A cheet sheet for Rapid Prototyping

Summary: Brainstorming doesn’t work. Rapid prototyping is all about the quick and dirty approach. Never involve more than 3 people in a prototype.

Back in grad school, there were four guys called the Experimental Gameplay team, who spent a semester prototyping digital games in 7-day cycles. I sat next to them for that semester while I worked on PeaceMaker, and learned a lot by observing how they worked. They wrote a great article called “How to Prototype a Game in Under 7 Days:
Tips and Tricks from 4 Grad Students Who Made Over 50 Games in 1 Semester” that summarized their experiences on this project. This can easily apply to a mobile app or microsite, just as it did game design. But it really requires a very different mindset.

I’ve noticed that interactive ad agencies and experience design teams are struggling to articulate more “rapid” approaches to prototyping, to gain an innovative edge. But they’re thinking about it the wrong way.

The goal of prototyping is NOT crafting pitch material, or anything like creating a concept — it’s to learn about what works and what doesn’t, to  ultimately innovate from such experimentation. It’s much more agile and much less waterfall (although neither truly apply). With all that in mind, here’s a cheat sheet to the experimental game design approach, along with some of my own thoughts:

experimental gameplay paper prototype

quick and dirty paper prototype – imagine the interactivity in yer mind!

Production: Rapid is a lifestyle

Design: Concept and Pre-Prototype (Don’t brainstorm!)

Development: KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)