How Are Ideas Connected? Drawing the Design Process of Idea Networks in Global Game Jam

Xavier Ho, Martin Tomitsch and Tomasz Bednarz


The moment of inspiration is described by a rich vocabulary and a wealth of knowledge: the Eureka! moment (Gruber, 1981), the flash of illumination (Metcalfe & Wiebe, 1987), epiphany (Dyess, 1964), and an unexpected stroke of insight (Taylor, 2006; Smith & Blankenship, 1989), to name a few. Many scholars agree that the primary sources of ideas and inspiration are external (Eckert & Stacey, 2000; Fredrickson & Anderson, 1999; Hagen, 2012; Lehrer, 2012; Thrash & Elliot, 2003; Zook & Riedl, 2013).

As ideas are understood and externalised through language, they are being communicated, and on a higher level, synthesised and reused. The notion of an idea network is implicitly and automatically constructed, and we argue this self-construction may be substantially comparable to Milgram’s (1967) ‘six degrees of separation’ phenomenon.

In this paper, we propose idea networks as a tool for design-oriented qualitative research. We will outline the design process to develop idea networks, our rationale of using it on qualitative research, and suggest ways to extract insight from idea networks. The construction of an idea network was first proposed by Metcalfe (2007) for problem conceptualisation and framing.