Design games

6 Sep 2006 - 9:54pm
1854 reads
Gabriel White
2005

I've been running design games with my team over the last few months,
and wanted to share my experiences and find out what other things
people are doing.

The objectives of the games have been:

- Help better understand design process
- Improve design criticism skills
- Get better at designing under pressure
- Get better at designing collaboratively
- Mode switch - focus on something that's not related to our daily work
- Have fun!

The games are structured around a 20/20 rule - 20 minutes working in
pairs, then 20 minutes together as a group (six people total plus me).

The structure is a vanilla design process

- Heuristic evaluation of an existing design
- Define objectives (target users, tasks, design goals)
- Develop design concept
- Refine design concept

For each stage we have 20 minutes of pair-work then 20 minutes of
sharing and discussion. I've been facilitating the session, keeping
time, encouraging discussion and also sharing my good opinion through
the process. The whole process takes about 3.5 hours, which is a
nicely sized half day diversion from regular work (we tried a two hour
session without the heuristic, and it didn't work so well).

I went back and forth about whether the objectives should come before
the evaluation, but given the rapid-fire nature of the games I think
it's much easier to define objectives once you've focused on the topic
through an evaluation.

Obviously, this game is pretty grounded (it's not in the Bono-esque
provocation world of wacky constraints - we've chosen fairly
conservative topics), but my focus in this case is about building a
foundation, and I felt that these kind of stretches may distract from
core design skills.

What are your thoughts? What other things are you folks doing in this area?

(This site is a great resource
http://www.bplusd.org/2005/11/16/design-thinking-games/, and has
anyone tried the games in this paper
http://trout.cpsr.org/conferences/pdc2004/proceedings/vol_1/p121_Brandt.pdf?)

Gabe

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