The Games We Play


The Games We Play (weeks 5-7)
Course Provocateur: Gabriel Harp

Course Description: The Games We Play is intended to provide a general introduction for advanced design students to strategic games (games in which the players’ decision-making skills have a high significance in determining the outcome). The goal of the class is to use strategic games as forms, inspiration, and consequences of information and interaction design.  The course covers three basic concepts: the elements of games, choice architecture, and standards as mediators of cooperation and defection.  The goal of the class is to think and design quickly and creatively based on interactions in the ‘real world’.  The emphasis is on rapid prototyping for effectiveness and learning about design in the context of place.  The course will be graded by student assessments of each other, with minor modification made by the instructor.

Week 5: Games

Mon 9:30-1
Concept…definitions of games, elements of games
Synthesize…examples from experience, workshop on game design

Mon (decide), Tues (design), Wed (document)

Apply…design a game
1. in groups of two,
2. using the theme, tasks, perspectives, and mediums you developed during the workshop,
3. create clear, concise documentation/interaction space for your game so that anyone could play it almost immediately

Thurs 9:30-1
Demonstrations (all documents on blog by 9:30 or credit x 0.5)

Week 6: Information and Biases

Mon 9:30-1
Concept…information and communication models
Concept…sources of bias and nudges
Synthesize…how games, information, and nudges connect

Mon (decide), Tues (design), Wed (document)
Apply…using water demand and decision making, design a nudge.

-Should be an object or 2D form–something visual and durable (i.e. it’s not you hovering over someone’s shoulder).
-The nudge must be ‘inserted’ into everyday practices.
-Focus on a single decision point.
-Must do no harm.
-Do the assignment as individuals.

Thurs 9:30-1
Demonstrations (all documents on blog by 9:30 or credit x 0.5)

Week 7: Cooperation and Defection

Monday 9:30-1
Concept…risk and uncertainty
Concept…peer verification and transparency
Tool…cultural probes
Tool…standards for translation and measurement

Mon (decide), Tues (design), Wed (document)
Apply…find an example, situation, or context where the probability of corruption is high, design an intervention to increase the transparency of transactions using a newly-created standard.
-Do the assignment as individuals.
-Must be a reproducible artifact.
-Use animation or live action video to narrate and document its use and point of intervention.

Thur 9:30-1
Demonstrations (all documents on blog by 9:30 or credit x 0.5)

Grading expectations:
surveys to be turned in at the end of class thursday
(note: While the class will collectively determine the average value for each person’s grade, the instructor determines the weight of that value. Thus, gaming the system may result in manipulation of the weighting, leading to great uncertainty on your part of the final relative contributions to your grade.)

Monday 9:30-1: Were the person present and engaged?

Monday afternoon (CONCEPT): Is the premise sound? Are the situation, decisions, and choices relevant and do they reflect research, reflection, and analysis? Do they have impact? Are they actionable within the time allotted?

Tuesday (DESIGN): Does the artifact make uses of tools and communication strategies appropriately?  Is there evidence of exploration and risk-taking? Does the finished product exhibit a high level of completeness and finish?  Is the artifact accessible by others—i.e. does it work?

Wednesday (DOCUMENTATION): Are all of the requirements accounted for? Do the documentation artifacts communicate and narrate the solution(s) effectively? Does the documentation show a high degree of finish?

Thursday 9:30-1 (PRESENTATION): Are the requirements assembled and complete on time? Is the presentation fluid and well-prepared? Are questions and clarification handled appropriately?

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