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Our approach to design consulting

We’ve been doing quite a bit of work lately that for lack of a better term I’ll describe as “design consulting”. The work is about helping organizations understand how games and play can be applied meaningfully to real-world issues and complex systems.

Part of this is us having conversations with people at those organizations. We try to demystify games—getting to what makes them special and what they do well—and debunk a lot of hype surrounding their potential to “save the world”.

These conversations are essential, but only because they help us get to the important and consequential part: collaboratively sketching and prototyping possible design directions. This is where imagination and invention meet the organization’s goals, the context they operate in, their audience’s needs and wants, the technology and existing products we might be dealing with, etc.

The process is workshop driven, usually consisting of a number of sessions in which we progressively move from understanding the design space, exploring possible directions and finally proposing promising ideas in the form of sketches and playable prototypes.

On our side, one or both principals are involved and we frequently bring in extra folks from our network with expertise relevant to the assignment. People on the client side usually include the product owner, technology leads, audience and/or subject matter experts, etc. If our client already has a production partner, we like to involve them too.

The timespan and effort are usually short and focused: as little as a couple of days spread across one to two weeks. Sometimes less, sometimes a bit more. We’re quite flexible.

This is probably a familiar process to many. Delight and excitement usually results from our hands-on approach, the experience with inventing and building new kinds of play that we bring to the table and our relentless focus on making things that are enjoyable and meaningful to people, that engage their creativity and sense of community.

Recent examples of things we’ve worked on in this manner include:

  • a workplace game about complex safety issues for a global oil firm,
  • data-driven games and playful interactions for one of Europe’s largest dating portals,
  • games integration for the companion website of a nature show on Dutch national television,
  • gameful design principles for a start-up building a career management platform,
  • a game-like training program for workers of an automobile manufacturer’s yet-to-be-built plant.

In other words: the range is huge, which is just the way we like it. If you have something to challenge us with, do drop us a line.

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