GameSprout

Community-driven game design platform

Project director, design director (research, systems design, systems prototyping, internal & external playtesting, game idea life cycles & progression criteria, game idea prototyping & design feedback)

GameSprout website

GameSprout is a platform dedicated to making game development accessible to everyone, exciting to participate in, and fun to watch. On the GameSprout website, anyone can post a game idea and get votes, feedback, input, and even development help from the GameSprout community and Schell Games' team of professional game developers. Rapid prototyping makes it possible for the community to try out gameplay first-hand and refine it through repeated experimentation. People whose game ideas show enough promise get an opt-in opportunity to have their game funded, developed, and released by Schell Games and share in their game's profits. First conceived of in November 2012 as a natural progression of Schell Games' experiments in crowd-driven game development, GameSprout launched into public beta in May 2013.

GameSprout was created by a core team of seven developers aiming to take transparency in game design to an unprecedented level. I was our team's project director for the first five of the seven months leading up to our Beta launch. We faced many challenges, the foremost of which was defining a development process in which rapid prototyping could take place while still allowing for deep involvement from the idea owner and community. In coming up with potential game development systems for GameSprout, we drew from our own development experience, the best practices outlined in Jesse Schell's The Art of Game Design, and the latest research findings on collaboration and the creative process.

Testing potential processes was a daunting task—prototyping the GameSprout development process would necessarily involve coming up with and prototyping multiple game ideas as well—but I headed efforts to begin testing our proposed systems as early as possible using paper prototyping methods. We prototyped and tested the development system through four iterations leading up to the system we released for Beta launch. Each step along the way we were able to identify issues and work to address them, making increasingly informed adjustments.

During this time we also reached out to other groups, networking with crowdsourcing researchers and following up on an opportunity to collaborate with a group of Carnegie Mellon University Human-Computer Interaction undergraduate students. These students spearheaded user interface development and testing, which was instrumental in our speedy launch of an attractive and user-friendly Beta site.

As Beta launch approached, we transitioned the project director role to our tech lead, streamlining implementation. Focusing on my design role, I worked with the designers on our team to emphasize a goal-driven approach in our team's activities on the site. GameSprout launched in May 2013, and after only a month's time in public Beta the GameSprout community had over one thousand members collaborating on more than one-hundred-and-eighty game ideas.

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