Otherworld: Ouija Board as a Resource for Design

The Ouija board is a device to contact spirits from the so-called otherworld. Although it is considered paranormal activity, the way it works rests on ideomotor actions and we argue that the Ouija is a resource for design for the following aspects: It is a 1) collective tangible exploration tool operated by two or more people through a physical pointer that moves, seemingly on its own, around the letters to probe meanings by composing messages. It has been used by artists as a medium ofering 2) creative stimulation to generate material and develop ideas for their work. The Ouija also enables people to express nonconscious knowledge, as research suggests, and thus can provide 3) access to tacit dimension. In this paper, we present the Otherworld Framework that describes its principal elements and provide speculations on how to exploit them in design for collaborative, engaging and unconventional group interactions.

The paper was accepted to the Halfway to the Future symposium organised by The Mixed Reality Lab at the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom. The symposium took place on the 19th and 20th November. My co-author Oğuz ‘Oz’ Buruk and I presented the paper in the Arts and Design-led Approaches panel where Bill Gaver gave a keynote on ambiguity in design. You can see the symposium program here.


Ahmet Börütecene and Oğuz ‘Oz’ Buruk. 2019. Otherworld: Ouija Board as a Resource for Design. In Proceedings of the Halfway to the Future Symposium 2019 (HTTF 2019), 1–4. https://doi.org/10.1145/3363384.3363388