Playfields is an 18-month ERC funded project, which aims to create a prototype mobile app for playful fieldwork. It draws on the insights and outcomes of two related projects. The Charting the Digital project (funded by ERC, 2011-2016) investigated new theories, media and practices of digital cartography pointing towards the potential of digital maps in understanding and performing environments in new ways. The Go Go Gozo project (funded by Erasmus+, 2014-2017) focuses on the relationship between mobile methods and playful research in the field, and applies these approaches in a multidisciplinary and international student field course. In order to develop these ideas and to make them available to others, we are now creating the Playfields app as a proof of concept. The playtesting of this prototype is also co-funded by a proof of concept award of Warwick Ventures.
The Playfields app allows groups to design instructions for each other, which they then perform in the field. Each set of instructions is guided by a distinct methodological approach, challenging students to think differently about their topic and method of study. The app includes a novel map view as well as functionality for recording notes, images, video and GPS. As such, Playfields is not an educational game, but rather a tool to facilitate playful situated learning experiences. It can be applied to encourage more playful fieldwork, or as an introduction to creative and critical research methods. It is theme- and location-independent, and can therefore encompass different disciplinary, cultural, international and institutional contexts.