Narrative Experience Design Basics

Larpmaking is not just game design. This is actually not a very strange proposition. For instance, producing video games also involves other disciplines than game design (like music composition, film direction and community management), since the gameplay is embedded in audiovisual storytelling and takes place in a wider entertainment context. Similarly, the game design aspect of larp design is only one of at least four partially overlapping core disciplines of larpmaking: game design, experience design, collaboration design and community design. (“Larp safety” belongs in all of these categories, as I’ll explain in a later post).

Of these, game design in probably considered to be sexiest, also by me, but the BY FAR most useful is the experience design bit. Experience design thinking allows you to take your game design skills and apply them on your job tomorrow, assuming you do something that involves humans behaving in some manner together, and especially if you want them to try or experience something new.

Below is a talk about experience design fundamentals that I gave at the Alibis for Interaction Masterclass last year. “Every character is a main character, whether you’re designing a tax office or a role-playing game”, I observe in this talk, and then go through how the design of physical and social environments allow for different behaviours.

Most of what’s in this lecture will be covered indirectly in this blog over time, but if you want to get a head start, and have 30 minutes, I do recommend watching this!

The talk covers the most important question of experience design, which is incidentally also one of the core questions of all larp design: “You want to ask yourself when you design a experience: what kinds of activities will your participants be doing?”

The talk also explains why there is no such thing as normal behaviour, how echo is a designable surface, the cost of needing the bathroom relative to creative bravery, and how to evaluate the affordance of your social and physical environments. And also, how you should deal with the responsibility of being a god.

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