Stuart Criley, COO, Founder, Indelible LearningHEALTHCARE
Good games rarely spring forth, fully formed, like Athena bursting from Zeus’s forehead. Instead, much more often, a good game only came together after many, many bad ideas have been tried, and failed. What separates successful game development teams from merely mediocre ones, then, is not that they have better ideas, but that they cycle through bad ones faster than the rest.
It takes courage to leap into a series of rapid builds, followed by failure, when you have a fixed time and budget. In this session, we will discuss why 200 bad builds can lead you to a solution you could not have imagined when you first started. We will use examples from infection prevention, air-to-air combat, and game design. All three disciplines function in environments with complex, rapidly changing states that are difficult to predict, have several competing needs, and force hard tradeoffs that resist a single, all-encompassing solution.
Failure may not be an option when you need to rescue three astronauts halfway to the Moon, but it may be the only sound approach when designing a novel serious game with a truly innovative solution to a difficult problem.
OODA loops, first described by John Boyd, an Air Force fighter pilot, are the kernel of an iterative design cycle: Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. Boyd figured if his decision loop was fast enough, he could beat a superior but slower opponent almost every time.
Two learning games were built by our team using iterative design: Election Lab Online, and the Bubble Beats Trainer. The election game began as a pair of worksheets, evolved into a prototype board game printed on legal paper taped together with Scotch tape, and morphed into a multiplayer online game.
Finally, the Bubble Beats Trainer went through over 200 builds, and many, many rounds of playtesting, to arrive at a solution that would teach players hand hygiene skills to the standards of the World Health Organization.