Our workshops at CHI PLAY 2019 and IDC 2020 brought together designers and researchers from diverse backgrounds to discuss how personally relevant cultural traditions can serve as a source of inspiration for play design. To facilitate nuanced discussion, we narrowed the scope of our enquiry to food-based traditions, motivated by three factors: i) there is increasing interest in food-related research in the CHI and CHI Play communities; ii) food rituals often have elements of play; and (iii) food is culturally rich and food practices universally relatable.

Through hands-on co-creative activities, we shared and analysed playful, culturally situated food traditions, and creatively experimented to create novel and interesting play experiences. We unpacked and made designerly use of cultural manifestations of play to inspire technology design. We identified strategies to reflect on the socio-cultural and ethical implications of making use of cultural play in design, ensuring cultural sensitivity and ownership, avoiding over-simplification, stigma and stereotype. We explored mechanisms through which ideas can be vetted by people from the culture of inspiration, and promoted discussion of how to avoid distortions in culturally-grounded play design.

As a result, we produced a pictorial that presents an annotated portfolio of play-food potentials, i.e. interesting design qualities and/or interaction mechanisms that could help promote playful and social engagement in food practices. The pictorial highlights play forms and experiential textures that are deeply rooted in food culture and traditions yet underexplored in Human-Food Interaction (HFI) research. It is intended to inspire designers to broaden the palette of play experiences and emotions embraced in HFI.

More details available on the CHI Play ’19 and the IDC’20 workshop websites.


[workshop outcomes] Altarriba Bertran, F., Duval, J., Márquez Segura, E., Turmo Vidal, L., Chisik, Y., Juanet Casulleras, M., Garcia Pañella, O., Isbister, K. & Wilde, D. (2020, July). Chasing Play Potentials in Food Culture: Learning from Traditions to Inspire Future Human-Food Interaction Design. In Proceedings of the 2020 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference (pp. 979-991). DOI:

[IDC’20 workshop proposal] Chisik, Y., Bertran, F. A., Schaper, M. M., Segura, E. M., Vidal, L. T., & Wilde, D. (2020, June). Chasing play potentials in food culture: embracing children’s perspectives. In Proceedings of the 2020 ACM Interaction Design and Children Conference: Extended Abstracts (pp. 46-53). DOI:

[CHI Play’19 workshop proposal] Altarriba Bertran. F., Duval, J., Isbister, K., Wilde, D., Segura, E. M., Panella, O. G., & Leon, L. B. (2019). Chasing Play Potentials in Food Culture to Inspire Technology Design. In Extended Abstracts of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play Companion Extended Abstracts (CHI PLAY ’19 Extended Abstracts). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 829-834. DOI:

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