Playing Games Makes You A Better Designer

Playing Games Makes You A Better Designer

Two dice rolling

Matt and Luke re-launch, a collection of games that you can use with users, design teams or stakeholders to provide input to design problems.

Luke and I have been playing lots of games lately.

I’m not talking board games, or card games, or video games—although there is arguably much that we can learn about interaction design from these worlds. No, I mean design games—activities that encourage participants to get involved and get creative.

It’s impossible to talk about group activities that encourage thinking-by-playing without mentioning this book by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and James Macanufo:


Gamestorming started as a collection of activities documented in a wiki (they’re all still listed there online for free, although the structure and descriptions are much more polished in the book version). Also included is some fascinating theory on why games work, and how to best structure design games of your own. I can’t recommend this book highly enough—it really is a great read and an invaluable resource, whether you’re an experienced facilitator or have never run a workshop before.

It was in this book that I noticed a reference to the website It contains its own modest collection of useful design activities for groups, including Design The Box and Reverse It. A couple of other things about this nifty little site jumped out at me at the time:

  1. It was looking a little … dusty. Some PHP errors had creeped in, and it was clear it hadn’t been maintained in a while.
  2. The site’s owner was one Donna Spencer, who not only happens to be one of the organisers of UX Australia, a conference Luke and I are speaking at later this year, but someone who has written an article for UX Mastery.
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We reached out to Donna and asked if she’d be willing to sell us her site. Recognising that we were motivated to develop the site further, she was kind enough to give it to us.

And so we present to you the slightly updated a collection of games that you can use with users, design teams or stakeholders to provide input to design problems.

We’d love to develop this site further. Do you have any ideas for a design game that you’d like to share? Submit it to us, and we’ll add it (and credit you appropriately, of course).

Matthew Magain
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Matthew Magain
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