Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering

First Advisor

Seda Yilmaz


Open-ended play is initiated by the child where he/she is in full control of the entire play experience, without imposed rules or external structure. This play experience is rewarding, engaging and desirable for children. It is also valued by parents, educators, and psychologists as it aids healthy development of the child, both cognitively and physically. Despite its proven value, children have been initiating open-ended play less often while their use of digital media devices has become more common. There is an opportunity to encourage open-ended play through interaction design. However, designing for open-ended play is difficult due to its complexity and ever-changing nature.

This thesis explores how children between the ages of 5-12 engage in open-ended play (undefined, unstructured, free play) and how they use digital devices such as tablets or smartphones in their play experiences. It outlines a process children go through when engaging in open-ended play, identifies patterns in open-ended play, and proposes four strategies for designing physical and digital interactions to encourage open-ended play experiences. These strategies are a means for designers to facilitate open-ended play in the development of products, services and systems for children. They can also be used by educators in creating curricula to help the development of self-regulation in young children. Parents can also use these strategies as a means to encourage and participate in their children's open-ended play experiences.


Copyright Owner

Michael Tschampl



File Format


File Size

247 pages