Design Thinking with Snakes and Ladders

There's a proper case study in the works for this and a couple of my other TCS workshops so I won't go on too long about it, but I just couldn't wait to share my thoughts on Design Thinking with Snakes and Ladders. 

Snakes and Ladders designed for someone who's all about the aesthetics. 

Snakes and Ladders designed for someone who's all about the aesthetics. 

I love play and games. They form the centre of all of my best work. And there are many reasons why this is so. But one of the elements of what makes up a game is the relative simplicity of it. You can analyse and break down a game easily and then muck about with it to see what changes. Above we have a game of Snakes and Ladders wherein the fundamental play elements have remained the same but the board has been reimagined to appeal to someone who wishes to own a beautiful object. 

 

Snakes and Ladders for brainiacs. 

Snakes and Ladders for brainiacs. 

Alternatively we can alter some of the operational rules of the game to make it appeal to people who want a mental challenge. 

What matters here is not the game itself but understanding two things: 

  1. Design has to speak about intention - who you are serving is key.
  2. You can alter some elements of a design without needing to alter them all. 

Consider this one. 

Bigger isn't just bigger. It's a different play experience. 

Bigger isn't just bigger. It's a different play experience. 

In this version, while there are added elements of the physical challenges on the Do or Die squares, the biggest change to the experience doesn't require any fundamentally new ideas - it's just doing the same thing but larger. 

From this we can see that we can keep the fundamental elements of a game the same and just alter the operational and cultural rules and in doing we change the play experience without having to change the logic of the activity. 

If all this seems a little esoteric then consider this: it isn't only play and games which we can do this to. We just have to see that in life everything is made up of constitutive or fundamental rules, operational or interactive rules, and cultural or explicit rules. 

Once you're thinking this way you can start to redesign anything with a discreet focus on different parts of the system. This is especially useful when thinking about digital experiences where you can really package up and separate out the different layers. 

Plans are in place to recreate this workshop with TCS with some tasty little upgrades along the way. If you're interested to know more, pop me over an email to aran@sabretoothpanda.com.