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Wednesday, June 26 • 10:30am - 11:00am
Pocket Ritual: Developing A Phone App For Self-Exploration Based On The Hero's Journey

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Self-directed play can get us in touch with our inner truth. If we follow our internal play-compass, it points the way to an authentic life, or what Joseph Campbell calls “bliss”. Free play, however, does not come easily to adults. If one is out-of-touch with oneself, one does not know where to start. In games, play is guided by rules. But usually games are about a specific, pre-defined idea.

This presentation focuses on the design of “Pocket Ritual”, a windows phone app for self-exploration, which addresses this issue. “Pocket Ritual” is a ludic framework that leverages the potential of free play for self-discovery, while providing a structure to guide it. At its center are 12 card categories, corresponding to the 12 steps of the hero’s journey. Each morning, the app randomly suggests cards within these 12 categories for players to build a hand and play throughout the day. Cards contain evocative questions for contemplation that refer to a stage on the journey. E.g. a card that belongs to the “mentor” stage might ask about supportive / admirable qualities in people (dead or alive) that you would like to be your mentors. Players can decide to accept or skip cards. Playing a card is accompanied by uploading a picture and adjective that represent the player’s emotional associations with the card. This process constructs the “Journey Landscape”. Each card category has a corresponding landscape tile (e.g. “ordinary world”; “threshold”; “inmost cave”). Playing cards transforms their associated landscape tiles, creating unique journeys that further invite reflection: if the pictures and adjectives associated with the “Threshold” are fearful or hesitant, this will be reflected in the audio-visual representation of the “Threshold” part of the journey.

The goal of this presentation on “Pocket Ritual” is to provide a further example of, and invite a dialogue about how games and ludic applications can promote emotional health and personal development, as well as to inspire more design work in that direction. The talk will give concrete examples of how research on play, creative recovery, authentic living and positive psychology informed the design, and reflect on the issues revolving around structured vs. free play to leverage play’s potential for personal growth.

avatar for Doris Rusch

Doris Rusch

Associate professor, DePaul University

Wednesday June 26, 2013 10:30am - 11:00am EDT
Room B: Back Bay Grand

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