Design Games for IA

Having trouble discovering project requirements? Can't figure out the solutions to a design problem? Donna Spencer suggests using design games to have fun while increasing collaboration and gathering insights.

This presentation was given by Donna Spencer on March 20, 2009 at the IA Summit in Memphis, TN. Her website ( explains these games in more detail.

You might also be interested in Jess McMullin's article on this topic.

What games can be used for

Who games can be used with

How to manage design games

  • Anticipate problems and/or confusion
  • Manage/Communicate expectations & constraints upfront
  • Keep it fun:perhaps make it competitive with time pressures and awards
  • Explain clearly (perhaps a 1-page instruction sheet with unintimidating examples to reduce anxiety)
  • Get everyone involved

Games (from web site)

  1. 4Cs
  2. Card sorting
  3. Design slam
  4. Design the box
  5. Design the homepage
  6. Divide the dollar (good for sussing out priorities)
  7. Freelisting (the first items listed are often the most important to player)
  8. Idea cards
  9. Reverse it
  10. Role plays
  11. Scavenger hunt

Games (from presentation and Q&A)

  1. Describe the picture: show an image and have user name/describe it, gathers metadata
  2. Different hats: put on the hat of different brands and design your product from their perspective
  3. Reverse the adjective: take the opposite of the adjective with which you are selling your product. If no one would want to be the opposite, it is not a good adjective to use, as it is too generic and lacks distinctiveness.
  4. Creativity cards: a method for approaching a problem from a unique angle (see Google for examples)
  5. Decision-making rewards: if having trouble getting decisions, anyone who makes any design decision in this game gets rewards (cigarettes, fruit, chocolate, etc.)