Creative Co-Design

Creative Entrances to Co-Design

Creative Entrances to Co-Design:
Exploring Collaboration through Fiction, Fairy Tales, and Games

Hybrid Workshop at the Participatory Design Conference (PDC) 2022
Tuesday, August 30th, 2022

Newcastle upon Tyne (UK) and Online

Design fiction, storytelling, and games provide creative entrances to co-design activities with different groups. These have emerged from a need to develop joint perspectives, a joint language and technological imagination as prerequisites for participatory approaches and co-design. For this workshop, we invite researchers, practitioners, designers, activists, and everyone working in settings that are socially and culturally diverse, who bring together people of a broad age range and who have tried creative approaches in their co-design activities. Working in groups to co-design and further develop creative entrances, this workshop will explore and reflect upon the potential of design fiction, storytelling, and games to foster creativity in co-design activities and to support (technological) imagination. As a result, we plan to co-host together with the participants a digital exhibition with the results of the workshop. 


Participatory design (PD) processes are characteristic due to the involvement of the user groups in every stage of design [19]. Based on the Danish and Norwegian traditions of PD around the 1980’s and 1990’s, the focus of concern was to advocate for the interests and needs of the workers in the context of different class struggles, by having them participating in different activities and decision making stages as part of co-design. Co-design activities usually-and ideally-require the active involvement of users throughout different ways and stages of design and research activities. Co-design processes also create opportunities for higher user satisfaction [1, 26] increased user awareness and self-confidence [21], enhanced communication, decision-making, and problem-solving skills [14, 18] which can have a positive impact on a variety of attitudes in different aspects of the users‘ daily lives. However, given the variety of voices, perspectives, and ideas among the users involved, as well as the potential appearance of unforeseen obstacles in co-design spaces, the outcomes of participatory and co-design activities can sometimes be unexpected or below the set goals or expectations, if any [9].

Design fiction, storytelling, and games have the potential to be powerful and creative entrances to co-design processes, as their nature allows for (technological) imagination without needing to rely on prior technical expertise and skills. Through the sharing and implementation of concrete techniques and specific scenarios, this workshop aims to reflect not only upon the potential benefits of co-design practices and entrances such as design fiction, storytelling, and games. Further, we want to discuss and reflect on potential obstacles and instances of failure. What have you tried, and you failed miserably?

The theme of PDC 2022, „Embracing Cosmologies: Expanding Worlds of Participatory Design“, provides a well-suited framing for our workshop’s scope, considering the view on social justice, inclusion, and different perspectives on participation. We invite researchers, practitioners, designers, activists, and everybody curious and working in socially and culturally diverse settings. With our workshop, we seek to create a practice-oriented and reflective space exploring answers to questions like the following ones: What potential does fiction, fairy tales and games carry regarding creative and low-threshold entrances to co design? How do we genuinely co-design without enforcing our, often external, perception on people’s realities and needs? How does creativity in co-design look like thinking from the very beginning, before setting up the research design?

Aim of the Workshop

Due to the nature of this workshop’s theme, we intent to co-create a digital exhibition with all interested workshop participants.  Part of the exhibition can be submissions to the workshop, preliminary results from the workshop, future co-design creations can be submitted. This can also be opened for non-workshop designers, researchers, and practitioners to take part in. 

We aim at creating a network of researchers, practitioners, and designers engaging with creative approaches in co-design activities. For the workshop, we will set up a mailing list that shall be used afterwards as well for sharing resources and planning collaborations. Further, we imagine a special issue on this topic in a related journal (eg, ACM ToCHI, Springer CSCW, Elsevier Design Studies). 

Workshop Format and Call for Submission

This workshop is planned as a hybrid event , online and on site in Newcastle. In case of a global rise of Covid-19 infections, we will adjust for an online only event. We plan for a full day event to allow dedicated time to exchange on both participants‘ success and failure stories and lessons learned, as well as space to explore hands-on approaches and activities to foster genuine co-design. We aim at 15-20 participants maximum, and a minimum of 10. 

In your submission, please respond to at least one question of each question collections below. This will help us to better design the workshop to make it an inspiring and beneficial experience for all of you.

Collection 1 // Methodological challenges:

  • Some participatory methods may have a greater possibility of failure than „standard“ methods like surveys, etc. Can we develop a way to turn a „failure“ into a „well-understood failure“?
  • How is being creative a challenge? How do we ‚measure‘ that challenge and anticipate how it will turn out in the communities we work with?
  • What are general struggles you encounter in PD processes?
  • How to we navigate (potential) extractivism and exploitation of the communities we work with?
  • What is ’success’ or ‘effectiveness’ in PD design for the different people involved (designers, researchers, participants, users)?

