology Review, Volume 19, No. 8, Issue 137

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By Seth Hunter

What principles should inform the design of software for children as access and exposure to different forms of media increases?
What do children expect from digital media and what is the role of the designer in shaping these expectations?
How should new media be integrated with the traditional play patterns and experiences of the child?

Hunter provides six questions you can ask to distinguish between digital and traditional media, as follows:
1) Create and Program: Can I make my own and bring it to life?
2) Pretending and Fantasy: Can I do impossible things?
3) Transformation: Can I become something new?
4) Interactivity: Can I make it respond to me?
5) Time-Based Storytelling and Playback: Can I tell a story?
6) Social Play at a Distance: Can I play with my friends?

Seth Hunter is a Ph.D. student at the MIT Media Lab. His research explores how to design media interfaces that are more socially and physically engaging. He is currently
working on mixed reality applications for children with a focus on creativity, expressiveness, and learning. Hunter has a BA in cognitive science and digital art from the University of
Virginia, and an MFA in art and technology from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has been employed as a toy designer, multimedia developer, instructional technologist, media artist, and teacher.

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