Designercise: A Creative Thinking Game and Ideation Toolkit
Designercise is the brain workout for flexible and agile thinking!
Designercise is an active ideation toolkit for professional play, designed to increase flexible, agile, divergent and creative thinking through a series of short productive disruptions into everyday thinking.
Based on a unique combination of cognitive sciences and design thinking techniques, Designercise is a set of exercises that helps bust through brain ruts that inhibit creative problem solving. With 3 warm up activities and 20 quick exercises that take 10-15 minutes each, Designercise creates clear gamified experiences that break down and expose cognitive biases, allowing groups to power past mental blocks. All the Designercise activities help to engage players to positively disrupt their ordinary thinking patterns and uncover their hidden creative genius!
In NYC and want to experience Designercise in action? We are running regular 1 hour classes during the campaign!
There are 20 base exercises that we have designed. Each one enhances storytelling, design thinking, improvisation and flexible thinking skills, while also creating a high energy environment for collaboration and creative problem solving. We were inspired by a range of common cognitive biases and creative thinking inhibitors-- we noticed that the more aware of them we were, the more empowered we were to move beyond them and think of innovative ideas and solutions. Combining these with tried and tested methods for unleashing creative thinking through ideation and gamified environments, we created a range of fun, easy to play, mental interventions that rapidly bust through creative barriers.
The full deluxe kit comes with the beautiful selector roulette wheel, to help make deciding which game to play easier!
3 examples of Designercise exercises based on cognitive sciences and design thinking are:
In the game "Wheel of Perception," players break down obvious stereotypes quickly and then start to mine the more obscure ones, unpacking a wide range of ideas, stereotypes and probabilities. Next the spinning top is spun to select a product, service, system, campaign, or behavior, and the group conspires to conjure up solutions. Thanks to the framing of the issue and the collaborative development of a resolution, groups think up incredible divergent solutions while playing Wheel of Perceptions.
Another great small group exercise is "But/So Roadblock":
For context, here is an example of a play that happened: The first player got the “I’m trying to buy toilet paper” card and made that statement. Another player said, “BUT you have no money” and so the first player came back with, “SO I ask someone to borrow money.” Then another player chimed in with,“BUT you are unable to speak suddenly." The game went on until the first player successfully presented a scenario that overcame all the roadblocks thrown at her by other players. In this case, despite no money, not being able to talk, finding herself in the desert, and her camel getting lost, the first player succeeded by stumbling upon a marketplace and trading her shirt for toilet paper before more obstacles could arise.
Perfect for educational and professional settings, and a must-have for any facilitator, Designercise is unlike any other professional play-based brain-activator on the market (Actually, we don't know of any others! Correct us if we are wrong!).
Designercise is a product developed by Disrupt Design LLC and is the co-creation of Dr. Leyla Acaroglu and Yvette King, two creative protagonists/practitioners who see play as a foundational way of enhancing flexible thinking powers. They are also into doing this partner kick thing:
Leyla is an award winning game designer, sociologist and has a PhD in designing disruptive interventions for positive social change. She is also the founder of the Un-School of Disruptive Design in NYC. Yvette is an artist, maker and lover of all things weird and creative-- she works to bring a unique creative edge to all the experiences at the Un-School. Together they form a dynamic duo of high octane creative energy that has been known to cause severe laughing fits, to stimulate excessive smiling and to help people break through the walls of cognitive biases that inhibit creative thinking. Leyla is well known for her gamified experiences and creative approach to solving problems. Her TED talk from 2013 has been viewed by over 1 million people and she has been invited to teach in universities and companies around the world. She has drawn on all of these diverse experiences to create, in collaboration with Yvette, a super fun and engaging toolkit that helps anyone become a divergent and creative thinker!
We created Designercise to be a mental workout for your brain! It struck us as odd that though some people go to the gym at lunch time to exercise their body, we still don’t have tools to help exercise what is arguably the most important part of our body: our brain! Designercise is a remedy for this-- a toolkit full of unique options to help any professional bust through cognitive biases and brain-slumps. The set of 20+ brain exercises provides easy to play group activities that facilitate creative, divergent and flexible thinking so that you can tackle any problem! We came up with this idea for getting people unstuck whilst we were, literally, stuck on a subway!
Standing there in a stinky, sardine-can packed out subway car, we started bouncing ideas back and forth about problems and how people do or don’t get around to solving them. We’re both really into gamifying experiences and with Leyla having produced a bunch of games before, we started to hatch a plan to experimentally develop a range of quick, easy to play games that would bust through cognitive biases that inhibit creative problem solving. We had the name before we had any of the exercises sorted, but the idea behind Designercise was strong from the start; to bring designer approaches for generating ideas into any situation, and to break through the barriers of everyday cognitive biases through creative play.