Collection 2 // Creative approaches:

  • What potential does fiction, fairy tales and games carry regarding creative and low-threshold entrances to co design?
  • How do we genuinely co-design without enforcing our, often external, perception on people’s realities and needs?
  • How does creativity in co-design look like thinking from the very beginning, before setting up the research design?
  • Do you consider your creative approaches to be method innovations?
  • Do we need labels here? If so, which ones seem appropriate to you?

Submissions or further questions should be sent to

You can find the workshop proposal here.

Participants and Submissions

Idalis Gabriela Torres Vargas

Idalis Gabriela Torres Vargas is a Bachelor’s Degree sixth year student at the University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras Campus. She is majoring in General Drama, with a minor in Art and Technology of the Fine arts department. She is currently preparing for the final research of her minor focused in research that will guide her goals and work as an artist and designer after graduation. The topics of research of her interest as of now are: art in education, art in healthcare and the involvement of art in representing mental health. This last one is the topic for her current research in which she would like to build an interactive installation where she represent internal and external factors that trigger and connect when experiencing a panic or anxiety attack. As an artist and designer, she wishes to keep herself open for new opportunities and exploration/transformation of her work. In her personal likes, she has games, spending time with friends and family and always trying and learning new things.

Melis Örnekoğlu Selçuk

Melis Örnekoğlu Selçuk is a PhD student at Ghent University, Department of Industrial Systems Engineering and Product Design. She received my Master’s degree from the Department of Industrial Design, Izmir Institute of Technology and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Interior Architecture and Environmental Design. She has worked as a research assistant in the Department of Industrial Design at Izmir University of Economics from 2017 to 2021. Currently, she is working as a Researcher for the Erasmus+ KA2 project T-CREPE (Textile Engineering for Co-creation Paradigms in Education) and she is involved in teaching activities, especially in co-creation related courses. Her research interests are co-design, the role of facilitator in co-design processes, design education and game-based learning.
Her submitted piece, called Importance of Creativity and Playfulness in Co-design Facilitation, can be found here.

Neil Dixon

Neil Dixon works as a Learning Technologist at ARU’s Student and Library Services directorate. He has run several projects to help people understand the potential impact of near-future educational technologies, including AI eTextbooks and AI assistance in the workplace. He also runs an inter-disciplinary module called Technology Changing us? which explores the unintended consequences of technology.
The abstract of his work piece, called Chatting with a bot: Does AI have a use in HE? and submitted along with Andrew Cox, can be found here.

Andrew Cox

Senior lecturer at the Information School, University of Sheffield, UK. The abstract of his work piece, called Chatting with a bot: Does AI have a use in HE? and submitted along with Neil Dixon, can be found here.

Tahmeena Javaid Adeel

Tahmeena Javaid Adeel is a Ph.D. researcher at National Center for Computer Animation, Bournemouth University UK. Her research focus is on 3d Animation and Game Design. Her work is based on the use of game aesthetics for rehabilitation of patients. Furthermore, she is an educator by profession and works as an assistant professor at Fatima Jinnah Women’s University, Pakistan’s first women’s university.
Her work piece, called Using elements of escapism and fantasy in serious games for rehabilitation of patients with back pain, can be found here.

Mimi Byun

Mimi Byun is a first-year doctoral student in Information Science at the University of North Texas. She is a research assistant for an IMLS-funded project developing an Oral History Forum. Her master's thesis in English covered the works of author Sandra Cisneros using a digital humanities lens and she is a current HASTAC scholar in digital humanities. Current research interests include the scholarly research output addressing the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), computational social science, and metascience.
Her work piece, called Ethics as Play: Video Game Development as Speculative Activity, can be found here. Her workshop submission can also be found here.

Xaroula Kerasidou

Dr. Xaroula (Charalampia) Kerasidou is a researcher in the fields of feminist science and technology studies and media and cultural studies with a special interest in exploring how new technologies challenge us to reconceptualize the ontologies and power relations between the human and the machine, and to understand what this means for ethics, politics, and policy. She currently works on research projects that explore the ethics of AI in healthcare. Her work piece, called Mess, Surprise and Conflict Trying to figure (out) alternative ethical AI stories, can be found here.


