Playful affordances in Google Maps: An analysis to the playful affordances in Google Maps and its implementation in daily life.
Schaik, I.C. van
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Google Maps is the number one app used for online navigating. The extensions Google Maps offers, however, are not used for their designed purposes, but serve different functions. It can be stated that Google Maps designs its affordances for the user to interact with a certain, perhaps playful, attitude. James Gibson and Donald Norman both state that there is a difference between ‘perceivable’ affordances and ‘real’ affordances, meaning that perceivable affordances can, in fact, be designed. Furthermore, Miguel Sicart states that for play to happen, the context must appropriate play. Even more, he states that playfulness cannot be designed. Google Timeline, Google Local Guides and Google Earth thus contain affordances that allow for a certain interaction, in order for it to be used for a different purpose. Google Timeline could be seen as a take-over of an analogue diary, Google Local Guides serves as a social network and Google Earth shows similarities to a travel guide. The extensions of Google Maps thus take-over analogue tools, which suggests a shift from the real world towards the online world. However, this shift is only possible because Google Maps allows for a certain interaction. Moreover, because Google Maps is always ready to hand, there is an implementation of Google Maps in daily life. Nevertheless, Nicholas Negroponte states that the online world and the real world are interwoven, instead of one taking over the other. The inherence of Google Maps in daily life could be accused to Google Maps stimulating its users to use Google Maps with a certain attitude. However, it becomes unclear whether this attitude is specifically designed, colliding with both Norman’s and Sicart’s theory. In this analysis, it will be researched how play, playfulness and affordances interact with each other and how the playfulness leads to Google Maps being used for a different function. Afterwards, it can be understood how the online world is situated in the physical world.