Actuating myself: designing hand-games incorporating electrical muscle stimulation

Rakesh Patibanda, Xiang Li, Yuzheng Chen, Aryan Saini, Christian N. Hill, Elise Van Den Hoven, Florian "Floyd" Mueller

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperOther


Motor movements are performed while playing hand-games such as Rock-paper-scissors or Thumb-war. These games are believed to benefit both physical and mental health and are considered cultural assets. Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) is a technology that can actuate muscles, triggering motor movements and hence offers an opportunity for novel play experiences based on these traditional hand-games. However, there is only limited understanding of the design of EMS games. We present the design and evaluation of two games inspired by traditional hand-games, "Slap-me-if-you-can"and "3-4-5", which incorporate EMS and can be played alone, unlike traditional games. A thematic analysis of the data collected revealed three themes: 1) Gameplay experiences and influence of EMS hardware, 2) Interaction with EMS and the calibration process and, 3) Shared control and its effect on playing EMS games. We hope that an enhanced understanding of the potential of EMS to support hand-games can aid the advancement of movement-based games as a whole.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI PLAY'21 - Extended Abstracts of the 2021 Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play
EditorsMax Birk, Jo Iacovides
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781450383561
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventACM SIGCHI Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play 2021 - Virtual, Online, Austria
Duration: 18 Oct 202121 Oct 2021
Conference number: 8th (Proceedings)


ConferenceACM SIGCHI Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play 2021
Abbreviated titleCHI PLAY 2021
CityVirtual, Online
Internet address


  • Bodily games
  • Electrical Muscle Stimulation
  • EMS Games
  • Game design
  • Hand games
  • Integrated Play
  • Movement-based games

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