Drawing up the rules: encouraging children’s rule creation in interactive open-ended play

L. de Valk, T. Bekker, B. Eggen

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    4 Citations (Scopus)
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    When children play games like tag or jump rope, they often combine generally accepted predefined rules with their own invented and negotiated rules. These rules also occur in play with interactive play objects. In this field, we research children’s interactions with open-ended play designs that offer interaction opportunities to which children can attach their own meaning. In this paper, we focus on the different types of rules that are important in open-ended play: the interaction behavior rules developed by the designer and the created game rules invented by the users (children aged 4–8). We identify two relevant steps in between the intentions of the designers and the users: interpretation and improvisation. This knowledge extends existing communication-based models of design. Moreover, we present two design cases that illustrate how these steps lead to freedom and diversity in children’s interaction with open-ended play objects and we discuss relevant implications for design.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)120-129
    JournalInternational Journal of Child-Computer Interaction
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • open ended play
    • interaction
    • communication models
    • Children
    • rules
    • improvisation


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