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It Isn't All Fun & Games

Innovation & Creativity Takes Work - August 4, 2022

Like any creative endeavor, designing a board game takes time, effort, and honest feedback to bring an idea from concept to fruition. For our Multimedia Communications sophomores, the integrated board game project is a chance to learn more about the creative design process while collaborating with students from another shop.

When Multimedia Communications Instructor Ashleigh Mota-Medeiros explained the project to her students, they were excited to work in teams to design and play an original board game. Students quickly learned using the Stanford Design Thinking Framework to identify a target audience, research and develop prototypes, and test and revise before producing the final board game.

This year, eight teams participated in the Multimedia Game Project. Each group created a unique board game that they played with their external audience, Information Technology sophomores, who offered candid opinions. The objective was to work as a team to plan, design, build a new board game, and test a prototype with real users.

Keara Coyle of Bellingham, Arthur Tusoni of Mendon, and Emily Saraidarian of Millville said, "It was helpful to have Ryan Marino of Grafton play our game UP & AT 'EM, which incorporates physical activity, and get his feedback." Ryan said, "They listened to my opinions, and it was a fun game. It got me up and moving. I even did push-ups."

"This project has been a great experience," said Arthur. "I gained valuable insight into the design process. The most challenging thing was coming up with a design of the actual game board, which had to be changed many times to modify the size. We discovered our board was too big to go around it entirely at least once. We also had to make small changes in some of our elements, like the box and instruction manual."

“Arthur, Keara, and Emily weren’t the only team that made important revisions to their game. Other teams made important revisions to their games too. For example, in designing a prototype of their board game, BLITZ, those students had to rethink their box design after testing to fit their game pieces better," said Mota-Medeiros. "I am proud of them and the other teams for not giving up and working through the design process."

Project Overview Using the Stanford Design Process
Empathy – Research/Observe gameplay of existing games, interviews with potential users
Define - Organize research, define the audience, and formulate a problem statement
Ideate - Brainstorm ideas to solve the problem, narrow down solutions, and propose your game idea
Prototype - Create a prototype(s) of the game and get internal feedback (design/typography, content development, project management, meeting the needs of your audience)
Test - Test your game prototype(s) with an external audience (people from the outside shop), collect data, analyze and visualize data/feedback
Prototype II - Make changes to the game based on the feedback from testing
Release - Present the final prototype, share your game with the world/promotion

"Using the Stanford Design Process, our students learn to apply higher-order thinking to design and execute an original idea," said Mota-Medeiros. "They are also able to integrate multiple technical Adobe applications to work on one project, which mirrors the way our software tools are utilized in the industry."

In addition to practicing their design skills and technical abilities, students have to work in a team, which helps them practice vital employability skills such as communication, organization, and time management. Students continuously receive feedback throughout their planning and design process, which allows their team to improve their game and get more comfortable with critique. By using an external audience, our students are able to analyze multiple perspectives and make decisions about their game's design based on authentic data from the testing/feedback process.

"We plan to offer this project each year," said Mota-Medeiros. "It will prepare our sophomores to work with actual clients in their junior and senior years."