Dr Paul Coulton

Coulton
Senior Lecturer
Speculative Design, Design Fiction, Game Design, Design as Rhetoric, Phygital Design, Atoms and Bits, Internet of Things, Play, Toys
p [dot] coulton [at] lancaster [dot] ac [dot] uk

I have a background as a game designer, programmer, and hardware designer and now spends my time subverting perfectly good technology to create novel games, playful experiences, and toys. My research largely falls into what is known as Game Studies, an area of research that deals with the critical study of digital and non-digital games. More specifically, it focuses on game design, players and their role in society and culture. This means that Game Studies has evolved naturally as an inter-disciplinary field with researchers and academics from a multitude of areas, such as computer science, psychology, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, arts and literature, media studies and communication, etc. This activity is embodied as ‘research through design’ and, in particular, to the speculative design of novel, hybrid, physical/digital interactive games, playful experiences, and artefacts. Much of this research is conducted using techniques I helped pioneer and relates to an, 'in the wild' evaluation methodology utilising 'app stores' and social networks as an experimental platform. This element of my work has led to international recognition by industry as well as academia in that I was selected as one of 50 most talented mobile developers worldwide from a community of over 2 million to be a founding Nokia Champion and the first academic invited to speak at the mobile section of the Game Developers Conference. Increasingly, my work encompasses the non-entertainment use of ‘gameful design’ through procedural rhetoric across a range of application areas and increasingly the use of Design Fiction as a way of exploring digital futures for areas such as the Internet of Things and Digital Empathy. 

“Play is the highest form of research.” - Albert Einstein

"Games are the most elevated form of investigation" -Albert Einstein

Updates and Outcomes

Wicked Persuasion: A Designerly Approach

OutcomeConference Paper

Persuasive computing has tended to be applied toward the promotion of minor behavior change in the direction of easily understood and uncontroversial goals. Such approaches may not make sense, however, when designing for so called ‘wicked problems’. We argue that while wicked...More information

Augmented Reality Art

Augmented Reality Art

Using augmented reality to curate your own art exhibitions

The application we have designed for the NESTA R&D fund project is now live on the Google App store and will work across a range of devices. The app uses Mobile Augmented Reality (MAR) to allow people to digitally curate their own...Read full update

Television in the Internet of Things

Television in the Internet of Things

How will traditional media such as television and radio adapt as they become part of a larger Internet of Things.

I had the great pleasure of spending last term on sabbatical within the BBC R&D lab at MediaCityUK to effectively engage in some knowledge exchange between my research...Read full update

Designing mobile and ubiquitous games and playful interactions

OutcomeBook Chapter

Marshall McLuhan famously said in his 1964 book The Medium is the Message, We become what we behold. We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us. In a relatively short time, video games have become a major feature of our cultural landscape that extend beyond the games themselves such that...More information

How to Win in the Age of Now?

How to Win in the Age of Now?

An Inspirational Masterclass delivered by the Worldwide CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, Kevin Roberts on Monday 10th of February.

The event attracted many creative and digital companies looking to take their business to the next level, and become high-growth creative leaders loved by their...Read full update

Initial User Experience Testing for Mobile Augmented Reality App

Initial User Experience Testing for Mobile Augmented Reality App

Today we tested the current version of the app with some of the volunteers from Live at LICA to ascertain how usable and understandable it was. The test was successful in that we got useful suggestions for improvements to guide users understanding on first use but everyone found that once...Read full update

Augmented Reality Art

Augmented Reality Art

Using augmented reality to curate your own art exhibitions

The application we have designed for the NESTA R&D fund project is now live on the Google App store and will work across a range of devices. The app uses Mobile Augmented Reality (MAR) to allow people to digitally curate their own...Read full update

Television in the Internet of Things

Television in the Internet of Things

How will traditional media such as television and radio adapt as they become part of a larger Internet of Things.

I had the great pleasure of spending last term on sabbatical within the BBC R&D lab at MediaCityUK to effectively engage in some knowledge exchange between my research...Read full update

How to Win in the Age of Now?

How to Win in the Age of Now?

An Inspirational Masterclass delivered by the Worldwide CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, Kevin Roberts on Monday 10th of February.

The event attracted many creative and digital companies looking to take their business to the next level, and become high-growth creative leaders loved by their...Read full update

Initial User Experience Testing for Mobile Augmented Reality App

Initial User Experience Testing for Mobile Augmented Reality App

Today we tested the current version of the app with some of the volunteers from Live at LICA to ascertain how usable and understandable it was. The test was successful in that we got useful suggestions for improvements to guide users understanding on first use but everyone found that once...Read full update

Making in the City [3D Printing] - Crossing Boundaries

Making in the City [3D Printing] - Crossing Boundaries

Co-creation through intense collaborative activity...Hexagons and Lego leading innovative 'thinking'...

As part of the 'Making in the City' Design Jam, participants were tasked to develop and critically examine emergent themes in greater detail, and then to offer new and innovative solutions...Read full update

Making in the City [3D Printing] Design Jam

Making in the City [3D Printing] Design Jam

Making in the City [3D Printing], offered a successful and acclaimed introduction to the series of Cities Design Jams, by the Imagination team at Lancaster.

Making in the City [3D Printing], was the first of three highly interactive design ‘Jams’ specially created for the London Fusion...Read full update

Mobile Augmented Reality in the Cloud

Articleby Paul Coulton, Emma Murphy
Mobile Augmented Reality in the Cloud

Our Digital R&D Fund for the Arts project 'Taking the Artwork Home' is exploring how digital technologies can facilitate engagement with the arts and unveil new curatorial strategies. After further development and testing, we have just launched the second prototype of the mobile augmented reality application. In much of this development period we have been ensuring that the application will work across a wide range of phones and...Read full article

Local Trade-Local Wealth prototype testing with ESTA

Articleby Paul Coulton
Local Trade-Local Wealth prototype testing with ESTA

Local Trade is a Catalyst launch pad to create a system which records trading patterns within the local trading economy of Lancaster. We are working with Lancaster Ethical Small Traders Association (ESTA) to create a prototype system using NFC enabled phones and cards to help record the local trading economy. Last night we demonstrated the first prototype to the ESTA group and will be incorporating some suggested changes before ‘in the wild’...Read full article

Key Projects

Creating and Exploring Digital Empathy Creating and Exploring Digital Empathy Creating and Exploring Digital Empathy How do we unlock the digital communication of empathy
BARTERBARTER BARTER moBile sociAl netwoRking supporTing local Ethical tRading
CaTalyST: Citizens Transforming Society (Tools for Change)CaTalyST: Citizens Transforming Society (Tools for Change) CaTalyST: Citizens Transforming Society (Tools for Change) This £1.5 million EPSRC funded 4 year project examines the role of new technology in citizen led ...
Telling Tales of Engagement: The Wray Broadband ProjectTelling Tales of Engagement: The Wray Broadband Project Telling Tales of Engagement: The Wray Broadband Project Scarebot and scARecrow Time Machine
CheckinDJCheckinDJ CheckinDJ The first crowdsourcing jukebox to use NFC technolog.