Designing for exploratory play with a hackable digital musical instrument

McPherson, Andrew P; Chamberlain, Alan; Hazzard, Adrian; McGrath, Sean and Benford, Steve. 2016. 'Designing for exploratory play with a hackable digital musical instrument'. In: Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems. Brisbane, Australia 4-8 June 2016. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

This paper explores the design of digital musical instruments (DMIs) for exploratory play. Based on Gaver's principles of ludic design, we examine the ways in which people come to terms with an unfamiliar musical interface. We describe two workshops with the D-Box, a DMI designed to be modified and hacked by the user. The operation of the D-Box is deliberately left ambiguous to encourage users to develop their own meanings and interaction techniques. During the work- shops we observed emergent patterns of exploration which revealed a rich process of exploratory play. We discuss our observations in relation to previous literature on appropriation, ambiguity and ludic engagement, and we provide recommendations for the design of playful and exploratory interfaces.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Identification Number (DOI):


Ludic design, ambiguity, musical instruments, exploration, play, hacking

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



4 June 2016Accepted
4 June 2016Published

Event Location:

Brisbane, Australia

Date range:

4-8 June 2016

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

07 Jun 2019 12:08

Last Modified:

09 Jun 2021 11:04


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