As part of ongoing research i have been sifting through a large volume of Animal Computer Interaction projects, i will be attempting to write something for the extended Call For Papers for ACE2015 the conference for the Advancement of Computer Entertainment which critiques the focus on utility in a large proportion of ACI. This paper reframes ACI as a form of Speculative or Critical Design Practice which can be used to propose arguments about anthropocentrism. This paper will compare a range of digital games designed for cats designed for phone and tablet devices to analyse what these games, as instances of ACI say about cats.
Animal Computer Interaction as Speculative and Critical Design Practice
The focus of Animal Computer Interaction (ACI) design has primarily targeted the utility of the design object, with emphasis often being on improving animal wellbeing, increasing animal productivity, or easing the tensions formed by incorporating animals into Human centered environments. The discipline has championed non-anthropocentric design, design that does not locate Human subjects at the center of the design process. ACI’s utilitarian approach is understandable and also mirrors many of the practices and methodologies within Human Computer Interaction; however it can marginalize other forms of Computer Interaction which could offer interesting reflections on animality and both the animal and human subject. This paper will broaden the consideration of ACI by reviewing a number of key examples of Game Design that focus on feline interaction and try to map some of the issues which arise when designing for cats as subjects.
This reflection leads to the proposal of ACI as a possible space for Critical or Speculative Design can be thought of as design practices which use designed objects to reflect on possible and plausible futures and the creation of designs as critical objects. By replacing the human in a number of design scenarios, new configurations of the design subject and design object can be produced to open spaces for critical reflection.