Creating a Game to Resolve Conflict

  • November, 2018
  • Kelly Carpenter
  • what's happening, 
  • games

If you’re committed to the design process, as we are, you know that it’s a never-ending cycle. In this blog, we detail the first five iterations of the Cards vs Conflict game development cycle.

Creating new games can be a long process. Usually, we start with a premise. Often, in the beginning, we would start at the kitchen table.

For this game, we had the goal of creating a game about resolving conflict. Our research determined that conflict arises when a person’s needs aren’t being met. We brainstormed all sorts of ways that our needs mightn’t be met; because someone refuses to help, misunderstands our needs, has their own needs which conflict with ours… We also recognised that our automatic, emotional responses can sometimes get in the way of constructive solutions.

We bashed out a collection of emotional responses and played a low-fidelity game together where one person would read out the reason our needs weren’t being met and the other would select an emotional response from a vast array of cards laid out in front of them. This was a really interesting start and led to some deep discussion. Once we were confident in the idea, we invited our partners to play and give their feedback.

Content that this idea was worth investigating further, we moved onto the second iteration.

Low fidelity testing of our conflict resolution game

To scale the game for multiple players, we put all the emotional responses into a deck, where each player could draw limited cards. We also transformed our basic scenarios into fun, fictional settings that were relatable and understandable, but far enough removed from everyday life to be enjoyable.

Once we were happy with the mechanic of the game, we could go on to expand on narratives and styling.

We tested our third iteration with our test club.

Observing a larger group with our new cards revealed that it was pretty, but needed to function better. We realised that people hold cards splayed vertically in their hands, but our text ran horizontally. We found spelling errors, language barriers, and learnt the limitations for group sizes.

We also confirmed that people besides us and our girlfriends thought that it was fun and useful.

Playing the conflict resolution game with our test club

The fourth version was solid.

We had vertical text, we had synonyms, we had multiple decks for multiple groups, and we had developed a clever secondary thinking exercise that would elevate discussion... The feedback from our Chinese test club members had become especially useful. When we played the game with a class half-filled with international students, it was a hit.

We found areas for improvement, which we think we always will.

Student team building and conflict resolution at University of Adelaide

8 months on, we’ve developed a fifth edition, with some revised cards and a new collection of fictional scenarios.

If you’re committed to the design process, as we are, you know that it’s a never-ending cycle.

We can’t wait to take this game to greater heights and provide the best possible experience for each person that plays it.

Kelly Carpenter, Co-Founder
Written by Kelly Carpenter, Co-Founder

If you’re interested in testing Cards vs Conflict as a facilitate-it-yourself card game, we’d love to hear from you!

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