After we got off the subway we hatched a plan and every other week for several months we ran small Desigerncise sessions at NYC co-working spaces-- developing and testing games, methods and activities with people from a wide range of professional backgrounds. Our weekly players started asking where they could get the games and eventually we had a big enough arsenal of games, inspired by Design, Storytelling, Improvisation and Cognitive Sciences, to start building the full ideation toolkit. Thanks to lots of participants' feedback, we decided to also offer a range of smaller, more focused kits; Storytelling, Flexible Thinking, Improvisation and Design Thinking. We have playtested and refined the Designercise exercises with over 200 people. The final Deluxe Kit and smaller themed kits are super easy to play and highly effective at engaging even the most bored office workers!
We designed Designercise to be highly adaptive to many different settings. There is literally a game for every group scenario-- for boring office meetings, creative brainstorm sessions, and large group activities such as conferences and seminars (to name a few). We also really want Desigerncise to be the kind of thing that groups of people will bust out over their lunch breaks at work, challenging colleagues to come up with the most wacky and wonderful ideas! Here are the main people we designed Designercise for: facilitators, educators, designers, managers, engineers, scientists, co-working spaces, design studios, accelerators, incubators.
*Designercise is currently only available in English and is designed for adults. Our stretch goals include creating kid-friendly educational versions as well as multilingual editions, beginning with Spanish!
The full deluxe Designercise Ideation Toolkit includes:
- 20 productivity boosting exercises, each of which take 10-15 minutes to play
- 3 team building warm ups
- 11 decks of play cards (with 20 cards in each deck)
- 2 roulette spinning wheels
- 1 wooden spinner
- 1 full ‘how to play’ pack
- OPTIONAL EXTRA: Handbook with Tips and Tricks for Activating Any Room by Leyla Acaroglu
There are four smaller Designercise Boxed Kits, each includes:
- 4 different decks of cards (with 20 cards in each deck)
- An instruction sheet for how to play the 5 games + the 3 warm ups
- Each kit has a different set of cards and different games
We will use it to hit *print* on the production presses! We have a great manufacturer in Mexico City that we have been working with to sustainably produce the full deluxe and small Designercise Kits. We are using all post consumer waste or certified materials for production and, of course, all ethical labor. We made the choice to produce in a location where we can manage and check the production process to ensure that its ethical and positive for the local economy. Everything is ready to go to production as soon as we reach our goal -- we can start producing and have all kits shipped by early December so that backers can get their kits for the holidays!
If we reach our stretch goals we will translate and produce Designercise in other languages based on preferences: Spanish, French, Italian, even Australian (ha!). We will also create an educational kit designed for a younger crowd and appropriate for middle school aged kids (currently there are some cards that are not really for meant for the kids-- this makes it more fun for adults to play!). If we meet our stretch goals, we will get cracking on the educational and multi-lingual kits and try to get them printed within the first half of the new year!
If we do AMAZINGLY well (like, “WOW look at all this cash! We’ve already created the multilingual editions and a kit for the kids and we’ve still got a bundle of money we can burn on helping people play their way to divergent thinking and creative solutions!” well), with your support, we will even consider producing an app. Yes, if our supporters make it rain we’ll add app to the list even though Leyla has sworn twice she will never design an app again. The Designercise app would be for brain-busting self-play and geared to help increase mental agility and creative problem solving skills.
Risks and challenges
As with any crazily ambitious idea, we may encounter your usual set of wacky risks such as production not going as planned, issues with shipping and perhaps even running out of goods (running out of goods means demand though, so that’s one problem we’d be ecstatic to troubleshoot!). That said, we have done quite a lot of planning for Designercise and despite a few design changes with our prototypes, we now have a production ready product and a producer all lined up and ready to hit go on the print button! We have playtested extensively, but of course there is always room for improvement, so we will continue to playtest throughout the campaign so that the final shipped product is even more hot to trot and play ready! Another issues we risk with games is transferability (Will people get how to play? Will they understand the instructions and be able to easily pick it up?). To overcome any ‘lost in translation issues’ we will continue to test all game mechanics and instructions on a wide range of end users, asking for feedback to increase easy playability. Durability and longevity are key to us (we are really into sustainability) so making sure the products are produced to meet our high spec standards and that the materials and production processes ensure that the boxes and all the components are strong, robust, while still looking hot is a challenge that we are working through currently. Don’t worry though as we will not ship anything we’re not proud of, and our standards are high!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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