Tandem Transformational Game Design: A Game Design Process Case Study

Alexandra To, Elaine Fath, Eda Zhang, Safinah Ali, Catherine Kildunne, Anny Fan, Jessica Hammer and Geoff Kaufman

Extended Abstract

In transformational game design, developing a clear, shared vision of how the player should change as a result of the game is a critical and ongoing process. However, multidisciplinary teams, particularly those comprised of both expert and novice designers and researchers, may experience barriers to a shared vision due to disparate vocabulary and theoretical frameworks. Adding a new contribution to the growing body of approaches that tackle this challenge, we present Tandem Transformational Game Design—a process that uses physical prototypes to continuously anchor a team’s shared alignment to their vision and goals. Drawing on HCI practices that emphasize prototyping to discover and reflect, the Tandem Design approach positions the articulation of game goals and the design of game prototypes as intrinsically intertwined, iterative cycles occurring in tandem with one another, supporting one another as the need arises.

We outline the key elements of the Tandem Design approach and illustrate their implementation with our multidisciplinary team’s transformational game project, aimed at fostering greater scientific curiosity as an intervention for youth populations currently underrepresented in STEM. It is our hope that other teams working on similarly ill-defined transformational game design problem spaces can adapt our approach in order to solidify their vision and understanding of their own game’s goals, iterate on that vision together, and ultimately improve the efficacy and impact of their games.