The Association for Information Systems Special Interest Group on Game Design and Research (SIGGAME) aims to explore the relationship between information systems and human and artificial playfulness. In 1795, the German philosopher Friedrich Schiller wrote on this: „Der Mensch spielt nur, wo er in voller Bedeutung des Wortes Mensch ist, und er ist nur da ganz Mensch, wo er spielt.” – “Man only plays, where he is in the full meaning of the word human, and he is only there fully human, where he plays.” For humans, playfulness is part of life, in fact, ever since and across the history of mankind, we learned, progressed, and evolved also because (and despite) we play. Games in sports are often a simulation of surviving in nature; social games often sharpen the mental, creative and cognitive abilities – thus simulations of nature’s central selection routine—survival of the fittest—without the risks typically associated with it.
In the digital and artificial age, this area will reach new dimensions, but likewise facilitate our evolution and that of machines. Evidence in this regard is superabundant, e.g. the journal Nature documented how the artificial intelligence AlphaStar reached Grandmaster Level in the strategy game Starcraft II that is real-time and more complex than GO or chess while players operate under incomplete and shifting information. Applications of such learning processes may be applied in autonomous cars, robots, or strategic, operative, and medical decision-making support. Vice versa, accessibility to digital technology and its new applications is facilitated when accordant information systems offer game elements to a human user. Gamification relies on utility arising in human users as a result of game-like routines which can trigger motivation and changed behavior (Degirmenci, 2017) and can augments engagement or inspiration (Kankanhalli, Taher, Cavusoglu, Kim, 2012).
Today, organizations apply gamification methods to motivate employees to provide superior outputs and increase customer or voter engagement; others offer services or products to facilitate the usage of gamification for their stakeholders. Meanwhile, game designers use information systems and their underlying data structures not only to manage game development projects but to increase the effectiveness of the gamification process and improve its outcomes. Thereby, synergies arise and innovations are accelerated which impacts our business environment, e.g. the video game industry fueled the development of computer hardware, but also augmented and virtual reality, technologies that today are found in medical applications or product development. Likewise, game designing companies have developed innovative management techniques that are particularly apt for a highly digital and connected world (Ahrens, Isaak, Istipliler, Steininger, 2019).
SIGGAME aims to investigate and strives to understand the roles of the above topics for business systems, humans, and artificial information systems and the factors that lead to their success. Given the relatively small amount of research focusing explicitly on the relationship between information systems, data and game development techniques, creating this bridge and enabling information flow between the digital game development and the information systems communities is another objective of the group. We believe that independently developed theories of video game development research will enable us to achieve the profound understanding needed to achieve our objectives when combined with the rich body of theories, techniques and technologies for information system development and the (social) sciences at large. Therefore, researchers from both communities are encouraged and welcomed in SIGGAME. After all, playfulness is not a flaw, but something very human. And if it was a flaw, isn’t it our flaws that make us human? Thus, playfulness will further our understanding of how information systems can emerge to be more like us.