Watch My Moves: From Digital Plays to the Digital Playbook

S. Ruecker, A. Sapp, B. Roessler, M. Radzikowska, S. Sinclair, K. Uszkalo, and S. Gabriele (Canada)


Computer-Human Interaction, Visualization, Football, Interface Design, Repurposing Technology, Cross-domain Affordances


The goal of this project was to redesign an experimental prototype and apply its design features to a different and only tangentially related model. In testing the transferability of a very specific technology across domains we hoped to illustrate how the redeployment of digital design can create affordances for the designer and user alike. The original prototype is an online system for playing back the text of a script [1] intended to support directors in blocking plays, actors in learning their lines, and students in studying plays [2]. This system, “Watching the Script,” provides an important educational mid-point between the static printed page and the staged or cinematic play. From this initial prototype, we repurposed the design for use by sports teams, and in particular, American football teams. The new design is intended to support coaches in designing plays, football players in learning them, and fans in watching stylized re enactments of games. Although a number of software packages provide these groups with the opportunity to play virtual games or view existing plays, our prototype extends functionality in several uncharted directions. Much as a student of drama might replay an entire script, our “Digital Playbook” provides the ability to replay an entire football game from kick-off to touch-down. The “Digital Playbook” can also review sports plays in multiple ways: following a single player, selecting parts of the field, or viewing only offense or only defense. This mirrors its previous use in “Watching the Script,” where actors could isolate their part to learn their lines, or directors could replay all the action in a given location. By identifying, and exploring parallel design functions across domains, the evolution of “Watching the Script” to “The Digital Playbook” illustrates how the considerable time, effort, and money spent creating a prototype can, with some thought to the essential needs of the wildly 528-079 175 different fields, be recouped through its repurposing. Moreover, by playing with some of the elements of functionality demanded by the original, the designer and user can discover some delightful new ways of looking at their own project, which an independent design might not have offered. We ourselves found that football is a kind of theatre, the text is the play, and ‘the play is the thing.’

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