Rethinking Age in HCI Through Anti-Ageist Playful Interactions

This is one of the articles I’m probably the most proud of, in terms of methodology and analysis. There are three things that are really close to my interests – interaction criticism, playful interaction, pragmatist aesthetics – and all are in play in this paper. I’m a bit disappointed that it stayed for a whole year behind a paywall, and now that the embargo period is over I’m republishing it for free on my own site. Free PDF available below.


ABSTRACT: While a purely assistive approach often casts aging people in passive roles, recent studies suggest that adults may be ‘flourishing’ way into advanced age, even though implicit ageist prejudices are difficult to eradicate. Negative age-related stereotypes are the hidden and yet urgent issue we address in this study. There is a clear opportunity for an anti-ageist perspective in HCI, an approach that we propose as complementary to assistive technologies: in addition to providing solutions for the aging population, we urgently call for designs about aging, to spark a conversation on age, raise awareness and ultimately contrast ageist stereotypes. We point at empathy as a key element to reconceptualize, at least in part, HCI’s contribution to research on aging. We present a design critique of two interactive pieces that, although not without flaws, suggest how future empathy-raising artifacts might be. Our analysis combines pragmatist aesthetics, interaction criticism and ludology, and yields four design tactics (recurring configurations of significant elements) that are generative in bringing about broader design implications towards a different, empathy-based concept of aging in HCI.

Ferri, Gabriele, Jeffrey Bardzell, and Shaowen Bardzell. 2017. “Rethinking Age in HCI Through Anti-Ageist Playful Interactions.” Interacting with Computers 1 (15).

Read the paper (PDF – author’s archival copy)