Recently, I asked a bunch of people I know about experience design — what skills are good to have, what sort of mindset is needed, etc. I got a ton of great answers in, but one set stood out from the rest.
Michael Pucci is the Creative Lead for Imagine Nation Collective, the company behind the post-apocalyptic larp franchise Dystopia Rising — one of the largest larp organisations in the world. He’s also a friend of mine that I admire, and has a way with words. So I felt that it was fitting to share his ten useful tips for being an experience designer.
Also, he has a small cat-person on his shoulder, and who doesn’t like that?
The ten tips are presented in no particular order:
- Design analysis. Being able to see how game design related decisions impact and are dependent on business or outside of game results. IE — How does your design exist, interact with, benefit, or harm real world engagements and situations.
- A thick skin. Creation often has an emotional attachment to it, and being able to hear criticisms (both constructive and toxic) is important.
- Objective perspective. Remembering the scale and scope of the event you are working on to determine what level of investment you should expect from yourself and also what level of investment you are expecting from your participants.
- Understanding ones own limits. The larger the event and the more involved it becomes, the less likely it is that one person is capable of handling all aspects of it. Know where you are weak and work with others who will strengthen the project where you cannot.
- Communication. Having the ability to communicate well, across multiple mediums, and the endurance to continue to make efforts to constantly improve how you communicate. This applies for community, design, and event focus as well as a many other aspects.
- Knowing the scope. The ability to define the scope of what your project is and what your project is not and to tailor your design work to strengthen that focus instead of getting in the way of it.
- Listening. The willingness to listen, learn, and develop new techniques based on where yourself and others have had success and failures.
- Creativity. There are only so many stories in the world, but taking unique vehicles, personas, and scene settings to develop and produce new variants of those stories is vital .
- Willingness to fail. Not every project is going to be perfect and only by taking risks do we move into new realms of experience. Take a chance, accept the potential of failure, and grow from it.
- Seeing structures. An ability to identify the what meta-tools you are building and what aspects of your design are just preferences. Some aspects of design allow for tools for the staff and the participants to guide, build, and augment the experience. Other items a person may put into design work are just personal preferences of play. Being able to see the structural reason for a decision you (or someone else) has made is a huge benefit.
If you want to read more of Michael’s words, I recommend his blog. It’s larp-focused, but a lot of what he writes is also useful outside of the larp sphere.
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