Playing virtual games with frames

Playing virtual games with frames

Posted by Annelies Querner-Verkerk on Thu 04 Jul. 2013 - 2 minute read

For public displays nowadays, we are no longer limited to traditional square and flat designs. More wild and appealing forms like curves, spheres, or columns are now possible as well.

Wild and appealing public displays

People that pass by such displays may behave differently than when they see a traditional square and flat one. This effect may be unwanted and people might miss important information on the display because they mainly look at other eye-catching parts. But it also offers interesting possibilities to manipulate the people passing by the display. If you know how the display shape influences people, you can use this knowledge to optimize information transfer.

Games with frames

Beyer et al. [1] investigated in a recent paper whether the presence of frames influences the behavior of people in front of a display. In a human computer interaction (HCI) study, they displayed a virtual game on a large cylinder. Using Microsoft Kinect, they projected cartoon-like images of the people around the cylinder onto it. These images could throw colorful balls at each other in response to the real movements of the people.

The projected image on the cylinder was completely seamless and, while gaming, people could move around freely. The image on the cylinder either contained large projected rectangular frames, or no such frames. The people gaming were recorded and video files were created with MediaRecorder. To allow systematic behavioral observations, the videos were imported into scoring software The Observer XT and the positions of the people around the cylinder were coded.

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Unconsciously affected

People distributed themselves freely around the virtual games cylinder when no rectangular frames were projected. However, when the frames were present, people positioned themselves in front of the middle of the frames. When two people arrived at the same time, they often positioned themselves behind each other in front of the center of the same frame. They did so even if this impaired each other’s movements.

Alternatively, both persons positioned themselves in front of the center of a separate frame, also if this meant that they were standing too far from each other to play the game well. Interestingly, among the 79 people that were interviewed afterwards, only one actually recalled having seen the frames.

Manipulating with frames

These results show that people can be manipulated by the shape of a display. The authors suggest that you can use frames to position people, for example, to create a certain distance between them.

On the other hand, you should not use frames if you want people to stand closer to each other and cooperate in gaming.

As a conclusion, display shapes and frames offer interesting possibilities for directing people to a certain place while they are completely unaware of this.


Beyer, Gilbert, et al. "Squaring the circle: how framing influences user behavior around a seamless cylindrical display." Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, 2013.

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