Week 5

Week 5: Life Gamification

This week has been so inspiring in terms of researching how multiple companies use such different design techniques and processes. In terms of designing, I was shocked at how Linear and straight-lined their thought processes and design processes were. Especially in companies where innovation or imagination was involved. I’ve taken a few of the companies and evaluated their different design processes below. However, as I was researching I of course came across Lego’s Serious Play methodology. This led to SO MUCH MORE reading but in a really good way. There were videos and blogs and books all about how play is the most stimulating and inspiring method to bring out ideas. It’s made me realise whether you are a child, teen, adult or grandparent, play will always be a part of us – it will always make us want to explore more. It offers us a multitude of paths to explore and I feel like I am suddenly on the cheer-leading team for TEAM RIGHT HEMISPHERE.

Olafur Eliasson: When I started watching Abstract on Netflix, this was one of the first episodes I came across. I loved his work and his use of light and colour. The one thing that struck me was how he explained his process for working. He starts with the idea. He then finds words for that idea and verbalises what he wants or sees. BUT, he is mostly intrigued by two spaces before and in between the idea and the verbalising. The space before the idea is huge, there’s so much going on and so much inspiration being absorbed. He gets his ideas from collaborations and working together with other people. The second space is in between the idea and the verbalisation. This is where you look at the colours you want to see, where you create the idea in your mind so you can talk about it clearly, this, he says, is a tricky area! He then goes on to demonstrate how this simple idea – verbalisation model becomes something so collaborative and talked about – and then they create the models. The first picture below is a screenshot of his first black line drawing showing his simple ideas model. the second screenshot shows how the sheer amount of conversation and discussion over the idea results in the creation of models.

With regards to Architecture, looking through Heatherwick’s working and processes of Thinking through Making, Schwartz takes this one step further, supporting Heatherwick’s process as vital – “An engagement with the senses is essential to the creation of closeness and intimacy between people and their environment.” We need to ensure we are using our own senses to get across that idea of empathy and encourage others to have the same reaction to a piece of work. Through making and modelling before the final piece we can manipulate and play around with the different textures available, how this would be seen to the world and how we can make it better.

Upon researching how different companies use their own design processes and models, I was hugely surprised to see that the large, corporate, creative companies actually don’t follow particularly hands on or sensory processes. From the below line drawings I have created, it’s clear they all follow a very similar pattern. Similar also to Archer and the Double Diamond: The Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver pattern. This is a very linear way of thinking but can be adapted and changed depending on the organisation or individual.

Here, Disney, Starbucks and Lego follow a very simple but evidently effective plan of designing. It loops back and around until a perfected final outcome can be created. One might say due to the sheer success of these companies, this method is of best practice and is successful. However, it can also be argued that the lack of lateral thinking and physical processes means that it perhaps isn’t a plan that would work for others. Again, does following a plan that is so structured and straightforward completely ignore the right hemisphere?

I have found through all this research that perhaps we are just not encouraged anymore to use this side of our brains as much and, as Gilchrist suggested, it is being increasingly ignored and taken over by the left hemisphere. I found this really reflected in Goffman’s Presentation of Self, we are increasingly using our left hemisphere to over shadow our individual and non-mechanical side to the effect that we are portraying ourselves to others with a mask. Different masks, in fact, for different parts of society. How have we allowed this more structured and manipulative side to mould our societal fears and create different masks for parts of society where we feel we can’t be our true selves.

Our True Self?

During my research into these companies, I decided to follow Lego’s many different design and thought processes. The one that stood out to me the most was in fact a thought process I tried during my time as a school teacher. The one thing I tried to bring into every lesson was the sense of play and interaction with physical objects. Children learn by doing, and at what age do humans stop learning by doing? My own personal belief is that we never stop. But it’s not socially acceptable to crack out your Lego during a team meeting.

Further down this rabbit hole is “Life Gamification” – a process not dissimilar to Carrot and Stick mentality. To break into your imagination and turn any scenario into a game or video game, where you have interesting obstacles and challenges to overcome, along the way you gain skills and points; we give ourselves the carrot. Again and again.

We, as humans, are so into the Gaming industry it’s now apparently larger than both movie and music industries combined. So what a better way to get your colleagues, staff or clients into a given idea than encouraging this creative, imaginative thought process?

My intention with my final line drawing is to follow a basic jumping game (similar to SuperMario). My reasoning for this final piece is that I wanted the game to be simplified, there is no point in turning your problem into a game if it’s not simplified. From the left hand side, you see a “normal” person walking up a hill with a problem to solve or an idea to create. They then enter their “imagination” and they become the main video character. They have a number of jumping blocks to go to, and if they want to get to a higher level they have to get more coins or points. There are some “baddies” along the way (no problem solving process never involved set backs, they happen – that’s life). There’s many different levels within the game and there’s many different aspects that can be explored. As the character jumps between the levels, picking up new bits of information or ideas, they get closer to the solution (the end). The golden door at the end represents the final outcome. However, it’s not always the final outcome and sometimes there’s a Level 2. I again wanted to represent this next level in the sense that life is an ongoing series of tasks. You might have just completed one task but there will always be a level 2. I hope this makes sense, I’ve really enjoyed just using pen and paper this week and using my immediate (System 1) part of the brain to draw the lines or shapes that make sense. It’s been a fantastic exercise in just letting go of your inhibitions and taking your learning back to childhood.

Changes made following feedback:

I received some very positive feedback this week and I was so proud of my development work – I followed through with my initial idea from the start and, despite it needing amendments, was clear in the method and logic in getting to my final outcome.

The group mentioned that it’s not 100% clear in my drawing that this is a looping process, it doesn’t stop, it continues to go round and round – moving up the different levels and proceeding forwards. For me, I connect with this thought process, I don’t feel like we ever achieve our top level – if we keep on running we can run further or faster than we thought we could before.

Therefore this final outcome needs to never stop – Sarah suggested changing the opacity of the three sides to reflect the changes but I know it needs to go one step further.

I decided to use the skills I learnt in Week 3 and create a GIF. This would reflect the constant upping of levels and development:

I started by creating the black line drawing in a digital form – adding colour, digital elements and taking away some of the excess detail.

I then created the whole drawing in digital form and utilised the three elements to create a fun GIF…

I’m so happy with this new final outcome – it’s not necessarily a “black line drawing” but I love the development from one outcome to the next – I can use this thought process and thinking method for future projects to inject my work with the element of “fun”.

Critical making: Exploring the use of making as a generative tool. Volume 13, 2016 – Issue 3. Chad Schwartz


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