Musical Embrace is a game that requires close physical proximity and whole body interactions to explore socially awkward play between players. To play, two players are invited to control a pillow, which hangs from the ceiling, with their torsos in order to collaboratively navigate a virtual world filled with sound sources.

Observations from players experiencing Musical Embrace at a number of events suggest that social awkwardness experienced often rises and falls as part of the digital play journey. As such, Musical Embrace’s design draws upon the classic five-act performance structure (consisting of exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement) to examine the experiences of players and understand the way in which social awkwardness engages players as the game progresses.

Musical Embrace is a digital research game that demonstrates how to use social awkwardness as a successful play element to create novel and playful experiences. By exploring uncomfortable interactions such as social awkwardness, this illustrates the potential benefits of social awkwardness and bodily interactions; along with enriching the understanding of what computer games can and should be in the future.