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Design game to provide smart solutions for better ageing

Design stage of the game

Design stage of the game

LiU researchers are now trying to involve the over-60 generation in the development of service design and innovations for better ageing through a specially developed design game.

On October 13, a group of some 60 participants from Italy, Germany, France, Iran, and Sweden will sit down around various gaming tables in an interactive design game at the Tapperska school in Norrköping. The goal is to bring out ideas on how to achieve an increase in the quality of life for those over 60.

“It will be one of the largest design games ever played,” says Stefan Holmlid, a researcher with the Interaction and Service Design Research Group (IxS) at the Department of Computer and Information Science.

The game was developed at LiU over the spring and summer, and is a mix of user-driven board games and role-playing games. It is being carried out as part of a workshop being held in Norrköping within a European network (QLSE) and the Vinnova project ICE.

“Research into how users drive innovation and development is all to often encumbered with market-based thinking or with a strong dissociation from the users. Our research starts from the user: individuals with plenty of resources who want to, are able to, and can be engaged and involved in complex contexts like, for example, social change.”

Around a dozen gaming tables in Norrköping, the users – that is, people over 60 – will sit down alongside various types of decision-makers and staff in order to come up jointly with ideas and suggestions for solutions as to how to increase the quality of life for the elderly.

In parallel with the game, design students from LiU will pick up the ideas that are generated and work on transforming them into concrete concepts.

“The whole process, from gathering the basic data for the design game, through the game contents, to the ideas formed, are user-driven,” Holmlid says.

“The work started in the spring with barely 50 people over the age of 60 in five European cities getting what we call a design probe. Simply put, it’s a kind of diary kept by the participants, with engaging assignments to complete. What we get is how their days turn out, what they did, and what was important for them,” he says.

This ‘design probe study’ then laid the basis for the design game, which was developed with the help of LiU students over seven hectic weeks of summer.

“It’s a kind of role-playing game where pairs of players construct and live as their characters, and are challenged by reality-based scenarios.”

It is played in groups of eight. Each group has to find solutions stemming from their characters’ conditions.

“Take, for example, a scenario where the participants are going to a friend’s birthday party in another part of town. For those with physical limitations, perhaps the biggest problem isn’t that the bus ought to have a stairway that can be lowered, but that public transport in general should work better,” Holmlid says.

Or needing company to feel safe about going out.

The game is meant to be able to reflect many different aspects, from health to social life. Even attitudes towards the authorities are part of the action.

Many forces collaborated prior to the October workshop.

“Besides the researchers we have four Master’s students, six concept designers, 50 elderly, five municipal co-ordinators, eight game leaders, and 60 players hired to make it possible,” says Holmlid, who would like to give additional praise to Lisa Malmberg, the student who prepared the game over the summer.

“A large design game like this is quite unusual. To my knowledge nothing like this has been described, so it will be really exciting to see how it works.”

Therese Winder 2010-10-12

Page manager: therese.winder@liu.se
Last updated: 2010-10-12