A case study of a five-step design thinking process in educational museum game design

Paul Gestwicki and Brian McNely


We present a case study in the design of an educational video game about collecting, curating, and museum operations. A five-step cyclic design thinking framework was used by the studio during the design and development of the game, and the team was simultaneously the subject of a rigorous and detailed ethnographic study. Three stages of the game's design evolution are presented through the lens of the design thinking framework. The team's practice-based research is triangulated with our
empirical data to produce four key findings: (a) that empathy for learning context is critical in aligning designs with learning objectives; (b) that meeting with stakeholders spurs empathy-building; (c) that there is a tension between horizontal and vertical slicing that is revealed by design thinking processes; and (d) that iterative design processes challenge conventions of higher education.