Gamification Design Thinking

Another day another framework. This time I can’t really lay claim to it though. This is my interpretation of Design Thinking – a very well know framework! I have mixed it with a few well know lenses for innovation – again, nothing new. It is presented here just as an aid for those who may not already be using it!

First, here is the basic process of design thinking

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Gamification Design Thinking Outline


 Step by step:

  • Define and understand the actual problem. Very often the initial brief does not hold the problem that needs solving! Question, question and requestion and if needs be, re-frame the problem totally.
  • Empathise with the various people involved. Design thinking is all about putting the user first. So consider what types of user you will have, this is not the same as User or Player Types, this is what people need from the system. Who are the users, why are they using the system. What does Mavis, 83 from Wales need compared to Dave, 23 from Leeds? Sometimes it is good to survey potential or current users to get an idea of who they really are and then come up with some average users to role play with! Also, don’t forget the stakeholders needs in this. What do they want to achieve by gamifying the system? How will they react to it and your ideas?
  • Ideate – come up with ideas! Propose solutions and then analyse them (more in that in a moment). This is part of an iterative process, at this stage though there is no right answer.
  • Experiment with the best ideas. Pretotype and prototype and do it again until you have something you think is worth taking forward.
  • Test your pretoype or prototype with the target audience and with the stakeholders. Iterate between testing and experimentation until you are ready to release at least a minimum viable product (MVP).  Amy Jo Kim has an amazing course on MVP development actually!
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Gamification Design Thinking Expanded


Whilst this is set out as a step by step process, actually it is iterative. At any point you could go back tot he start, but by the time you are into the experimentation phase, you should have a pretty solid idea of where you are going.

Now this is all great, but even high innovation has to have a reality check from time to time. That being the case there are three common lenses that can often be applied to help drive innovation.

Innovation Lenses

  • Desirability: Is the product or solution you are looking at actually desirable to the users or the stakeholders? It may be great in your mind, but does it actually hit all the points they need?
  • Feasibility: Is your idea actually possible with current technology and skills? Can it really be done?
  • Viability: Can it be done within the constraints that reality often put upon us. Can it be done to budget and is it sustainable long term?
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Innovation Lenses

Applying these lenses to the Ideate, Experiment and to a less extent the Test phases can save a lot of pain in the long term. Really, by the time you are hitting the test phase, you should have a clear view of each lens!


Using this sort of process is very common in this day and age of constant innovation, but it really can help focus your thoughts and designs, especially early on in your processes. Just like gamification should be, it all puts the users experience first.

Let me know if you use it and how you have got on!

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