Posted to the Ethnos Project by on December 8th, 2013

This paper puts forth a notion of ludic design, drawing from work in HCI by Phoebe Sengers and Bill Gaver, as an avenue through which ICTD can begin to contend with the historical discourse of the developmental enterprise. This discourse, which we term the “developmental optic,” is one that envisions the subjects upon which it acts—the primary user audience of ICTD projects and services—as perpetually “backward,” perpetually in need of improvements decided upon by a (usually Western) other. Ludic design proposes that “non-productive” activities and desires—the need to have fun, the need for entertainment in one’s life—be taken up as central to ICTD projects, as they provide a means by which the developmental optic may be countered. We look at the approaches taken towards “fun” and the desire for entertainment by three ICTD projects—the community radio project Namma Dhwani, the agriculture extension project Digital Green, and the educational project MILLEE. We then discuss how approaches to affect and ‘fun’ in the field of HCI may be of use to ICTD researchers in trying to reimagine the discursive frame in which their projects function.

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