Game Design Thinking and Creative Confidence

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Video games are not just coded, but are designed with the player in mind. Game designer Jesse Schell states that the player’s experience is paramount. That is why games are playtested. Perhaps no other business or media applies behavioral psychology to the user experience better than game design.

One innovative design company is IDEO. This Silicon Valley company is a leader of product reinvention, from mobile apps to shopping store layouts. The founder, David Kelley, and his brother, Tom Kelley, published Creative Confidence in 2013. The idea of this book is that it takes bold thinking to be creative and out-of-the-box. The Kelley brothers cite game designer Jane McGonigal for her phrase “urgent optimism” (Kelley & Kelley, 2013, pp. 47-48). In other words, when one plays a game, there is always the possibility of winning (Professor James Gee calls this a “doable” task). Design creativity also requires “permission to fail,” also a major component in gaming (Kelley & Kelley, 2013, p. 49).

TomandDavidKelley-CreativeConfidence Design thinking has crossed over to learning. Design thinking is a “way of finding human needs and creating new solutions using the tools and mindsets of design practitioners” (Kelley & Kelley, 2013, pp. 24-25). Many learning institutions have learning designers on staff. Katie Salen, a designer from New York’s New School, founded the Institute of Play and its Quest Schools. As it pertains to games, it is a “set of skills, competencies or dispositions relating to the highly iterative collaborative process designers employ when conceiving, planning and producing an object or system” (“Institute of Play,” 2013).

The book Creative Confidence contains many “Creative Challenges.” Some of the activities are geared for business, while others can be used in classrooms. All of the challenges encourage out-of-the-box design thinking which is appropriate in any class setting. The book has a web tie-in, called OpenIDEO, where challenges for the social good are posed. The Play Portal in OpenIDEO features student-created game projects. To explore further, IDEO created a downloadable Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit:

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