The world we live in is constantly changing, and there has been a shift toward looking for new solutions to old problems through creative thinking. I have a great interest in social change through social enterprise and the ways in which organizations can strategize to maximize improvements in people’s well being. My work at Tiltfactor has only expanded my interest in making change in the world through creative thinking. As a former Mathematics major, I learned how to break down difficult problems into a series of tractable steps in order to find a solution. I was taught the habit of critical thinking: testing my conclusions to make sure they are based on adequate data and accurate reasoning. As necessary as this thinking is, I felt that I did not “think outside the box” enough. I was challenged but not challenged outside of my analytical thinking skills. I was looking for answers without really developing and acknowledging the ways in which I was getting there. The work I have done at Tiltfactor, especially having the opportunity to participate in game design, has allowed me to dive into my creative thinking and incorporate it not only to my work at the lab but outside of it as well.
One of my most memorable developmental experiences at Tiltfactor has been the opportunity to contribute to a design team. I originally joined the lab to do transcription work and had no experience with designing anything, much less games. I was hesitant initially because I was not sure I had the mind to do it; I never felt I was taught to create something. Regardless, I was put on a design team and worked on a game to address spatial reasoning, a challenging but great experience. At first I made sure I listened to the team; hearing their comments, I saw how their thought process was so creative and not necessarily centered on the most obvious answer to our task. Through that, I began to realize that things do not need to make sense right away and that thinking big and creatively is necessary in order to flesh out thoughts and come across ideas that you would not have otherwise. We created prototypes, asking questions about what game pieces we would use, and we decided on cubes. We began with dice and began play testing internally to think about the ways in which twisting and rolling dice addressed the goal of increasing players’ spatial reasoning skills. We kept thinking and eventually made it a two player game, at which point questions about interactions between players and the element of fun, which is incredibly important, came up. We settled on a multi-player game in which the players’ goal was to match the pattern of dice on a “Masterboard” while also drawing cards that allowed them to move their own dice or those of a fellow player.
Once we had a functioning game, we moved on to playtest with others. I set up playtests with friends and peers to make sure it was a fun but also a challenging game. I will admit that the design and playtesting process was not easy, and it took a lot of thought and time, but it was always a lot of fun. Through creating prototypes and playtesting, a broad range of concepts were generated in order to further develop the game. Overall, participating in the design of the spatial reasoning game stimulated a new way of thinking about challenges and problems.
Working at Tiltfactor has given me an experience I never thought I would encounter. I have never been an avid player of any kind of games and I have played more games since I have started working at the lab than ever in my life. Working with a group that believes that games can create social change and make people question norms has been inspiring. It has definitely tapped into my interest in social justice and creating change in my own community and possibly, one day, even beyond. Tiltfactor has provided me with a first-hand look at innovation and creative thinking through the design of their games, and for that I am extremely grateful.