Guiding principles and design decisions

by Kate Raynes-Goldie

In between each weekend workshop session, David and I have been working on game prototypes that build on the direction the children have been giving us. Based on the feedback, discussions and play tests that occur during the workshops, we’ve been iterating on these designs and moving towards a final game. Part of this process has also been to decide on some guiding principles to structure or design decisions.

In designing our prototypes, we’ve been guided by the request of our child co-creation team to make a game that teaches trust and risk assessment skills which will facilitate autonomous privacy decision making. To this end, we are aiming to make a game that provides players with the experience of making these choices, with the appropriate scaffolding to guide that decision making process. In this way, players can learn, develop and practice the skills necessary to make autonomous privacy decisions online.

Drawing on the literature on decision making, learning theory and strategic planning (such as SWOT analysis and John Pijanowski’s framework for developing a moral decision making curriculum ) we identified a simplified model of decision making built on information gathering; assessment of pros and cons; and critical reflection. We then looked at ways in which individuals can gather information about websites or other online services:

  • Asking friends about their experiences
  • Asking authorities
  • Checking the websites affiliation/certification with privacy/ecommerce associations
  • Reading news reports and blog posts
  • Reading the Terms of Service or privacy policy
The following questions can then be used to guide the evaluation of the gathered information:
  • What is the motivation or goal of websites? How might that impact you?
  • What is required of you?
  • What are the trade-offs?
To map these aspects into the gameplay of the second prototype (a multidimensional board game), we created player abilities: observation, conversation, research, intuition. Players used these skills by spending ability tokens. However, after a play test, we found these were a bit too “gamey” in that they were fun, but did not give the play the experience of actually practicing those skills. In the third prototype, which I will post about in an upcoming workshop report, we built in the experience of making trust decisions but did not include enough scaffolding to help guide those decisions. We’re now working on the fourth prototype to balance out all these issues.

And lastly, we’re happy to announce we’ve decided on the format of the game: it will be a video game/board game hybrid, with potentially some physical elements. This decision informed by play tests but also a desire to make the game playable as a group while remaining as accessible (in terms of technology) as possible. By using a computer and a downloadable set of cards and game board, the game can be played at homes with a computer, at school or at the library. A board game encourages more interaction and collaboration, as well as enabling a larger group to play with one another. We are also looking into manufacturing a professionally produced version of the game (with nice game pieces, a colour game board and so on) which we can sell at cost and/or distribute for free to schools and libraries.