Annamaria Andrea Vitali

Creative Processes and Expressive Techniques in Playful Multimedia

The goal of this dissertation is to investigate the design processes governing the creation of interactive multimedia artifacts where interactivity, together with other design elements contributes significantly in engaging the audience through the interactive experience. Interactive multimedia solutions allow people to have access to content and information. Despite the use of interactivity for creating meaningful experience has been widely explored in interaction design, we still lack a design knowledge that models the design mechanisms governing the creation of meaningful and engaging interactions, exploring form and expressive dimensions of interactive multimedia, beyond simply satisfying usability requirements. This dissertation aims at finding answers focusing the research on other fields of interaction design: experimental and authorial video games. Indeed, designers and creators of experimental video games are exploring expressive dimensions of interactive multimedia to engage audience on authorial and cultural content. The research process deals with the topic through a theoretical overview, a collection of case studies, and video game prototyping, reaching different results. Firstly a theoretical re-definition of meaningful play experiences as sense making processes (out from the full control of the designer) where the engagement could be both tied to multisensory and/or cognitive processes. Secondly a final model of analysis identifies three expressive dimensions – storytelling, gameplay, and visual representation – through which designers give form to experimental play mechanisms and multimedia effects. These mechanisms result from author’s expression in modeling the different expressive dimensions of the medium. In the same time, they allow players to find their role in the interactive experience. As third result, the research reflects on the creative processes leading the creation of authorial video games: author’s needs of expression from one side, and cultural and artistic requirements from the other one. Taking inspiration from autobiographical events, historical and cultural references, other form of art like literature and cinema, an experience mechanism or emotional mood, video games are crafted to provide a digital communication space where players can engage in experiencing something/someone else’s story through experimental design mechanisms.