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Game Thinking Fundamentals

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Successful innovations reach a mainstream audience—but they never start off that way. That’s the paradox of innovation that most entrepreneurs fail to embrace - at their peril.

That’s where Game Thinking comes in. Game Thinking is a step-by-step system for accelerating innovation and crafting products that people love…and keep loving. In Game Thinking, you empower your customers to get better at something they care about — like playing an instrument or leading a team. Come to this fast-paced training and equip yourself with the tools you need to create your next breakout hit.

Published in: Design
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Game Thinking Fundamentals

  1. 1. Game Thinking innovate smarter & build deep engagement 
 with design techniques from hit games
  2. 2. Is this you? I want to… • reduce churn and engage my customers over time • test my ideas on the right people and find product/market fit • get better innovation outcomes for my team with a proven process that’s created real-world success
  3. 3. Amy Jo Kim, Ph.D.
 Game Designer, Startup Coach, 
 Author, Educator
  4. 4. I help startups, game studios & global brands build deep engagement from the ground up
  5. 5. I’ve worked on a diverse set of innovative worldwide hits
  6. 6. online marketplace
  7. 7. mobile fashion game
  8. 8. leading digital health app
  9. 9. online toy rental service
  10. 10. +Author 2000 2018
  11. 11. +Educator
  12. 12. Design work for major brands
  13. 13. Some teams I worked with created breakthrough hits
 Others didn’t cross the chasm
  14. 14. What’s the difference between 
 teams that succeed & fail?
  15. 15. The double-diamond approach how to design a product that people want & use
  16. 16. Design Thinking
  17. 17. Game Thinking 5 steps to product/market fit
  18. 18. Game Thinking Step 1: Hypothesize articulate your product strategy and prioritize your assumptions
  19. 19. Game Thinking Quotes “The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.” Linus Pauling Scientist Don’t fall in love with your first idea
  20. 20. Game Thinking Quotes Stage Kill Gate Concept Bank Kill Gate Kill Gate Stage Stage Stage Stage Gate Theory
  21. 21. Game Thinking Quotes Stage Kill Gate Concept Bank Kill Gate Kill Gate Stage Stage Stage Stage Gate Theory
  22. 22. Game Thinking Quotes Stage Kill Gate Concept Bank Kill Gate Kill Gate Stage Stage Stage Stage Gate Theory
  23. 23. Game Thinking Quotes Stage Kill Gate Concept Bank Kill Gate Kill Gate Stage Stage Stage Stage Gate Theory
  24. 24. Game Thinking Quotes Plan your experiment with the MVP Canvas
  25. 25. • x evergreen hit game
  26. 26. Covet Fashion Elevator Pitch V1 We are developing a F2P mobile game based on real-world fashion To help fashion-loving gamers play dress-up with designer clothes Using our knowledge of F2P gaming and female gamers e
  27. 27. Build Your Dream Closet Collect designer clothes ! dress for gala events ! 
 build a lust-worthy closet of stunning outfits
  28. 28. Discover Your Personal Style Glamorous Trendsetting Understated
  29. 29. MVP Canvas BEFORE Young women (18-30) who play mobile fashion games Aspirational dress-up in designer fashion PLUS celebrity stylist advice
  30. 30. MVP Canvas BEFORE Young women 
 (18-30) who play mobile fashion games Aspirational 
 dress-up in designer fashion PLUS celebrity stylist advice F2P co-op game with real-world fashion content and hot trends Vogue alternative – stay up-to-date on fashion by playing – not just looking
  31. 31. MVP Canvas BEFORE Young women 
 (18-30) who play mobile fashion games Aspirational 
 dress-up in designer fashion PLUS celebrity stylist advice F2P co-op game with real-world fashion content and hot trends Vogue alternative – stay up-to-date on fashion by playing – not just looking F2P game experience Existing, addressable audience for fashion games Like/Dislike metrics via interviews with hardcore fashion gamers
  32. 32. MVP Canvas BEFORE Young women 
 (18-30) who play mobile fashion games Aspirational 
 dress-up in designer fashion PLUS celebrity stylist advice F2P co-op game with real-world fashion content and hot trends Vogue alternative – stay up-to-date on fashion by playing – not just looking F2P game experience Existing, addressable audience for fashion games Like/Dislike metrics via interviews with hardcore fashion gamers Young women want a mobile game based on real-world fashion PLUS access to a celebrity stylist
