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  • Writer's pictureGustavo Moreira

"The Right Attitude" thought process (1/2)

Updated: Feb 3, 2021

Last autumn, I had the opportunity to join a team from XAMK in a project to increase gender awareness. I will use this space to briefly explain the whole process, from scratch to the final concept.

1- Researching and understanding the problem

Sure we can agree how society is biased in many things, right? Even in languages that use no gender (Finnish e.g.) we still, unfortunately, catching ourselves in situations where our interpretation is biased. The nurse was talking to the doctor about the politician. Many of us will see the nurse as a woman, the doctor as a man, and the politician also as a man. This is just a simple example out of math/engineering fields but the list sure can get quite big. Biases of course happen in many different layers, levels, professions, and so on. We can change gender for nationality, and we still gonna have stereotypes.

We know that right? But we might not realize how that affects us more than we think. A student perhaps will not even consider a profession just because unconsciously the profession is attached to gender.

I read the project research to understand a bit more of this problem, and also analyzing the data to understand how that affects the educational system for example. How the educational systems are divided in gender, how the fields and expertise are divided, what about equality? Salary? And so many interesting questions raised analyzing the graphics on

The inequality as expected was abyssal, nonetheless surprising.

2- Defining design verbs and personas

To define our personas was the most challenging part at this point. When we talked about the target audience, the first conversation was “30+ Finnish students”. I don´t need to mention how wide is that. We needed to be wide as possible for founding reasons per se. On top of that, the same project was to be used for counselors and teachers.

I didn’t have as much agency here as I wish, so long story short:

I’ve decided to go with 6 personas, being 3 - 2 - 1 (primary, secondary and tertiary audience) and being more diverse as possible with that. 3 students, 2 teachers, 1 counselor.

After creating the 6 personas, I also used the Big 5 personalities threats to see where would they fit on players’ motivation. I actually used Jason Vandenberghe’s “help” with his many GDC Talks about the model. Anyways, ended up being something like this:

Next step, I took my notes from what I was reading when researching, wrote in post its and start to categorize the notes. Those that shared a common subject, common verb, and so on. /* I wish I had taken picture of that. */

I compared the notes with the personas, and here is what was the final “verbs”.

3- Research and playtime

Then I took some time to play some games that came to mind while thinking about the project (Wandersong & Mutazione). But I also this time I’ve decided to use YouTube. Sure would be nice to play all the games myself, so why YouTube?

First of all, I was the only one in the project with “game expertise” to say, no one else was interested in the game industry. So I’ve decided to look for playthroughs with commentary from the player then I could at least have a hint about what other different persons think.

And secondly, to also expand the research on gameplay. Using YouTube, I was willing to see what other videos the platform would suggest to me. And the answer to your question is yes: I did end up being suggested with puppy videos and conspiracy theories stuff. Oh, you mean the other question, yes for that as well, I did end up finding other games that I didn’t know.

4- Conceptualizing

First, the main point was how wide the personas were. So being a casual mobile experience, I thought would be a key factor. Using all the previous researches and material, I came with two concepts:

> Puzzle “talking” simulator (I will call it puzzle)

To deconstruct a bias is important to talk about it, exchange experiences, and create empathy. But simple as it is, to have a conversation is really hard. Think about it: You have to order your thoughts and give them to someone in a way that makes sense to the other person (of course your own thoughts make sense for yourself). Then you receive some thoughts that at first feels different and you have to fit/connect that with your own thoughts. Wait, I think we have a game in here!

If is something irrelevant, or not nice, you might fit temporarily in your brain but at some point you will remove it. If it is something relevant you might want to share and pass forward. If you see where I’m going, is a Tetris-ish game.

Also, we have our own biases. Everyone has their own. For some people the biases are huge and occupy a lot of space, for others the biases are so little that become irrelevant. What one has to do is to shrink a bias. And to shrink the bias you need to understand the others more.

> Interactive graphic novel (I will call it Interactive graphic novel)

My main inspiration was Florence. Florence transforms a mundane life into an amazing story. And how the mechanics are used to emphasize the storytelling, is so beautiful.

Then I also remembered that the project had some short videos where a person that has changed their career shared their stories. A man for example that went from working in a port to find a meaningful life after studying social care, and how at first he pushed that away because of the predominance of women in the field. Same for a woman who became an engineer and all the challenges she had to overcome. And there are at least 2 other stories.

I thought could be a nice differential and a way to create a bigger connection with the player and the story when that would be a real story.

To continue...

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