Sarah Rüller

Sarah Rüller is a PhD candidate and research associate at the Institute for Information Systems and New Media and the Collaborative Research Center 1187 – Media of Cooperation, University of Siegen (Germany). Along with Konstantin Al, she is working on issues of computer-supported intercultural and collaborative learning, digital literacy, social innovation, and activism, mainly in Morocco and Palestine. They recently published Speculative Design as a Collaborative Practice: Ameliorating the Consequences of Illiteracy through Digital Touch in the ACM to CHI Special Issue on digital touch technology. Through scenario-based fictional stories grounded in ethnographic observations, the paper explores wearable, touch-sensitive technologies to enable digital participation despite different layers of (digital) illiteracy.

Konstantin Aal

Konstantin Aal is a PhD candidate and a research associate at the Institute for Information Systems and New Media and the Collaborative Research Center 1187 – Media of Cooperation, University of Siegen (Germany). He is part of come_IN, a research project which founded several computer clubs for children and their relatives including refugee and migrant populations in Germany and Palestine. His current research focuses on technology appropriation by local communities in the Global South, and topics such as computer-supported intercultural and collaborative learning, digital literacy, social innovation, and activism in these communities.

Belén Giménez

Belén Giménez Ciciolli is a student research assistant and a Human Computer Interaction Master's student at the University of Siegen, Germany. Her research focus is on the intersection of Human Rights and Technology, Digital Literacy, and community-building through the implementation of feminist and decolonial practices within the digital sphere.

Anne Weibert

Anne Weibert is a post-doctoral research associate at the chair for Information Systems and New Media at the University of Siegen, Germany. Her research interest is in computer-based collaborative project work and inherent processes of technology appropriation, intercultural learning, and community building. She co-created Utopia (with)out Technology, a card game about the role(s) of technology in everyday life.

Mark Blythe

Mark Blythe is Professor of Interdisciplinary Design at Northumbria University, UK. He is a design ethnographer with a background in social science and critical theory. His research activities evolved around fiction, speculation, sketching, and games in HCI and interaction design research. Among his most cited publications are Research through design fiction: narratives in real and imaginary abstracts and Pastiche scenarios: Fiction as a resource for user centered design.

Michael Muller

Michael Muller is a research staff member at IBM Research. He is an internationally recognized expert in participatory design and participatory analysis. His work in this area includes the development of methods (CARD, PICTIVE, participatory heuristic evaluation) and theory (ethnocritical heuristics). He is a co-author of Understanding the Past, Present, and Future of Design Fictions and In the Data Kitchen: A Review (a design fiction on data science).

Yasmin B. Kafai

Yasmin B. Kafai is a learning scientist and designer of online tools and communities to promote coding, crafting, and creativity across grades K–16. With her pioneering research on children's learning when programming digital games, she was an early contributor to the field of serious gaming. She is the author of Minds in Play. Computer GameDesign As A Context for Children's Learning, a book presenting a constructionist vision of computer-based learning activities in schools.


[1] Bano, M. and Zowghi, D. 2015. A systematic review on the relationship between user involvement and system success. Information and software technology. 58, (2015 Feb), 148-169. DOI: 

[2] Baumer, EPS, Blythe, M. and Tanenbaum, TJ 2020. Evaluating Design Fiction: The Right Tool for the Job. Proceedings of the 2020 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference (Eindhoven Netherlands, Jul. 2020), 1901-1913.

[3] Berger A, Ambe AH, Soro A, De Roeck D and Brereton M 2019. The Stories People Tell About The Home Through IoT Toolkits. Proceedings of the 2019 on Designing Interactive Systems Conference (San Diego CA USA, Jun. 2019), 7-19.

[4] Blythe, M. 2017. Research Fiction: Storytelling, Plot and Design. Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Denver Colorado USA, May 2017), 5400-5411.

[5] Blythe, M. 2014. Research through design fiction: narratives in real and imaginary abstracts. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Toronto Ontario Canada, Apr. 2014), 703-712.

[6] Bray, K. and Harrington, C. 2021. Speculative Blackness: Considering Afrofuturism in the Creation of Inclusive Speculative Design Probes. Designing Interactive Systems Conference 2021 (Virtual Event USA, Jun. 2021), 1793-1806.

[7] Burtscher, S. and Spiel, K. 2021. “Let’s Talk about Gender” – Development of a Card Deck on (Gender) Sensitivity in HCI Research and Practice Based on a Contrasting Literature Review. i com. 20, 1 (Apr 2021), 85-103. DOI:

[8] Buur, J. and Soendergaard, A. 2000. Video card game: an augmented environment for user-centred design discussions. Proceedings of DARE 2000 on Designing augmented reality environments – DARE ’00 (Elsinore, Denmark, 2000), 63-69.

