The Mobile Life Centre in Stockholm is an interdisciplinary lab that does serious research on unserious activities and comprises computer scientists, interaction designers, sociologists, psychologists and game designers. They are also part of SICS, and are partners with FoAM on the Lirec project. Last week I was lucky enough to work with them for 5 days focused on Germination X.
The main objective was to start designing a user study to discover people's feelings about their relationships in the game. We started off with a talk and a workshop, inviting the other researchers to help us decide the best ways of doing this - using interviews, online questionnaires, in game surveys or raw data from the game. The skills you need to design something like this (in order to get the best chance at finding answers to questions you are interested in), of course requires a totally different way of thinking compared to actually designing a game in the first place - it was very inspiring to be part of the process, and see first hand their work on other parts of the Lirec project, such as the ActDresses concept for end user programming of robots. It was also great to meet the group at the Mobile Life Centre who are working on pervasive gaming who had lots of ideas and directions for the study, as well as for the game itself.