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

The Peoples Republic of Monsters

OutcomeConference Paper

Paper presented at Performing Monstrosity in the City, 1st September 2012, Queen Mary, University of London. ...More information

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

Democratizing ubiquitous computing – a right for locality

OutcomeConference Paper

Increasing smartphone adoption, developmentof the service-oriented Internet, and continued diffusion of sensingtechnologies into cities have the potential to join up in some form of ubiquitouscomputing infrastructure. As the computer diffuses into the physical world, itloses its location-neutrality...More information

Ubicomp'12 paper

Paper accepted for Ubicomp'12

Paper titled ' Democratizing ubiquitous computing – a right for locality', based on Sebastian's Phd research has been accepted for the 14th ACM International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing to be held from September 5-8, 2012 in  Pittsburgh,...Read full update

Design Fiction and the Internet of Things

Our research using Design Fiction to consider futures for the Internet of Things is featured by IOTUK

The Internet of Things is beginning to make changes in all sectors, in all parts of the UK and across the world. From applications on the factory floor, in shops, in the doctor’s surgery and...Read full update

Imagination went to play in CeMoRe Away Day- 18 July 2017

Imagination went to play in CeMoRe Away Day- 18 July 2017

The convergences of Cemore's interest on playful methods with the design ethos of Imagination were too many to let pass an opportunity for meaningful conversation. We went for a ‘play date’ that mix sociology and design research through methods like design fictions, board and body games, and playful...Read full update

One Voice to Rule them All

One Voice to Rule them All

As part of our project on House Training the Internet of Things which contributes to the acceptability and adoption stream of PETRAS we have been considering the use of voice interfaces as the medium through which users’ accesses Internet of Things devices.

As part of our project on House...Read full update

Someone Else’s Problem Field

Someone Else’s Problem Field

Imagination research conducted as part of the PETRAS project Adoption and Acceptability theme was recently presented at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

The paper, titled Implications for Adoption, discusses how technology researchers...Read full update

Workshop to Design Storytelling Machines

Workshop to Design Storytelling Machines

New ways of telling stories

As part of our research with young people from Barnado’s towards enabling their experiences to be heard to a wide audience but importantly from their own words we ran a physical prototyping workshop. The aim of the workshop was to allow the young people to design...Read full update

Design Futures through Design Fiction

Design Futures through Design Fiction

Research vsit to EINA, Centre Universitari de Disseny i Art de Barcelona.

Prof Paul Coulton was invited to give a workshop and lecture at EINA in Barcelona iabout his work on ‘Designing the Future’. The workshop and lecture concentrated on the speculative design practice of design fiction...Read full update

Research through Design Article in Design Issues

Articleby Paul Coulton
Research through Design Article in Design Issues

Published in Design Issues is our (Liz Edwards, myself, Andy Darby, Mike Chiasson) atest paper presenting various digital-nature artifacts that were designed to support visitor engagement with nature in a public garden environment. These artifacts are hybridsas they combinedigital and physical characteristics within them. ...Read full article

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