Seth Giddings Talk – Designing for Play

See notes in Lectures/Crits/Talks book, green tab labelled Designing for Play, pages 69 – 71.

Today we had an industry talk from Seth Giddings which was useful, especially as we’re in the stage of development and prototyping our ideas in our projects. 


He spoke a lot about his swing project, the Lightbug, which was a magical interactive swing which used light and sound that reacted to swinging in order to get children (and adults) to play.  It was helpful to go through his process of how the team went through the development of the idea. One of the main things I took from this project was that prototyping is key but feedback is super important in order to progress your work. For example, if you get people to test the project or idea, they may do something completely different to what you set out for the player to do. You get to understand the players more and how they play and using this, you could produce a better, more informed sort of game. 

Seth then went on to talk about the ideas of designing for emergent play which I felt was especially useful as we want to create games that get people involved and engaged.

“How do we design something/facilitate more imaginative engagement?” Seth Giddings

This question made me think about how I could possibly apply this to my team’s work at the moment with our ideas. I feel that we’ve become too tech focused at the moment which has meant that we have limited our ideas in some cases. I know that Millie and James are excited to try and use the Vive, however, I feel that we should focus more on the idea process at the moment and then once we have our favoured three ideas, we can think more about the sort of platform we want to use or what would be more applicable. 

One of the final key things that Seth mentioned was to do with user testing again but this time he was saying about what we can learn from user testing as designers. When making a proof of concept and developing this, feedback is key but having a user, someone who is likely to pick up your game (your target audience), actually test it, you can gain quality feedback which can, in turn, create a better-suited game for your audience. 

Team Chat
After this talk, it made me think about how we’re doing the prototyping stage as a team. We’re making prototypes in order to check to make sure mechanics work and are feasible but also we should be thinking about including the user in our prototyping stage. 
Unfortunately, as James and Millie weren’t in today, we had a Skype conversation instead of a face to face meeting about the idea of user feedback and how we can incorporate that into our prototyping stage.
We discussed how we’re to go about picking our three ideas for next Friday. To begin with, we had an idea of the three we thought we would take forward but after the talk with Seth, I felt that maybe we needed to rethink this. Instead of us choosing the three games, we make a survey. We would be describing our seven ideas with a brief narrative and the types of mechanics and movements you can use, then we’d ask people if they would like to play it and give us feedback as to why they would or wouldn’t play. By using our target audience, this could give us an idea of what the market is into at the moment as it would be nice to make something that could be put on the market. By having this user feedback, we can make good decisions on what game idea we use and how we go about designing it for the user rather than just “this is what we want to make so we’re going to make it”.
On the other hand, this could be the last time that we get to make what we want to make, or at least have the freedom to do what we want to do. Therefore, should we think about what we want to do still?
The group has decided that once we get the feedback from the surveys back, we can work out what the clear favourites are (top 3) and if there are any that are drawing with each other, then that will be when we use our creative decision in order to decide what we pick and could do.
We also need to think about the use of our skills – would the top three games chosen be feasible to do with our set of skills? These are all the sorts of questions that we need to think about when deciding on our three solid game choices. 

I also took this opportunity to ask them about my storyboards that I made using the crazy eight technique. I had already asked my classmates and others who are in our target audience (looking at ages varying from 10+ dependant on the type of game – Lucidity and 5 Days would be looking more like a 16 or 18 due to violence etc).
I made a tally chart in my sketchbook on the storyboards to see which story and storyboard people preferred and would like as a backstory.
I was quite surprised with the result as the father and son storyboard was the most popular. This was the backstory where ‘Mac’ the farmer needed a new liver and now can’t pay it off. The loan sharks come knocking and take his son as a blackmail tool,  Mac now has 5 days to repay his debt …

There was a close favourite just one point behind – this was the story where you are a biohacker, which is strictly forbidden in society, and someone knows about it. They then blackmail you into keeping their silence.
I was surprised by these choices as they weren’t ones that I saw as very exciting but apparently, the target audience thought they were which is great. The value of user testing is invaluable and I really need to remember to use user feedback more often in order to cater to my target audience and get critiques on my projects.
The plan now is to take the favourite story forward and refine the storyboard more as a structure for planning camera angles, dialogue and setting. If 5 Days gets picked as one of the popular three ideas then I will invest time into producing this and making a more thorough and developed character design through iteration.


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