Prof. Paul Coulton

Coulton
Chair of Speculative and Game Design
Speculative Design, Design Fiction, Game Design, Design as Rhetoric, Research through Design, Design Futures, 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. Some of this research is conducted using techniques I helped pioneer and relates to an, 'situated' 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 technological futures for areas such as the Internet of Things and Digital Empathy. 

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

Updates and Outcomes

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

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

NuBlue provides support for BARTER

NuBlue are providing free hosting for BARTER to log research data in the cloud.

We are delighted that InfoLab21 company NuBlue has offered to provide BARTER with free hosting for the duration of the project. This allows us to utilise a scalable virtual hosting platform t...Read full update

scARecrow Time Machine available on the App Store

scARecrow Time Machine available on the App Store

Use this Augmented Reality application to find scarecrows hidden in both space and time throughout your local environment. These scarecrows are from the annual scarecrow festival held in the village of Wray in Lancashire in the UK.

The emergence of the Internet and networked media has opened...Read full update

ScareBot goes to Wray Scarecrow Festival

ScareBot goes to Wray Scarecrow Festival

ScareBot unveiled at the 2013 Wray Scarecrow Festival

During the May bank holiday weekend our design and development of ScareBot was revealed at the 2013 Wray Scarecrow Festival. Standing nearly 2.5 meters tall ScareBot is an interactive digital scarecrow designed with the help of the children...Read full update

ScareBot takes shape

ScareBot takes shape

Down in the lab scarebot rises from the slab!

Having spent Easter laser cutting the components for scarebot its great to see it taking shape from the workbench. The next stage will be wiring up the Android tablet, Raspberry Pi, and Arduino to power all the interactive components. ...Read full update

ScareBot construction

ScareBot construction

Fabrication of main digital scarecrow parts done!

Over Easter the main construction and fabrication of the digital scarecrow (scarebot) made significant progress with all the major body parts laser cut and assembled. The next stage will be to assemble and acrylic weld the body before adding...Read full update

Local Trade-Local Wealth NFC cards

Local Trade-Local Wealth NFC cards

Local Trade – Local Wealth NFC cards.

Today we took delivery of the first batch of Catalyst project Local Trade – Local Wealth NFC cards. These will enable customers to register their trades with members of ESTA in Lancaster during the system alpha trials that will commence shortly. The...Read full update

PhD Studentships related to Design for the Internet of Things

Articleby Paul Coulton
PhD Studentships related to Design for the Internet of Things

We are pleased to offer two funded PhD studentships to work in conjunction within Imagination academics in two areas related to Design in the Internet of Things. These two posts provide not only the opportunity to work with leading design academics but in conjunction with the recently established UK Cyber Security Research Hub for the internet of things which includes nine of the country’s leading universities (PETRAS). PhD Design Fiction for The...Read full article

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
FictionWareFictionWare FictionWare For all your future Design Fiction needs!
Creative ExchangeCreative Exchange Creative Exchange Creating New Contexts for Growth in the Experience Economy