  33. 33. Game Thinking Step 2: Empathize identify your hot-core customers and learn about their needs, habits and frustrations
  34. 34. Game Thinking Quotes “Build something just a few people want - even if most people don’t get it right away” Paul Buchheit Partner, Y-Combinator Find your early hot-core customers
  35. 35. Have you ever listened to the wrong customers?
  36. 36. Finding the right customers
 can determine whether you thrive - or fail
  37. 37. This innovative gaming platform didn't make it across the chasm
  38. 38. This innovative mobile game turned into an evergreen hit
  39. 39. Game Thinking Quotes Innovation diffusion theory EVERETT ROGERS, 1961
  40. 40. Game Thinking Quotes Crossing the Chasm GEOFFREY MOORE, 1991 HASM
  41. 41. Game Thinking Quotes Crossing the Chasm GEOFFREY MOORE, 1991 HASMSTART NOT 
  42. 42. Who to listen to - & who to ignore?
  43. 43. don’t rely on friends & family
  44. 44. or people in your ultimate target market
  45. 45. increasing value over time
  46. 46. Game Thinking Quotes How do we actually do this? MVP Test Speed Interview
  47. 47. Game Thinking Quotes Super Fan Funnel MVP Test Speed Interview Screener x
  48. 48. Game Thinking Quotes Super Fan Funnel MVP Test Speed Interview Screener
  49. 49. Game Thinking Quotes Super Fan Funnel MVP Test Interview Screener
  50. 50. Game Thinking Quotes Super Fan Funnel Playtest Interview Screener
  51. 51. Let’s see how successful innovators 
 find & leverage SuperFans
  52. 52. your super-fans are SPECIFIC to your project
  53. 53. rhythm action nerds who know the basics
  54. 54. simulation enthusiasts who love to make things
  55. 55. Lego-loving families who enjoy sharing photos
  56. 56. Mobile-centric 
 fashionistas
  57. 57. How did the Covet Fashion team identify & leverage their Superfans?
  58. 58. bVisionary Leaders Superfan Screener
  59. 59. Speed interviews
  60. 60. Existing Habits
  61. 61. Game Thinking Quotes If you want to cross the chasm…
  62. 62. Game Thinking Quotes Early adopters Start Here
  63. 63. Game Thinking Quotes Early majority Expand when ready
  64. 64. Game Thinking Step 3: Design sketch out how your customer experience will evolve over time
  65. 65. Game Thinking Quotes Upgrade your user, not your product… make people better at something they want to get better at. Kathy Sierra Author, Headfirst Series Make your customers more awesome
  66. 66. Game Thinking Quotes Mastery Path MASTERY HABIT-BUILDING ONBOARDING DISCOVERY What is this? Is it right for me?
 What’s the value proposition?
  67. 67. Game Thinking Quotes Mastery Path MASTERY HABIT-BUILDING ONBOARDING DISCOVERY How do I learn the ropes? 
 How do I start giving & getting value?
  68. 68. Game Thinking Quotes Mastery Path MASTERY HABIT-BUILDING ONBOARDING DISCOVERY What urge pulls me back? What am I getting better at?
  69. 69. Game Thinking Quotes Mastery Path MASTERY HABIT-BUILDING ONBOARDING DISCOVERY What skills & knowledge have I mastered? How can I leverage that?
  70. 70. Game Thinking Quotes Case Study skill-building feedback repeatable, pleasurable activity progress & investment cues & triggers cues & triggers internal situational external engaged MASTERY HABIT-BUILDING ONBOARDING DISCOVERY skill-building feedback repeatable, pleasurable activity progress & investment cues & triggers cues & triggers Learning Loop
  71. 71. Game Thinking Quotes Mastery Path skill-building feedback repeatable, pleasurable activity progress & investment cues & triggers cues & triggers internal situational external engaged MASTERY HABIT-BUILDING ONBOARDING DISCOVERY skill-building feedback repeatable, pleasurable activity progress & investment cues & triggers cues & triggers Learning Loop
  72. 72. Game Thinking Quotes Discovery is for Visitors Social discovery via friends and colleagues
  73. 73. Game Thinking Quotes Mastery Path skill-building feedback repeatable, pleasurable activity progress & investment cues & triggers cues & triggers internal situational external engaged MASTERY HABIT-BUILDING ONBOARDING DISCOVERY skill-building feedback repeatable, pleasurable activity progress & investment cues & triggers cues & triggers Learning Loop
  74. 74. Game Thinking Quotes Onboarding is for Newbies Learn the ropes with a friendly bot
