Dr Rilla Khaled, Concordia University

Keynote title: Speculative Play and Paratopian Design

Keynote abstract:

What if we could make complex social and cultural questions playable? And what if we could do so through interactions with familiar digital interfaces set in alternative presents and near futures? These questions constitute the backbone of my project, Speculative Play, which sits at the intersection between the design traditions of speculative and critical design on the one hand, and the philosophies and best practices of game design, playful media and interaction design on the other.

It turns out, though, that an arranged marriage between these traditions produces unusual offspring. In this talk, grounded in design examples ranging from immigration systems that rely entirely on cooking skill, outsourcing religious tolerance to technology, matrimonial websites from the near future, and flirtatious AI chatbot therapists, I make the case for paratopian design, which is neither utopian nor dystopian, but points to paradigm shifts that invite us to reconsider the building blocks of “here” & “now”.

Bio-note: Dr Rilla Khaled is Director, Technoculture, Art, and Games (TAG) Research Centre and Associate Professor in Design and Computation Arts at Concordia University in Canada. Her research interests span the design of learning and persuasive games, interactions between games and culture, procedural content generation, and practices involved in game design.

Lately she has been exploring “deep” playing/learning experiences that often take place when you play experimental games. Her latest focus is on reflective game design, a new design perspective that embraces ambiguous subject matter, pushes for subverting game design standards, and draws together learning and experimental games.

Specialties: Game design methods, critical and reflective design, interaction design, third wave HCI, serious games, digital games, participatory design, cross-cultural psychology, quantitative and qualitative research methodologies