Time Travel: A method for playful future-oriented user research

Theo Rooden, Paul Eg, Rianne Valkenburg


This article describes the development of a user research method called ‘Time Travel’. The aim of the method is to inform and inspire designers with imagined futures by consumers. The method should give answers to the following question: How do consumers imagine technological and social developments to have an impact on their personal lives (in a certain domain)? An engaging game concept was developed in a research through design process: generative activities alternated with evaluating mini-experiments. The metaphor of time traveling shaped the design vision by presenting elements such as the suitcase (anchoring the imaginations in the here and now), and fuel (informing players about technological and social developments). The ‘final’ version showed opportunities to indeed transport consumers to possible futures. Further development of the method needs to focus on having players actually integrate the information on future developments (the fuel) with their personal contexts. This might be achieved by using the strengths of the game in individual interview sessions with consumers.


user research, human centred design

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