  75. 75. Game Thinking Quotes Mastery Path skill-building feedback repeatable, pleasurable activity progress & investment cues & triggers cues & triggers internal situational external engaged MASTERY HABIT-BUILDING ONBOARDING DISCOVERY skill-building feedback repeatable, pleasurable activity progress & investment cues & triggers cues & triggers Learning Loop
  76. 76. Game Thinking Quotes Habit-building is for Regulars Customized group chat with emojis, bots, and integrations
  77. 77. Game Thinking Quotes Mastery Path skill-building feedback repeatable, pleasurable activity progress & investment cues & triggers cues & triggers internal situational external engaged MASTERY HABIT-BUILDING ONBOARDING DISCOVERY skill-building feedback repeatable, pleasurable activity progress & investment cues & triggers cues & triggers Learning Loop
  78. 78. Game Thinking Quotes Mastery is for Enthusiasts Launch a channel, program a bot, integrate your app
  79. 79. Game Thinking Quotes Build something people love Create an experience that gets better as your customers become more skillful MASTERY HABIT-BUILDING ONBOARDING DISCOVERY
  80. 80. Game Thinking Quotes How do we actually do this? MVP Test Speed Interview
  81. 81. Capture Key Insights about Customer Habits & Needs When _________ I want to ______________ so I can ______________ trigger activity + goal Job Stories desired outcome
  82. 82. Fashion Browser stay up-to-date on fashion trends Co-Creator shop & dress with a buddy Armchair Stylist tell other people how to dress
  83. 83. Fashion Browser Existing Habit “When I’m tired after a long day at work, I want to kick off my heels, flop on the couch, & immerse myself in a beautiful aspirational world of high fashion. I just wish it could be customized more to me and my taste.”
  84. 84. Fashion Browser Habit Story
  85. 85. Fashion Browser stay up-to-date on fashion trends Co-Creator shop & dress with a buddy Armchair Stylist tell other people how to dress
  86. 86. Co-creator Existing Habit “Patti told me to put these shoes and belt together with this outfit – I’d never think of that combo, but it TOTALLY works. I need her advice all the time.”
  87. 87. Co-creator Habit Story
  88. 88. Fashion Browser stay up-to-date on fashion trends Co-Creator shop & dress with a buddy Armchair Stylist tell other people how to dress
  89. 89. Armchair Stylist
 Existing Habit “I LOVE to get my friends together at my place before heading out, so I can critique their outfits and tell them how to dress better. Those girls NEED me :-)”
  90. 90. Armchair Stylist
 Habit Story
  91. 91. Game Thinking Step 4: Playtest bring your core functionality to life by testing with high-need early customers
  92. 92. Game Thinking Quotes “In a loop, you’re learning a skill & updating your mental model. That’s what leads to player delight.” Dan Cook co-founder, Spry Fox Games
  93. 93. Game Thinking Quotes What’s the right MVP 
 for your engaging product? MVP Test Speed Interview
  94. 94. Fake 
 landing page?
  95. 95. Fake 
 landing page? X
  96. 96. Operant Conditioning AKA 
 Skinner Box?
  97. 97. X Operant Conditioning AKA 
 Skinner Box?
  98. 98. Self- Determination Theory
  99. 99. Game Thinking Quotes MVP Test Speed Interview Skill-building makes customers more awesome
  100. 100. Game Thinking Quotes “Fun is just another word for learning.” Raph Koster author, A Theory of Fun
  101. 101. “finding the fun” = building engagement from the inside out
  102. 102. Game Thinking Quotes skill-building feedback repeatable, pleasurable activity progress & investment cues & triggers cues & triggers internal situational external engaged MASTERY HABIT-BUILDING ONBOARDING DISCOVERY skill-building feedback repeatable, pleasurable activity progress & investment cues & triggers cues & triggers Learning Loop Learning Loop makes customers more skillful
  103. 103. identify your core social actions
  104. 104. identify your core social actions
  105. 105. Game Thinking Quotes all updates & messages read read & respond to updates customize your communications & channel FOMO — check updates FOMO — check updates TRIGGER ACTIVITY
  106. 106. Game Thinking Quotes all updates & messages read read & respond to updates customize your communications & channel FOMO — check updates FOMO — check updates SIMPLE FEEDBACK
