Reflection of “design is a game” project

l Introduction

Through designing a game, we get to know the basic process and principle of design beyond user study, and experience the practice of design activity. We concentrate on the dilemma of user, and try to solve or improve the problem by a game. It makes the user to discover and study something after playing the game. What they find from the game can lead them feel better or solve problem better when they meet the dilemma again.

We design the game in a group, and our team has three teammates. My teammates are come from different backgrounds and countries. Mikko is a Finnish boy and studied television and film design in Britain before. He gets idea in a special way and always tries to find different settlement from others. Franzi comes from Germany and believes in “just do it”, her background is language and culture and she studied it in Southern Denmark University. I studied and worked on industrial design in china for 5 years. I like rational thinking and am good at computer aid design a little.

l The problem

During the project I met many challenges and the one that most impressed me is making a decision or finding the direction of the project. I found that the principle of making decision changed continually during the project. We got many ideas and concepts, every concept came from a basic principle. Different concepts lead to different directions. We picked up back many concepts which we gave up before. As the project going, we defined the dilemma first. And our dilemma was communication problem between teacher and students.

l The situations

I would like to introduce two situations of our teamwork that demonstrate the dilemma in our process. At the beginning of the project; our 3 teammates sit down around a table and design the basic models of our game. In fact, it is a brainstorming time.

1st situation:

Mikko said: “we need simulate the situation like the real.” and then he drew a model. “There are 3 players in the game. They simulate different people in the real world – teacher, student, and worker – who work with student“, he said. At the same time, he connected players with arrows and made comments. He continued speaking: “In this model there are 2 games – main game and sub game”. He drew 2 circles and a timeline beside the circle. “Firstly, Student plays with worker in the sub game. And then, teacher gets the information about the game from student, and after that teacher inflects and changes the rule of game.” This whole process of design went well, but after that problem appeared. It looked like that Mikko do not satisfy his first model and he said: “I think this model have action of communication, but it cannot solve our dilemma. It concentrates on the sub game but it is not important. ” Then I said We need more communication between student and teacher. And make the game more interesting and more like a game.

2nd situation:

After that another idea came out from Franzi and she said: “I have got an idea, it is a word puzzle game.” then she figured out the game on paper with drawing 2 players and some cards. “Player gets a word card by random. Student sees the word and figure out it to teacher. Of course, student cannot speak the word directly.” She said. I thought a moment, and I figure out the word puzzle game made is good for easier, but the communication blocks between student and teacher is not necessary. “I think this concept is easier than previous one. And we need direct communication between the two players. The most important is making players try more different ways to figure out a situation or event to their advisors or others”. Mikko continue:”Yes, we don’t need set obstruction for communication, and just simulate the real world communication.”

The result

At last, after many other ideas and changes like these situations, we got a right way like the first idea, improved it and made it more interesting. Also we made the game easier by combining main game and sub game to a new one. The game had 3 players still and the basic structure was kept. That means we were back to the start. The first idea was the nearest to the right one.

l Conclusion

At the beginning Mikko did a concept by the initial thinking, maybe at that time he didn’t know what exactly the game was, during the drawing and design, but he found a way to continue the design and complete it. This concept was not ripe, but it had some value to use and go on. Mikko enjoyed his process of design and it was really going very well. The concept which he drew was very clear and had enough comments. In my opinion, just because it went well, we could find more useful things from this idea. There were 3 players and 2 rounds in this first idea and these concepts were kept at last. After that, Franzi gave another suggestion. The process and result was similar with the previous one very much, the same description way, the same response. And it also had the useful part to the final design, it was the easier direction. After the 2 situations, following the same way and method, our work progressed and met many situations like these.

Of course, as any idea appearing, people need find the advantage and disadvantage. Because the start time is for brainstorming, we need more ideas and collect some material first; any suggestion or comment is welcome. However, in these situations, all of our teammates paid more attention on the problem and the lack point of the idea. But after that we didn’t try to review what we have got, just went through follow a direct way. The result is that we just tried to find a new way in a hard work, when a new problem appeared, but forgot some useful ideas which we have got before.

Of course, when a new idea appeared, it always has good value, but sometimes it means a new start and a new perspective to the project. It was not a bad way to approach a better result, but the process needed progress which based on the former work. According to the condition of the project, designers choose the method and procedure. I think the procedure of design need to plan and it cannot go at will or by random, especially if the time is very tense. Brainstorming is very useful, but designer need back to an efficient work finally.

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