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The drift table: designing for ludic engagement

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsPaper


  • William W. Gaver
  • John Bowers
  • Andrew Boucher
  • Sarah Pennington
  • Hans Gellersen
  • Albrecht Schmidt
  • Anthony Steed
  • Nicholas Villars
  • Brendan Walker
Publication date2004
Host publicationCHI '04 extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems
Place of publicationNew York
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)1-58113-703-6
Original languageEnglish


The Drift Table is an electronic coffee table that displays slowly moving aerial photography controlled by the distribution of weight on its surface. It was designed to investigate our ideas about how technologies for the home could support ludic activities-that is, activities motivated by curiosity, exploration, and reflection rather than externally-defined tasks. The many design choices we made, for example to block or disguise utilitarian functionality, helped to articulate our emerging understanding of ludic design. Observations of the Drift Table being used in volunteers' homes over several weeks gave greater insight into how playful exploration is practically achieved and the issues involved in designing for ludic engagement.