NZGDC, pre conference workshop

Mobile Apps Web Applications

The day before NZGDC19 (New Zealand Game Developers Conference 2019), eight workshops were held. I decided to attend one called ‘Designing A Learning Game, You’ll Laugh or Cry‘. The speakers, Richard Durham and Miranda Verswijvelen, promised a hands-on session using their ‘game design canvas’ to “highlight both the framework presented in the lean canvas, how to iterate, and how to align the interactions and goals of your game with the learning.”

The workshop started off with everyone sharing a couple of their favourite games. Although nearly all were online games like Dragon Box, two that were highlighted were Mare Nostrum (depth of strategy while still fun for casual gamers to enjoy too) and Wingspan. Post conference research actually indicated the later may have similar game play as another Viticulture which I have previously enjoyed.

It turned out their canvas looked similar to the Business Model Canvas. Although sections changed to better suit gaming or gamification in organisational settings. Durham and Verswijvelen demonstrated how their canvas helps organisations really focus on the learning goals that need to be achieved while eliminating waste.  The canvas emphasised the importance on having very clear ‘organisational goals’ established at the beginning. This ensures mechanisms and systems created to facilitate ‘game goals’ all contribute toward the desired outcomes. The recommended the following order:

  • Learning Goals
  • Game Goals
  • Game Fabric (setting/environment, time scale, emotional/ethical and/or physical dimensions)
  • Play Experience (what players will do, eg explore/create/compete)
  • Narrative Struggle (where players start, challenges, obstacles)

Narrative Struggle may take some time to explore, but once done the following three can be worked on simultaneously.

  • Decisions (how players navigate/move in meaningful ways)
  • Resources (how players leverage/spend/earn as they make decisions or receive feedback)
  • Feedback (how players receive feedback and from whom)

It was interesting to consider how game-play decisions can help illustrate and reinforce real-world objectives. Launching from that, I’m looking forward to seeing how real-world decisions could be made more game-ful to reinforce organisational objectives in other online settings (eg software). Or even the opposite, are there things software is unwittingly reinforcing through not being well aligned to the outcomes which are actually needed!  The experience people have in software (based on the constrains/boundaries) that organisations are (or aren’t!) providing is what and how knowledge and indeed habits are built.

After all that is established, the ‘Game Summary‘ can be created. Durham and Verswijvelen suggested using this equation to help ensure key aspects were covered.

The <player> preforms <activities> to gain <resources>, overcome <obstacles>, and achieve <goals>, which can be overcome/achieved by learning <how/why>.

Orchid can help you consider how to improve organisational outcomes using gaming techniques/processes in exisiting or new software. Just let us know.

Article written by

Anna Schmidt

- Business Analyst

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