[9] Constantin, A., Korte, J., Fails, JA, Alexandru, CA, Dragomir, M., Pain, H., Good, J., Garzotto, F., Eriksson, E. and Waller, A. 2019. Expecting the Unexpected in Participatory Design. Extended Abstracts of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Glasgow Scotland Uk, May 2019), 1-4.

[10] Denning, T., Lerner, A., Shostack, A. and Kohno, T. 2013. Control-Alt-Hack: the design and evaluation of a card game for computer security awareness and education. Proceedings of the 2013 ACM SIGSAC conference on Computer & communications security – CCS ’13 (Berlin, Germany, 2013), 915-928.

[11] Dishon, G. and Kafai, YB 2020. Making more of games: Cultivating perspective-taking through game design. Computers & Education. 148, (Apr 2020), 103810. DOI:

[12] Dunne, A. and Raby, F. 2013. Speculative everything: design, fiction, and social dreaming. The MIT Press.

[13] Friedman, B. and Hendry, D. 2012. The envisioning cards: a toolkit for catalyzing humanistic and technical imaginations. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Austin Texas USA, May 2012), 1145-1148.

[14] Guha, ML, Druin, A. and Fails, JA 2010. Investigating the impact of design processes on children. Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children – IDC ’10 (Barcelona, Spain, 2010), 198.

[15] Hanna, J., Ashby, S., Nash, C., Matos, S. and Faria, A. 2020. Manifesto!: Now: Game design for revolutionary thinking. CUMULUS Conference Proceedings (2020).

[16] Kafai, YB 2017. Diversifying barbie and mortal kombat: intersectional perspectives and inclusive designs in gaming. ETC Press.

[17] Kafai, YB and Burke, Q. 2016. Connected gaming: what making video games can teach us about learning and literacy. The MIT Press.

[18] Korte, J., Potter, LE and Nielsen, S. 2017. How design involvement impacts Deaf children. 2017 International Conference on Research and Innovation in Information Systems (ICRIIS) (Langkawi, Malaysia, Jul 2017), 1–6.

[19] Kuhn, S. and Muller, M.J., 1993. Participatory design. Communications of the ACM, 36(6), PP.24-29.

[20] Muller M, Bardzell J, Cheon E, Su NM, Baumer EPS, Fiesler C, Light A and Blythe M 2020. Understanding the Past, Present, and Future of design fictions. Extended Abstracts of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Honolulu HI USA, Apr 2020), 1-8.

[21] Newell AF, Morgan ME, Gibson L and Forbes P 2011. Experiences with professional theater for awareness raising. Interacting with computers. 23, 6 (2011 Nov), 594-603.DOI:

[22] Rüller, S. 2022. Moving beyond illiteracy: Is wearable and touch-sensitive technology the way to go forward?: Reflections on ’speculation‘ and ‚fiction‘ in participatory design with Imazighen in remote Morocco. Sixteenth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction (Daejeon Republic of Korea, Feb. 2022), 1–5.

[23] Rüller, S., Konstantin, A., Tolmie, P., Hartmann, A., Rohde, M. and Wulf, V. Speculative design as a collaborative practice: Ameliorating the consequences of illiteracy through digital touch. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction. DOI:

[24] Skirpan, M. and Fiesler, C. 2018. Ad Empathy: A Design Fiction. Proceedings of the 2018 ACM Conference on Supporting Groupwork (Sanibel Island Florida USA, Jan 2018), 267-273.

[25] Søndergaard, MLJ and Hansen, LK 2016. PeriodShare: A Bloody Design Fiction. Proceedings of the 9th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (Gothenburg Sweden, Oct. 2016), 1–6.

[26] Uzor, S., Baillie, L. and Skelton, D. 2012. Senior designers: empowering seniors to design enjoyable falls rehabilitation tools. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Austin Texas USA, May 2012), 1179-1188.

[27] Wakkary, R., Desjardins, A., Hauser, S. and Maestri, L. 2013. A sustainable design fiction: Green practices. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction. 20, 4 (2013 Sep), 1-34. DOI:

[28] Weibert, A., Aal, K. and Ertl, T. And then everyone can read it…: from the participatory development of a game to the role(s) of technology in everyday life. 3.