Research

Our research focus for 2016/2017 is neuroplasticity. How are our brains actually affected by what we experience? How can we design for better plasticity?


Our research focus for 2015/2016 was empathy. What is the role of empathy in games? Have players felt empathy in games? How could we use games that evoke empathy to bias downstream activities?

In January of 2015, Chris led some seniors at Castilleja School in a sprint to ‘Design For Surprise and Delight’ for their Global Week 2015.

Here are the notes from the design sprint exercise

60 mins total; need whiteboards and dry erase markers; or smooth surface and post-it notes and pens. The times under each section are for the entire section, including explanation, sharing and feedback. So don’t give participants that whole time. Cut it in half for ease (give them 5 mins out of a 10 min stint to design for #1, for example).

The purpose of this exercise is not to teach design. The purpose is to practice empathy; to try and get inside the head of one fictitious person and see how we can move the needle ourselves, without waiting on others. This is about compassion, empowerment and possibilities.
[Start with: “We are going to design something to surprise & delight someone. One thing for one person.”]
[Break up into groups of 3-5 people each.]
1. Who is this person? (10m total)
Tell us about this fictitious person. Who are they? What are their demographics? Where do they live? What do they live to do? What motivates them? Fill them with life. Remember, their name is probably the least interesting thing about them, so don’t get stuck on that. Keep moving!
2. What is their typical Wednesday like? (10 m total)
When they do they get up? What do they have for breakfast? Do they work? Where do they go? Keep going until you get to their evening activities and finally when they go to bed. Make it a perfectly normal Wednesday. You are trying to get inside of their heads and see how they tick. Don’t overthink it!
3. Brainstorm ways to surprise and delight them (10m total)
Now is the time we all grab pens and write as fast as we can. Don’t edit yourselves. What would surprise and delight them? Don’t limit it to easy or hard things. Just write! We are looking for at least 40-50 ideas per team.
4. Group into buckets (5m total)
Look at everything you’ve written down. Find the commonalities, especially around emotions. Group them quickly into buckets. Things like “happy” or “athletic”.
5. Design something! (15m total)
Choose two of your buckets and design something that incorporates ideas from these. It should be something that your group could go do on their own. Make it something meaningful to that person. Think about how you would deliver it to them, how would you maximize the surprise and delight?
6. Prezzies (10m total)
Each team gets 1-2 mins each to present their ideas to the group as a whole. Then everyone gets short and concise feedback from the facilitators and the other groups on how it could be even better. This is a group effort.
[Finish up with a round of applause for their “people” we have created, surprised & delighted together.]
What did we find?
We found that transitioning from an “us vs. them” to a “one to one” relationship was engaging and powerful for the students. They leaned into designing to satisfy one person. And at the same time felt more comfortable about engaging with one person at a time.

Our research focus for 2014 was trust. How do we lose trust? How do we most effectively gain trust once it has been lost?

Trust Framework

trust-framework3

 

Trusted Network/Comfort

Best friends and confidants: here you can truly be yourself

Caution Zone/Uncertainty

Friends of friends, neighbors, co-workers: here you tend to act a little nicer because there are repercussions for breaking trust. Facebook is a good example of this.

Everyone Else/Lack of Judgement

Everyone else in the world: here there tends to be no comebacks, so people tend to do whatever they want.

In order to reduce the size of the Caution Zone, you either need to move people you interact with towards the Trusted Network (trust) or the Everyone Else (anonymity).

But with the advent of social media, we increasingly find ourselves with a fourth position that occupies the space between the medium circle and the large circle. Where we sometimes speak as if we are in a Trusted Network, but we are actually in a space potentially more dangerous than the Caution Zone.

trust-framework4

Danger Zone

Where we think we are speaking to a small group, but really our voice and options can be seen by a much wider group. And the repercussions can be large and sometimes life changing. Twitter is a good example of this.

This is a space where we are starting to see a lot of tribalism as millions of people are interacting together and causing friction of the edges of these disparate networks collide. Unfortunate side effects we have see are people being harassed, threatening or even losing jobs or their livelihood.

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