Game design

Framework for game design, enhancing organizational development

Design-in-the-large & Design-in-the-small
Design is a key activity in gaming & simulation. As Klabbers (2009) has pointed out, design – broadly conceived – aims at implementing courses of action with the purpose of changing existing (dysfunctional) situations or social systems into preferred ones. For proper understanding of gaming enhancing change and innovation, we have to distinguish two levels of design: a) design-in-the-small and b) design-in-the-large.
Design-in-the-large offers a basis for various forms of consulting, training and education in an attempt to foster new ways of thinking and acting in the context of organizational development. Games & simulations offer effective approaches to the framing and better understanding of social systems and to the generation of ideas and the shaping of action repertoires for change.
Design-in-the-small produces games and simulations (artifacts) as such, and related action learning environments with the aim of modifying existing organizational cultures and structures. Used with that goal in mind, they contribute to the design-in the-large process of social systems.

Games can be designed for dual purposes: a) to generate a practical tool (artifact) for supporting the design-in-the-large, or b) to devise a method or model in the analytical science tradition for developing and testing theories. In both cases games are being used to simulate (to model) existing social systems. Klabbers stresses the fact that members of gaming and simulation associations represent two distinct branches of science: a) design sciences (communities of practice) and b) analytical sciences (community of observers). The basic concept of the design sciences is to build games and assess their effects and usability. The scientific methods of the analytical sciences aim at using games for developing and testing theories. Both communities focus on different notions of causality and use different criteria for success.

Figure: Framework of two interconnected gaming and simulation communities (Klabbers, 2009).

Game design is an iterative process, strongly influenced by the ongoing conversations between the Designer and Client. Design methodology is not a chapter from a cookbook with a series of recipes on how to cook a meal. Game design is a science, an art, as well as a craft. The following scheme offers the framework for the conceptual design of games, as precondition for the subsequent technical design. It provides basic clues about the game architecture.

The iterative design process is illustrated below.

For more details, see Chapter 5 of the book: 

The Magic Circle: Principles of Gaming & Simulation