[Chinese DiGRA 2015] Hanna Wirman on the second screen and play multitasking: Mapping out fragmented/ continuous gameplay

Hanna Wirman, Hong Kong Polytechic University, School of Design

‘Second screen’ entertainment model – the use of a mobile device while watching television – makes games ever more pervasive in our daily lives. Such use also steadily expands beyond TV+mobile model to other two or multiple screens use situations. Meanwhile, the typical mechanics of ‘freemium’ casual games encourage play of multiple games simultaneously because waiting for things to happen in one game frees us time to play another. Paradoxically, casual games which are considered as fillers of the silent moments between everyday routines now create idle moments of their own. Not only do we swap from screen to screen but also start to multitask between games. Accepting this fragmentation of mobile game play and dual-screen entertainment, this paper attempts to define what exactly is new and different in such a form of entertainment and to which extend fragmentation has taken place in play all along. I will explore how the traditionally understood second screen model changes when we consider two game screens instead. Ways in which games create ‘cliffhangers’, varying motivations for swapping as well as reward returning to the screen are discussed. I will argue that while play-multitasking is not new as such, today’s mobile games support fragmented use in a novel way.

Author info

Dr. Hanna Wirman is a Research Assistant Professor at the School of Design of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University where she leads the M.Sc. Game Development study stream. Her research focuses on games and play approaching these primarily from the point of view of players and shared creative practices in design. Hanna’s current research addresses non-human animals as players and she builds games for orangutans’ enrichment and for cross-species communication. Hanna leads educational and socially responsible game design and development projects working closely with the local community and NGOs in Hong Kong.