Weeknotes: 9.2016 – Creating great project manifestos, inspiration from emerging talent

On March 4th, 2016, posted in: weeknotes by

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Various bits and bobs this week from different projects and events.

Lindsey and I ran a “manifesto” session on one project. This is an early stage process that involves as many stakeholders as possible on a project, going through a series of exercises to draw out their assumptions, objectives and fears before turning them into a set of guiding principles.

People have used this exercise to develop objectives and requirements for the briefs as well as decision making frameworks and evaluation frameworks to measure the success of the project later on. It means that everyone can feed in in a constructive way early on, and is helpful for cross departmental buy in.

A great manifesto:

  • is about both what it is and what it is not –
  • is about the why – “players will finish the game understanding…feeling…”
  • may capture the how – to use the analogy of a journey it might state “we will use public transport wherever possible”
  • may capture boundaries – it cannot cost more than x, it must generate a profit of y, it must require no more than two members of staff to…
  • prioritizes objectives, outcomes and desired impact over features, functions or content.

Getting some of these things down in writing at the beginning of a project makes the abstract concrete. The process reveals fears and assumptions and the manifesto articulates project objectives and fleshes them out in a productive list that you can refer back to when it comes to tough project decisions. It’s helpful for avoiding scope creep, too.

Other than that, the discovery phase of our work for Battle Abbey was being wrapped up, which means taking everything learned from initial stakeholder interviews and research and using it to determine the focus for the main piece of service design work.

I had a very enjoyable morning talking about games and museums on Syracuse’s Digital Britain course, in a session which covers some of the same activities as the games workshop I run (another announcement on this coming soon, I hope!). They were a lovely smart group of students who got really stuck in, I think the multiplayer gameplay session went down particulary well (Spaceteam, my workshop staple, never fails to get things off to a good start). They also went through a similar homework exercise to the previous group, with results as before that suggest not all 20 somethings are really crying out for more digital in museums, quite the opposite, in some cases.

Lastly, nothing like seeing the original work of new emerging talent for a bit of inspiration. For this reason, it’s always worth going to see student end of year shows, which is why I found myself last Wednesday at the NFTS graduation showcase. it included the scarily brilliant projects from the Producing Digital Content & Formats Course which I taught on for a day last year (but can claim no credit for any of the finished work!). I recommend checking out their work which included:

  • An impressively realised multiplatform web series called The Grind by Nosa Eke
  • Laid Bare, by Joana Numes (with help from Pav Janda, another student) which got turned in a BBC taster project: “An interactive guide on the pitfalls of social media. If you stalk your exes or bump into your Gran on Facebook you need to watch this.”
  • Astra Pulp, by Grace Baird, “an Augmented Reality comic and mobile game about a time-travelling heroine who meets female STEM role models” (I also found out that Grace did her CV for a job application in Twine, which is BRILLIANT).
  • As well as a gorgeous story game for kids about environmental issues, an app to find the best skateboarding spots and a new online cookery video format.

Worth keeping an eye on that lot, for sure. I also got to play with some of the games students work, which had some really nice stuff in there. I was particularly taken with the picture frame mechanic in Keyframes (museums and galleries, get in touch with that developer, he’s got the storytelling game mechanic you need!).


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