Week 6: The Player's Journey

This is a creative work week with minimal tasks from me.

  • Team Baloo: a world in which animals use human technology to restructure society.
  • Team Pumba: mythological stories applied to self-growth as told through the game of Jumanji
  • Team Thumper: post COVID-19 evacuation to the moon
  • Team Timon:  animal kingdom meets zombie apocalypse

Please invest this week with your teams to bring these visions to life.

As we approach the conclusion of ACT02 and your storyworld production kicks into high gear - I'd like to revisit the notion of story structure and design process.

There are story structures (Hero’s Journey, 3 Act Play, Games, etc.) and there are media structures (storyboarding, wire framing, scripting, etc.), but each is very distinct to the media.  Unless we look from 30k feet at experience design - which is what you are doing in your teams right now.  There are numerous formulas for this as well, but the most common thread is backwards design, i.e. we identify the desired outcome and design backward from there.  As a teacher or a trainer, this might be a learning outcome from which you backwards design an activity. As a storyteller in this class, you have a team challenge from which you are backwards designing a storyworld.  

For example, Sage Media's is a corporate training team that produces video based learning experiences.  Their challenge for the HINDSIGHT project, outlined below, demonstrates the process, as well as some creative digital storytelling.  

How do we create training media that requires the learners to engage in the  same behavior during the training, that we are attempting to teach them as a result of the training? How do we create a training where the learning outcome is inherent in the andragogy?

This approach applies not only to designing stories, but also to lessons, courses, web sites, and corporate training like this example.  Really - this is the process of designing any user experience.  

In this context, I ask you to think of digital storytelling is a form of game play. It is role-play world-building, peer support, and team oriented. It is collective co-creation.  I would argue that this form of playful making is often more valuable than the stories themselves.   That is to say - it is more about the journey than the destination.   It is an ancient cognitive process of make, play, learn.

The Player's Journey  (Amy Jo Kim)

This concept is at the heart of the Player’s Journey framework, which is built around designing three key stages of the player’s experience:

  • onboarding – the initial Newbie experience that teaches the ropes and sets expectations for what’s to come
  • habit-building – the triggers, activity loops and feedback systems that turns Newbies into Regulars
  • mastery – the ‘elder game’ that opens up to Enthusiasts who’ve mastered the system and want to go deeper

I like the Player's Journey Framework as a learning design framework because it allows for failure without punishment.  I think it also connects directly to John Seely Brown's (JSB) notion that joining is learning, i.e. playing with a community is learning. The learner can try and try again, ask for community help, and keep trying until mastery is achieved.  This framework gets the universal pains of grading out of the formula.

Games and stories may be based in reality (non-fiction) or they may be complete imagineering (fiction).   Howdy, I'm an easter egg - annotate me to learn more. To illustrate the point, I challenge you to categorize any of the following experiences - are these games, stories, or learning experiences?

This Week's Tasks
  1. Read & watch all of the above.  I've posted some questions for you in the margins.

  2. Check-in with your team on next-steps. Self-organize. You are accountable to one another.

  3. Smile and complete the StoryThing, posted to Slack on Tuesday.

  4. This is a gift of time. Use it to connect and collaborate with your team on your storyworld.

Author image

About Brad Hinson

Teller of stories; drinker of coffee; father of kids; tinkerer of tools; geek. I am an SEHD Assistant Dean, an LDT Instructor, and a ThinqStudio Director @ CU Denver.
  • Denver
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