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UX methods – the trading card game

o I just loved the trading card game that Jess McMullin came up with for the IA Summit. It wasn’t just because I won something.

The concept was “Every Summit attendee gets a starter pack of trading cards when they register. You’ll get 16 identical cards, and need to trade to get the complete set of 16 cards. People new to the Summit can also use a Wildcard to complete their set. When you get the entire set, you can go to the prize desk and enter your name in our fabulous prize draw.”

It works on so many levels. It is educational. If you didn’t know what a Page Description Diagram was, well now you had a handy pocket-sized description. There’s competition to motivate you, both in the form of the prizes and just in wanting to beat the smug guy at lunch to the full set. The cards are pretty and tactile. You can shuffle them randomly in boring conference sessions. There are tactics to challenge your brain. Moral choices to be made when you don’t need the card from the girl sitting next to you but she still has 15 wire-frames.

It was a great ice-breaker. It provided an easy way to start conversations (you wouldn’t happen to have’Kano Analysis‘, would you?) and a reason to do so. That said, the social value of the cards deteriorated as people got more ruthless. On the final day I overheard a number of interactions that were pretty much limited to “I can trade you a 9 or a 5, for a 2. I don’t need a 7”. I don’t think those involved even got to the exchanging of names.

I got a pack of ‘Design the Box‘, which might not be on everyone’s list of UX methods but is another one of nForm’s babies. My room-mate and I immediately traded half our packs so I ended up half ‘Design the Box’ and half ‘Usability Testing‘. The advantage of teaching a pre-conference tutorial immediately became clear, as I had a class of 20 to trade with before the conference proper had even started. It still took me most of the conference to get my hands on ‘Swimlanes‘. Many others got stuck looking for their elusive final card and everyone was convinced that the one they were looking for was ‘Rare’. No-one ever conclusively proved that there were less of any particular card.

Written by Karen

April 23rd, 2007 at 6:45 am

Posted in cards,games