Originally the german term Handlungsspielraum is mainly used in the context of politics or economy while describing the variety of possibilities someone has to act, the range of possible actions which he or she can execute within a certain financial context or a range bound to his or her personal capacities. In the context my research instead it describes the space where a user’s actions or play with an object or artefact unfolds. While the English term ‘range of action’ is spotting more the possibilities themselves, ‘lati- tude’ might be the most appropriate English word to describe what Handlungsspielraum wants to express. The reason why the decision was taken to use the German term instead, is the interplay of the three terms Handlung (German for action) Spiel (which means play), and Raum (which signifies space). In particular the double meaning of Spiel/play is significant to the concept of Handlungsspielraum. Whereas on the one hand it can mean play a game, on the other hand it also can describe a little space which allows a mechanism to move (e.g. the steering wheel has a little play). This little space is what interests some of our users by breaking out of the rules and start to ‘move’ or play around. In fact the main thesis of Handlungsspiel- raum is that by positioning our users on a sweet spot between rules and freedom we might expand their range of possible interactions with our artefacts.
Handlung = action
Spiel = play, game
Raum = space, range
Handlungsspielraum describes a conceptual space where people’s playful interactions with objects and artefacts unfold. While it could be translated also with ‘latitude’ the term ‘play’ is preferred in order to describe both, playful activities and the tolerance or ‘play’ related to the precondition of an artefact and the beholder’s interpretation. (like e.g. the mechanical play of a bolt or nut)