Players and Performance: Opportunities for Social Interaction with Augmented Tabletop Games at Centres for Children with Autism
This research aimed to investigate how children with autism interacted with rich audio and visual augmented reality (AR) tabletop games. Based on in-depth needs analysis facilitated through autism centers in China, we designed and developed MagicBLOCKS, a series of tabletop AR interactive games for children with autism. We conducted a four-week field study with 15 male children. We found that the interactive dynamics in games were rewarding and played critical roles in motivation and sustained interest. In addition, based on post-hoc interviews and video analysis with expert therapists, we found that MagicBLOCKS provided opportunities for children with autism to engage with each other through player performances and audience interactions with episodes of cooperation and territoriality. We discuss the limitations and the insights offered by this research.