I am Steven, and I am a game designer! (experience report)

Written by , in category Engaging Workshops & Meetings

18 October 2017

“I am Steven, and I am a game designer!”

This was how the Innovation Games® Game Design Masterclass started anyway; a hero technique to make people feel they can really pull this off. And what a day it proved to be!

But first things first. Is it just a play, or is it a game…? Is it a serious game…? Is it a serious business game…?

We talk about a serious game when the outcome has a material impact to one or more actors in the game. This immediately means that football for a four year old kid is typically just play, where for a professional football player it clearly is serious stuff. That made sense.

Additional game theory was covered such as the type of players. “I want to beat YOU at all cost” (the Killer), and the “Hey, I just found another path to get to castle black” (the Explorer). There is also the “I’ll play this again, just to have a lap time that is a second faster” (the Achiever), and the “Come on, let’s see how we can team up together to solve this riddle” (the Socializer).

Important to note is that the game Designer is setting the goal based on the expectations the Boss commissioning the game has.

We went in discussing group dynamics in a game such as Gather/Scatter/Gather, Group Parallel, Turn Taking, Build In Turns, Agree/Act.

How can one interact with resources on the game board? What does it mean when resources are clustered, if they are positioned left-to-right, or on top of each other, or …?

And just before all the fun (= hard work…) began, the Game Design Canvas was completely broken down to its smallest part for clarification.

The learning is in the doing. The (serious?) game was on: build an entirely new game for a given situation. You have one hour (with a team of four). Start.

Sweat, sweat, and more sweat… (no tears). But we pulled it off! Both teams!

Both had their goal, the players motivations, a game board, the resources for the game, the rules and actions that could be taken. We had feedback in each game, provided play strategies, and knew how the post-processing for getting the business insights was to be done. There was a view on the thought process, the time frame of action, the needed preparation skills, the game duration and the facilitation skills needed. Just one hour. Just enough for now, safe enough to try.

So we had the joy to play each other’s game to learn from the real experience. Luke Hohmann gave us great feedback on the way we facilitated and on the game itself.

What was explained during the morning, we lived in the afternoon: during the first minutes in the game there is low energy. Let the team got through this phase. Then there is a raise in the team’s energy until it peaks. After a drop, the energy raises and peaks again. Shortly after that second peak, the game has to come to closure.

A fruitful day! One of the results is that we’ll certainly continue developing our game together with the Co-Learning team. We had something with monsters that day. So don’t be too scared if in one of the future sessions we facilitate for you we come up with a Serious Business Game “Destroyer of Monsters”…


I am Steven, and I am a game designer!


PS. Some managers do not want to use “games” at the office. So please do not use the word. Instead Luke proposed the following: “Boss, I want to engage my team in a goal-directed exercise with clearly defined rules of engagement. Progress towards achievement of the goal will be tracked through clearly communicated status indicators. In order to achieve this, we will require some dedicated time with the team, maybe offsite, to guarantee the outcome is aligned with the predefined goal we have set as an organisation. After this exercise, the results will be availble in clear reports detailing the outcome.”… if you can remember…

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