At a recent team meeting I engaged ALL the departments in a creative development exercise. It required a kind of thinking that was comfortable for some, as it was their day-to-day thinking work and very uncomfortable for the others as it stretched them completely out of their comfort zone. The intent was for all the parts to understand the other parts as they contributed to the whole.
The exercise was to develop a mission where part of the work of the mission required the player engage with the concept of patterns. For the educators in the room, they gravitated toward the question, “What must students understand and be able to do to demonstrate their understanding of using patterns?” The creatives gravitated toward the question “How could our characters engage the idea of patterns within a story with a plot, characterization, and theme?” The business individuals gravitated toward the question, “What is the structure of the overall world and how do patterns play a part in that world?” The gamers gravitated toward the questions,”What are the possible player actions toward a mission goal?” These questions were not handed to them, they emerged through discussion of the overall task. It was very interesting to observe that each tended to see the exercise through their own expertise, while at the cost of the other perspectives. However, the goal of the exercise was NOT to generate a workable mission, but to give the team a Creative Development Experience.
After reading the team’s reflections I’m more convinced than ever that this needs to be a regular part of our work, most specifically as we begin. In order to MERGE the fields we are merging, it is imperative that each department and individual understand the other’s work. Understanding the conversation that happens around the tool expertise grids helps the story developers understand why it is important to address this approximation box in my episode and helps the programmers understand what that box really means as they design algorithms to represent observing it. Understanding how prototype testing is set up and executed for a particular testing reason is helpful for those developing the very item going into testing and different ways testing could be done to give feedback to the developers.
Setting up experiences that preview the work of different departments for a better understanding of the whole is crucial to way for the team to understand both their importance and their place.