Prof. Paul Coulton

Coulton
Chair of Speculative and Game Design
Speculative Design, Design Fiction, Game Design, Design as Rhetoric, Research through Design, 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 spend 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 design, 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 platforms. 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 consideration of interaction design as 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

Updates and Outcomes

Digital Installations in Hawkshead Church

Articleby Paul Coulton

As part of our Creating and exploring Digital Empathy project we have recently installed a system at St Michael’s and All Angels in Hawkshead, which allows people to type in prayers that are then projected onto the church’s interior wall. These prayers are then shared in a similar way with St Peter De Beauvoir Town Church in Hackney. The Diocese of Carlisle have created their own fil shown below to highlight the...Read full article

Digital R&D Fund Project Report Published

OutcomeReport
Digital R&D Fund Project Report Published

Our project report detailing our experiences of creating a mobile augmented reality application that allows users to curate an exhibition from the Live@LICA collection from their own home is now available. ...More information

Dissemination Beyond Papers for Early Career Academics

Dissemination Beyond Papers for Early Career Academics

IDEAS for Impact delivered a session to help early career academics think about how they could disseminate their research beyond traditional papers.

The event took place on Wednesday 10th June and was the IDEAS for Impact team's final session contribution to this year's new programme of...Read full update

Mobile Game Player Testing

Mobile Game Player Testing

As part of a research project based in Imagination we have been working on a game called COLD SUN and we are now seeking people to play the game over the course of a week.

What does it involve? After  playing the game for a week we an interview either in person or over the phone will be...Read full update

Speculative Game Design

Speculative Game Design

Last week I gave a talk to the Computer Arts Society that presented a design manifesto for using games as speculative designs through which players might explore scenarios that represent plausible alternative presents and speculative futures.

The talk will reviewed future orientated design...Read full update

CEDE Church featured in the Church Times

CEDE Church featured in the Church Times

The CEDE installations at St Peter's De Beauvoir Town Church have been cited in relation to the argument for WiFi to be installed in every Church of England Church.

The Church of England's Buildings Division has backed a plan to fit all of the CofE's 16,000 churches with WiFi internet access....Read full update

Dissemination Beyond Papers for Early Career Academics

Dissemination Beyond Papers for Early Career Academics

IDEAS for Impact delivered a session to help early career academics think about how they could disseminate their research beyond traditional papers.

The event took place on Wednesday 10th June and was the IDEAS for Impact team's final session contribution to this year's new programme of...Read full update

Mobile Game Player Testing

Mobile Game Player Testing

As part of a research project based in Imagination we have been working on a game called COLD SUN and we are now seeking people to play the game over the course of a week.

What does it involve? After  playing the game for a week we an interview either in person or over the phone will be...Read full update

Speculative Game Design

Speculative Game Design

Last week I gave a talk to the Computer Arts Society that presented a design manifesto for using games as speculative designs through which players might explore scenarios that represent plausible alternative presents and speculative futures.

The talk will reviewed future orientated design...Read full update

CEDE Church featured in the Church Times

CEDE Church featured in the Church Times

The CEDE installations at St Peter's De Beauvoir Town Church have been cited in relation to the argument for WiFi to be installed in every Church of England Church.

The Church of England's Buildings Division has backed a plan to fit all of the CofE's 16,000 churches with WiFi internet access....Read full update

Ethics of Data

BBC R&D video released for European Data Protection Day.

As part of the developing research area concerned with the ethics of data, BBC Research & Development wants to understand how it can demonstrate excellence in data privacy & security for people using connected services. As part...Read full update

Digital Empathy Project on BBC Click

Digital Empathy Project on BBC Click

The interactive systems we developed as part of our project on Digital Empathy for St Peter De Beauvoir Town Church in Hackney are featured on BBC Click

The has installed a wifi-enabled prayer candle system, digital advent window and a interactive font we created for the congregation...Read full update

Digital Installations in Hawkshead Church

Articleby Paul Coulton

As part of our Creating and exploring Digital Empathy project we have recently installed a system at St Michael’s and All Angels in Hawkshead, which allows people to type in prayers that are then projected onto the church’s interior wall. These prayers are then shared in a similar way with St Peter De Beauvoir Town Church in Hackney. The Diocese of Carlisle have created their own fil shown below to highlight the...Read full article

NEW Lecturer post in Data Prototyping and Visualisation

Articleby Paul Coulton, Martyn Evans

As part of Lancaster University’s 50th Anniversary Lectureships Scheme to appointment of 50 early career academics we are seeking candidates for a new lectureship in Data Prototyping and Visualisation. ...Read full article

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

You can find a list of Paul Coulton's publications on the Lancaster University research pages.

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.