Hubbub has gone into hibernation.

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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