Games and Leisure

Ethnographic explorations into designs of leisure technologies

Games are an important piece of the social fabric in our everyday lives. They help us build relationships with one another, and us with a fantasy space to practice working with and competing against others.

A physical Sphero can be controlled by tilting a corresponding <em>control sphero</em> in the desired direction of movement.
A physical Sphero can be controlled by tilting a corresponding control sphero in the desired direction of movement.

We have a continuing interest in games – and I don’t just mean in terms of playing them! – both in terms of studying how people interact with one another in games (Tang, Massey, Wong, Reilly, & Edwards, 2012; Wong, Tang, Livingston, Gutwin, & Mandryk, 2009; Neustaedter, Tang, & Tejinder, 2010), and in terms of designing engaging experiences (Jones, Dillman, Manesh, Sharlin, & Tang, 2014; Finke, Tang, Leung, & Blackstock, 2008; Neustaedter, Tang, & Judge, 2013). Our explorations have included physical games (Jones, Dillman, Manesh, Sharlin, & Tang, 2014), MMORPGs (Wong, Tang, Livingston, Gutwin, & Mandryk, 2009), first-person shooters (Tang, Massey, Wong, Reilly, & Edwards, 2012), and pervasive games (Neustaedter, Tang, & Tejinder, 2010; Neustaedter, Tang, & Judge, 2013; Jeffrey, Blackstock, Finke, Tang, Lea, Deutscher, & Miyaoku, 2006).

Our most recent efforts have gone into exploring how to describe and articulate the kinds of design strategies game designers use in their games. By identifying these strategies, other designers can learn from this, and improve their own games – perhaps by replicating these approaches, or by improving them. For instance, we categorized how game designers promote learnability in their games (Poretski & Tang, 2022). We also explored how game designers visually cue players within the context of video games (Dillman, Mok, Tang, Oehlberg, & Mitchell, 2018). Finally, we considered how game designers provide players with an awareness of other players within the game space (Wuertz, Alharthi, Hamilton, Bateman, Gutwin, Tang, Toups, & Hammer, 2018)


We have also taken a keen interest in livestreaming culture. We explored the nature of mukbang culture – that is, eating massive quantities of food on video – specifically to understand why people watch these videos (Anjani, Mok, Tang, Oehlberg, & Boon, 2020). We learned that people watch these videos for a variety of reasons, including missing their home culture or having an interest in learning about new food cultures. We have also recently found that it is possible to realize new taste sensations through such videos (James, Ranasinghe, Tang, & Oehlberg, 2022).

Yet, Livestreaming has created entirely new spaces for people to live, exist and be together with one another. Our recent work has explored how autistic livestreamers have taken over a sizable corner of the livestreaming market, creating a space for them to be who they are, to share their stories, and to be visible to one another and others (Mok, Tang, McCrimmon, & Oehlberg, 2022).


  1. Lev Poretski and Anthony Tang. (2022). Press A to Jump: Design Strategies for Video Game Learnability. In CHI 2022: Proceedings of the 2022 SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. (conference).
    Acceptance: 24.7% - 638/2579.
  2. Terrance Mok, Anthony Tang, Adam McCrimmon, and Lora Oehlberg. (2022). Social Access and Representation for Autistic Adult Livestreamers . In ASSETS ’22: The 24th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility. (poster).
  3. Meetha Nesam James, Nimesha Ranasinghe, Anthony Tang, and Lora Oehlberg. (2022). Flavor-Videos: Enhancing the Flavor Perception of Food while Eating with Videos . In IMX 2022: ACM International Conference on Interactive Media Experiences. (conference).
    Acceptance: 40% - 19/47.
  4. Laurensia Anjani, Terrance Mok, Anthony Tang, Lora Oehlberg, and Goh Wooi Boon. (2020). Why do people watch others eat? An empirical study on the motivations and practices of mukbang viewers. In CHI 2020: Proceedings of the 2020 SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 1–12. (conference).
  5. Kody Dillman, Terrance Mok, Anthony Tang, Lora Oehlberg, and Alex Mitchell. (2018). A Visual Interaction Cue Framework from Video Game Environments for Augmented Reality. In CHI 2018: Proceedings of the 2018 SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Paper 140. (conference).
    Acceptance: 25.7% - 667/2595. Notes: 10 pages; Includes raw supplemental material of the game examples described in the paper.
  6. Jason Wuertz, Sultan A. Alharthi, William A. Hamilton, Scott Bateman, Carl Gutwin, Anthony Tang, Zachary O. Toups, and Jessica Hammer. (2018). A Design Framework for Awareness Cues in Distributed Multiplayer Games. In CHI 2018: Proceedings of the 2018 SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Paper 243. (conference).
    Acceptance: 25.7% - 667/2595. Notes: 10 pages.
  7. Brennan Jones, Kody Dillman, Setareh Aghel Manesh, Ehud Sharlin, and Anthony Tang. (2014). Designing an Immersive and Entertaining Pervasive Gameplay Experience with Spheros as Game and Interface Elements. In EA CHI PLAY ’14: ACM SIGCHI Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play. (poster).
    Notes: 2-page abstract + poster.
  8. Carman Neustaedter, Anthony Tang, and Tejinder K. Judge. (2013). Creating scalable location-based games: lessons from Geocaching. Personal Ubiquitous Comput. 17, 2: 335–349. (journal).
  9. Anthony Tang, Jonathan Massey, Nelson Wong, Derek Reilly, and W. Keith Edwards. (2012). Verbal coordination in first person shooter games. In CSCW ’12: Proceedings of the ACM 2012 conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, ACM, 579–582. (conference).
    Acceptance: 29.6% - 37/125 for notes.
  10. Carman Neustaedter, Anthony Tang, and Judge K. Tejinder. (2010). The role of community and groupware in geocache creation and maintenance. In CHI ’10: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM, 1757–1766. (conference).
  11. Nelson Wong, Anthony Tang, Ian Livingston, Carl Gutwin, and Regan Mandryk. (2009). Character sharing in World of Warcraft. In ECSCW 2009: Proceedings of the European Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (ECSCW), Springer London, 343–362. (conference).
  12. Matthias Finke, Anthony Tang, Rock Leung, and Michael Blackstock. (2008). Lessons learned: game design for large public displays. In DIMEA ’08: Proceedings of the 3rd international conference on Digital Interactive Media in Entertainment and Arts, ACM, 26–33. (conference).
  13. Phillip Jeffrey, Mike Blackstock, Matthias Finke, Anthony Tang, Rodger Lea, Meghan Deutscher, and Kento Miyaoku. (2006). Chasing the Fugitive on Campus: Designing a Location-based Game for Collaborative Play. Loading.. Journal 1, 1. (journal).