Challenging Ourselves to Design and Build a Serious Game in under 8 hours!

We often hear about hackathons and codeathons, times when very talented people get together to really challenge themselves, but having never taken part in one myself,  I’ve always wondered how challenging it would be to put yourself in that situation. So I did, but from a design perspective.

PIXELearning recently attended our belated group Christmas Party, graciously hosted by DLM in London. As well as the company presentations about strategy and operations, team bonding was also on the agenda, but I kept thinking to myself, if we’re listening politely to our leaders talk about the company we won’t have any time for getting to know one another, outside of the pub, that is! So together with a few PIXELites, we set about giving ourselves a challenge to design a team building game, that was relevant to the companies and our goals. The added challenge was to do it around our day jobs and all this just two days before the event.

DLM is a growing group and there are many new faces in the company, so we wanted our game to be focused on who we are and what we do. ‘We’ being the entire group! We needed a storyline; one that would appeal to the varied mix of the attendees, and one that was relevant to our industry so we settled upon this: the future of learning is at risk from the so-called “Evil Mr G”, who, having escaped from a high security prison in the future, is intent on destroying innovation in learning.

We had great fun setting this character up; he hacked our blog, invaded our twitter stream and was even interacting with some of our partners. During the event he was publicly shouting about his achievements and was in a twitter battle with most of PIXELearning and DLM.

Playing together in teams, as part of a competition we got to know one another personally as well as one another’s companies, staff and products. So we wove content within the game framework and encouraged players to learn about the companies and gather information about our learning approaches and solutions.

The competitive element of the session, as well as the detail put into Mr G’s back story really did drive engagement and inspire some very creative cheating (no names mentioned).

The game we created was nowhere near perfect, there were many glitches, and gaps, and lots of smoke and mirrors but overall it was a successful session and a very interesting experiment!


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