Photo of people playing Schminky


A networked sound game trialled at Watershed to promote social interaction and test acceptability of new technologies in social spaces.

Schminky was a game which revolved around identifying missing musical sounds. Users played on their own or with others using handheld devices. A graphical and musical representation of the network of Schminky players was shown on screens around Watershed Café/Bar.

Part of Mobile Bristol, the project aimed to explore the role of pervasive computing in social spaces and how it might enhance and encourage social interaction as a key factor in experience. Hewlett Packard’s design goals were to develop an experience that would be challenging, stimulate the senses, encourage social interaction and fit with the context of use.

Duncan Speakman was chosen to take charge of the creative aspects of the project due to his background in sound recording and his intimate knowledge of Watershed and its clientele.

Development of the design of the game and its implementation was an iterative, highly experimental one with many forms of prototype and technical evaluation tests undertaken.

The culmination of the project was a week long public trial where visitors to Watershed could use an IPAQ handheld computer and play Schminky. Players worked to solve musical puzzles that involved identifying sounds missing from an audio prompt. They could play individually or invite other Schminky users in the bar to join in a group game. The game was specifically designed to promote social interaction and test acceptability of new technologies in social spaces.

Over the course of the week 140 different people tried the game; five people came back on different days to play again, ninety-five questionnaires were completed, and bar takings increased 11% compared to the week before. Three-quarters of the users played a multiplayer game (half of these were with strangers), and nearly everyone enjoyed it.

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Ended in March 2003

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