Star Designer is a design game for families, in which players explore the essential 21st century skills creative thinking, communication, and empathy through an open and creative mindset. During the game, different characters drop by with all kinds of problems. All players are asked to come up with handy but sometimes crazy or foolish solutions.
The game consists of three phases. First, together you determine the goal/problem of a character. Then, all players invent an idea based on their secret assignment card, using their individual drawing boards to visualize their ideas. Finally, you present your idea to the group by explaining how it works and how it helps the character. However, this game is not about having the best idea it is about guessing the secret assignments of your fellow players.
Wouter van Strien
The result of this graduation project has taken the first steps in making children acquainted with the 21st century skills in a safe and competitive game environment. The key insights gathered through the playtesting sessions with families show a positive relationship between the embedded game elements and a fun-factor. The highest empathic behaviour has been detected when players define a goal/problem for an in-game character themselves. Also, recognizable characters have the potential to make children think of someone from their own environment, such as a grandmother, making their ideas more personal and diverse. Furthermore, the secret assignment cards with ambiguous words are found to encourage kids to turn their first idea into something different (divergent thinking).
This project might be of great interest for other game designers and design education in general. The central aim has been to explore the potential of a family-friendly design game that engages kids to learn and practice the essential 21st century skills by embracing an open and creative attitude. Further research should investigate if repeatedly playing this game increases learning efficiency of the 21st century skills.