The Design of Games, Innovation and Collaboration

Another excellent post on the Knowledge Games blog by Dave Gray working to answer the question, “What is a Knowledge Game?” The post is a wonderful exploration of the nature of knowledge games, but begs the question of how to go about designing these interactions. This is something I started to write about here, but to really get into it requires a little more explanation.

I set out before that in stringing knowledge games together, the designer needs to consider three dimensions progress; the tactical, emotional and conceptual. In thinking through the idea again, I tried to relate my own design process to each of these dimensions, and came to a few realizations. The most common design models I use are the Scan-Focus-Act model and the Creative Process Model, both from the MGTaylor method of designing collaboration. I’m not sure about other MGTaylor practitioners, but here’s what I realized about my design process when I thought about it in terms of these dimensions:

  1. I tend to design for information, first. At its most basic, the Scan-Focus-Act model is a model of information distribution. Scan: Bring in disparate data sources, ensure a common understanding of information across the target group of individuals. Focus: Allow for the reconfiguration of information and prototyping by the group. Act: The best ideas are developed more fully from the prototypes to bring together a working model. In designing this process, I often focus on the development of this information through the lifecycle of the interactions.
  2. While I consider the other dimensions as design considerations, I don’t specifically design them. I think a lot about what the individuals going through the process will experience, and use that as a consideration in the design of the information flow, but I don’t directly design the experience with the same calculated rigor that I apply to the tactical dimension. The emotional dimension is something I’ve thought of as an element you need to make space for, but which is a by-product of other factors and processes. The conceptual dimension I have treated mostly as emergent.

This leads me to the following questions. First, can you design emotional experience? Clearly a great number of artists, writers and filmmakers would argue that you can. But where does that fit within the realm of collaboration design? What models inform the designing of emotional experience?

Secondly, as the conceptual dimension is critical to the ideas that come from collaborative interaction, how do you design for emergence?

To answer some of these questions, I’m going to be writing a couple of pieces both here and on the Knowledge Games blog. First up will be Designing for Emotion, followed by Designing for Emergence. I’ll give shorter treatment to Tactical Game Design, since there’s lots more out there on that, and then I’ll reexamine an approach to bringing the three together. In the interim, ideas and input on any of these questions would be appreciated!

3 Responses to “The Design of Games, Innovation and Collaboration”

  1. Dave Gray
    December 14, 2009 at 11:48 pm #

    Hi Aaron,

    I’m sure I don’t need to say that design is a big broad word with lots of potential interpretations. So I’ll begin by saying that when I think of design for group interaction and experience I am always thinking of design for emergence. Certainly you can design an experience in a very controlled manner such as you might see in a theme park or in a movie, but for the kinds of things we are talking about here, true engagement comes from people who are involved in the process and to some degree participating in the design of it.

    I do think you can do a lot to set and maintain an emotional tone. The setting matters a lot: for example a campfire will generate a very different dynamic than a board room. Music or food change the emotional dynamics, sometimes in profound ways. Even something as simple-sounding as a high ceiling can make a difference.

    Certainly in the conceptual dimension you can make a difference by who you invite — or who you choose not to invite, or by the rules of engagement you lay down in the beginning of an event. I happen to believe informality tends to help.

    A general observation is that the things that are most important in designing for emotional and conceptual emergence must be thought through in advance of the meeting. They are the subtle but important decisions on things like the invite list, the venue, the dress code, the time of day, the food or lack thereof, the duration of the event, and so on. Once the meeting is underway there are things you can do but they are, as a rule, far less effective. Look forward to seeing th set of posts you envision!



  2. Dan Newman
    November 26, 2010 at 5:14 pm #

    I think you can design for emotion. In fact, at the heart of every complex design I work on is the notion that participants must lose their way. They often come to an event thinking they know the ‘answer’ when, as you pointed out in your most recent blog, the trick is to get them to re-think the questions themselves. Part of the purpose of the Scan is to remove the familiar sign-posts of language, business model, role in the hierarchy, etc, so that participants lose track of the question, lose track of the pre-cooked answer they had prepared, and lose track of the protective armor they strapped on before coming into the event. We rely on metaphor* to do this – to transport the participants to an unknown place. And it is precisely because we ourselves don’t know the ‘answer’ that we have the freedom to choose whatever metaphor we like. Our metaphor sends them on an un-expected journey. They get lost. They find their own way back. This finding one’s own way back – individually and together with one’s colleagues is, I believe, the source of the emotional charge that our work gives to participants.

    * in Greek, ????????, to carry over

  3. כסא מנהלים
    September 16, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

    היי הידעתם? ריהוט משרדי הינו כולל שולחן משרדי ושולחן משרדי וריהוט משרד

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