a group within a group: My Contribution in the design of the game Deadlines

As our group knows all too well, group projects can be a simultaneously rewarding and testing, yet essential part of the uni experience. This blog is to talk about the contributions of a group who created a game about the contributions of a group… yes you read that correctly, Dayle, Amy, Alicia, Elliot and myself created a real-time card game about project work.

Through an iterative loop of research, rapid ideation, playtesting and feedback, as a group we have settled on our final idea of Deadlines: The Game. Our game is a race against the clock (and your stress-o-meter) to beat the deadline! You may choose to work with your teammates or screw them over for all the glory… the choice is yours.

Our inspiration for this game arose from our discussion as a group of shared interests- we had quite a few! From Hamilton to Harry Potter and pets. The conversation gravitated towards our past experiences of group assignments at uni. As this is what seemed to be quite a passionate topic for our group, we decided to run with it and explore if it’s possible to make a game about a group project fun!

What I think worked well for our group in the first few weeks of ideation was that we had some team members coming at it from a theme perspective while our other members tackled it from a mechanics perspective. Being a creative thinker, I chose to address the game design process from a theme perspective. Retrospectively, I think this flexibility in our mindsets allowed us to synthesise our theme to our mechanics quickly and create a cohesive narrative experience. This reflected the statement that ‘the further along with your theme that you go, the more mechanics you can unlock’ . This was certainly true of our stress-o-meter mechanic which was included, excluded and reintroduced throughout our game design process.

Above is a short video explaining our prototyping process.

While I was responsible for background research in this assignment and for the presentation, I learnt that I need to work quite hard to simplify tasks as I have a tendency across everything I get involved with, as I am passionate about it, to go too far and (as happened this time) I get distracted and end up studying completely the wrong thing that was much more in-depth than what was required.

However, to look at it from a positive perspective, I did gain more in-depth knowledge about our ideal market and the general attitudes towards group projects. I had been researching the hobbies, lifestyles and interests of our ideal players along with gameplay statistics for real time card games. Drawing on my experience as a researcher for Orbispace- previously a social impact game company my boss founded, I had created ideal user profiles without realising they weren’t needed. I think this will be useful information I will be able to draw on later if I find myself in the position of designing games.

I find that within group roles, I tend to take on the responsibilities of the researcher, the proof-reader/editor and the presenter/ speaker positions. This was true for this project also.

Once I had realised I had been side-tracked with my research, I worked hard to get the research back on track, edited the text on the slides, the script and recorded my parts of the script so that Amy was able to put together the presentation for the final YouTube video which you can view below here:

One final insight this project has provided is that I find it hard to chronologically step through the process of our game design. I think this is largely because these steps happen in a continuous, ever-changing loop. Throughout our process we were continuously changing different elements of our gameplay and mechanics, playtesting, design and feedback. I think this is what is at the crux of any good design process while it is also about the flexibility of your team to transition through these stages repeatedly until you create a game you are proud of.

To track this process, I particularly found it helpful to take Richard and Chris’s repeated advice and WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN. I used photos, recordings and my notes to piece together the chronological process- which was extremely helpful!

In conclusion, I hope to be able to bring the profound insights I have gained from both the group work component and the game design process to my future workplace .I have found the concepts and ideas I have learnt in this subject already directly applicable to my job as the community and administrative manager of a performing arts studio.

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