Play = Innovation

Posted June 4, 2014


Play drives innovation.

The above is an ESI design principle, but the actual meaning and its impact on our and your business deserves a bit of unpacking. ESI designer Peter Vigeant spoke on the importance of fun in his talk at Indicade East. Pete spoke about Carl Rohnke and how “fun things are fun” and thus, important. Work through games can be fun and rewarding. Play is experimenting and experimenting is innovation.

At PSFK’s 2014 conference, Jamin Warren extended this line of thinking. Jamin founded Kill Screen, a video game arts and culture organization. Their mission at Kill Screen is to promote video games as culture. Their thesis is that games — all games — should be adopted as valuable parts of our cultural landscape.

During his PSFK talk, Jamin made the argument that games and game play should be used as R&D. Why? Because, he claims, games are desire based use cases for technology. They harness and reveal three aspects of our cultural and social lives: our thinking, our acting, and how we use objects.

At ESI, we would extend that tech focus to most experience based activities. As designers of interaction, we employ game dynamics as research in many projects. Gaming is a way to make ideation and iteration more involved and hands on. It is a real time “choice” factory that can be observed. When games are seen and used as laboratories they can become what Jamin says are, “cultural seeds for new ideas.”

Games For Change realizes this power of games and has been harnessing games for social impact for years. At ESI, we have been developing a game based simulation of the US Senate that will allow visitors to think and act as lawmakers. These types of active and institutional games pave new paths for learning and fun. So go ahead, give fun a try next time your team is struggling for ideas.

The entire talk in which Jamin outlines these ideas in more detail can be viewed here. It is well worth the watch.

ESI Design

NBBJ’s New York experience design studio, ESI Design, transforms places into experiences that seamlessly weave the physical and digital worlds together.

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