"Creative Differences" -- a board game design that I am working on, being tested a protospiel.
Cultural probes have been on my mind a lot lately. Not too long ago I attended a "protospiel" — i.e. a collaborative design workshop for board game designers. I had the opportunity to run playtests for a friend's game. It was a great experience and gave me a chance to, from a different perspective, see designers work. I took a lot of photographs, audio recordings and some video clips.
It occurred to me that it might be possible to use a board game as a sort of cultural probe. For example I could design a board game, bring it to a protospiel and have other designers collaborate to help me with the design. In fact I've already done this. But what didn't occur to me at the time is that I could do this — taking notes, photos or video and essentially use the board game as a sort of cultural probe. In some aspects it would of course not be a probe in the ways envisioned by Gaver and Dunne. But, it's an idea inspired by their work and I think it might be an interesting twist that could be useful for my research.
Can a board game be used as a type of cultural probe? Would I need to design the game in any particular way or could it be almost any design? Are there things I could learn about designers by observing them as I playtest a game designed as a cultural probe? To some extent I have already been doing this. But, I haven't done it with any intent explicit to this notion of "board game as cultural probe." I'm not sure where I will go with this or if I will use this idea. But, I feel excited about the possibilities. In this instance the probe could be a means of examining many aspects of collaborative design.