There’s a reason so many board gamers show up UX events. The same skills that make us great information wranglers are the same things that make board games like Catan, Pandemic and yes, even Exploding Kittens so appealing! It should come as no surprise that we’ve seen prominent UX leaders cross over into board game design (Matt Leacock, Dirk Knemeyer).
If we scratch beneath the surface, there’s a set of shared skills (and struggles) common to these different professions. Specifically: the spatial arrangement of information, visual encoding of information, creating designed spaces, a systems view, playtesting / user testing, competing tensions, triggering emotional responses, and many more.
Okay, so what? Sure, it’s kind of neat that we have so much in common. But how might this change what I do at $largecompany? Here’s the honest truth: The game design profession is just a little bit farther down the road than us, and we have a lot to learn from this group if we can look past the superficial differences. We talk about designing for emotions, but let’s face it, game designers are actually winning at this. Processes? We talk about lean and agile, but game designers have mastered playtesting (and the design to playtest ratio should make us embarrassed at how little we actually iterate with users). And there’s plenty more. I’m confident that if we can look our our own profession through the lens of game design, we’ll see plenty of glaring opportunities for improvement, and a few tricks we might pick up, as well.