  107. 107. Game Thinking Quotes all updates & messages read read & respond to updates customize your communications & channel FOMO — check updates FOMO — check updates SIMPLE FEEDBACK
  108. 108. Game Thinking Quotes all updates & messages read read & respond to updates customize your communications & channel FOMO — check updates FOMO — check updates PROGRESS TRIGGER
  109. 109. Common Testing Artifacts prototype your product with increasing fidelity
  110. 110. Concept Scenarios storyboard people using your product over time
  111. 111. 3-Part Playtest Script warmup, test artifact, debrief
  112. 112. Game Thinking Step 5: Validate distill your test results and create your product roadmap
  113. 113. Game Thinking Quotes “You can use an eraser on the drafting table or a sledgehammer on the construction site.” Frank Lloyd Wright Architect Test your ideas early, in rough form
  114. 114. Putting it all Together What to build? Who to listen to? At what dev stage?
  115. 115. Game Thinking Quotes Game Thinking Roadmap
  116. 116. Game Thinking Quotes MVP BETA LAUNCH EXPANSION ONBOARDINGDISCOVERY HABIT-BUILDING MASTERY Game Thinking Roadmap
  117. 117. Game Thinking Quotes MVP BETA LAUNCH EXPANSION ONBOARDINGDISCOVERY HABIT-BUILDING MASTERY Game Thinking Roadmap
  118. 118. Game Thinking Quotes MVP BETA LAUNCH EXPANSION ONBOARDINGDISCOVERY HABIT-BUILDING MASTERY Game Thinking Roadmap
  119. 119. Game Thinking Quotes MVP BETA LAUNCH EXPANSION ONBOARDINGDISCOVERY HABIT-BUILDING MASTERY Game Thinking Roadmap
  120. 120. Game Thinking Quotes MVP BETA LAUNCH EXPANSION ONBOARDINGDISCOVERY HABIT-BUILDING MASTERY Game Thinking Roadmap
  121. 121. Game Thinking Quotes MVP BETA LAUNCH EXPANSION ONBOARDINGDISCOVERY HABIT-BUILDING MASTERY Game Thinking Roadmap
  122. 122. Game Thinking Quotes MVP BETA LAUNCH EXPANSION ONBOARDINGDISCOVERY HABIT-BUILDING MASTERY Game Thinking Roadmap
  123. 123. Game Thinking Quotes MVP BETA LAUNCH EXPANSION ONBOARDINGDISCOVERY HABIT-BUILDING MASTERY Game Thinking Roadmap
  124. 124. Game Thinking Quotes MVP BETA LAUNCH EXPANSION ONBOARDINGDISCOVERY HABIT-BUILDING MASTERY Game Thinking Roadmap START HERE
  125. 125. Game Thinking Quotes MVP Test Speed Interview How do (the best) game designers build and tune their MVP?
  126. 126. we imagined living out a rock star fantasy…
  127. 127. and started by tuning & iterating a single song
  128. 128. we imagined a doll house come to life…
  129. 129. and started with tiny world-building experiments
  130. 130. we imagined a cooperative dress-up game…
  131. 131. and piggy-backed our ideas onto existing habits
  132. 132. Style Feed for Fashion Browsers I love seeing what’s new, going through my closet, putting together outfits – it’s the perfect way to unwind after a long day
  133. 133. Shared Closet for Co-creators I love raiding my friend’s closet to borrow shoes for my outfit — it’s like real life, only better Patti’s Closet OPEN SLOT OPEN SLOT Tops Bottoms Shoes Bags Jewelry Scarves IntimatesDresses 23
 items
  134. 134. is for Enthusiasts Discover Your Style Attend an Event Make a Collection Browse Your Stream Covet Fashion Journey to Mastery
  135. 135. Invites Waiting Browse New Content Dress for the Event Get Social Feedback Raid your friend’s closet Browse your Style Feed Choose an Invitation Covet Fashion Core Learning Loop
  136. 136. Everett Rogers Scientist, Bell Labs Playtesting Progression who do you listen to? at what dev stage?
  137. 137. Early Majority Closed Beta Friends & Family Team & 
 Department typical play-testing progression 

  138. 138. Early Majority Closed Beta Friends & Family Team & 
 Department Super-fan Community super-fan play-testing progression 

  139. 139. What will Game Thinking do for you? • Create a high-learning MVP* for exactly the right customers • Build an experience people come back to, again and again • Improve your innovation outcomes *Minimum Viable Product
  140. 140. Game Thinking Quotes Stage Kill Gate Concept Bank Kill Gate Kill Gate Stage Stage Stage Prototype to Learn
  141. 141. Game Thinking Quotes Stage Kill Gate Concept Bank Kill Gate Kill Gate Stage Stage Stage don’t fall in love with an idea; fall in love with solving a problem & learning from your customers Prototype to Learn
  142. 142. Game Thinking Quotes MVP BETA LAUNCH EXPANSION ONBOARDINGDISCOVERY HABIT-BUILDING MASTERY Game Thinking Roadmap START HERE
  143. 143. want more? gamethinking.io/playbook

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