Agile Game Design

I spoke on a congress recently about Agile and Gamification. My good friend (and business relation) Ahmet Akdag from ACM Software invited me to speak during the congress of a big Turkish telephone company ánd the ‘Agile Turkey Summit 2014’ and I had a blast! Over 400 people attended in the Dedeman Hotel, where we also do the Gamification Workshops.

Of course we (as BrandNewGame) use agility in game design and game development, but I never really realized how much we actually need it during our development proces. A game is such a complex system, which makes it suitable for an agile approach and using scrum during meetings, but the interaction with the player makes it even harder to develop something sticky, fun and successful (effective). The average lead-time of our productions take about 3 to 6 months and we iterate the hell out of each phase / milestone. Just to give you an idea how a typical applied game design project goes, these are the milestones we define:

1. Idea creation phase

2. Concept visualisation phase

3. Prototype phase

4. Development phase (alpha & beta code)

5. Launch & Support

Each phase has several sprints (depending on the size of the project) and we do not continue to the next phase unless our client (the ‘product owner’) and his ‘Game Changers’ – as we call them – are satisfied. Our clients participate actively in each phase and ‘co-create’ the product we develop. This is not only the best solution for the quality of the product, but it also helps us to ‘sell-in’ the idea. During development process, more and more employees get involved in the development process, especially for testing the prototype, alpha code, beta code and finally during launch to promote the game.

The funny thing is that the development proces of games look a lot like the actual gameloop that most games have. Most games require the player to undertake 3 to 5 sequential actions that they need to do over and over again, take FarmVille for instance: buy seeds, plant seed, wait, harvest plants for money… buy seeds, plant seeds, wait, harvest plants for money… buy seeds, plant seeds, wait, harvest plants for money…  and of course: level up! Running a business is an equal process, but I will not go into detail about that – I will try to stay on-topic about gamification of agility…

Now how can you ‘gamify’ agile methods? Well… we have our own methods and products – which I cannot disclose yet, but simple tools to start making meetings more fun is to add some rules to your meetings, ad time (use a sand timer) and to always have an objective for each meeting.

Our rules for meetings are:

1. Set an objective for each meeting

2. Set the rules: come prepared, show active involvement during the meeting, leave the meeting with actions you defined

3. Time the meeting, the time you wish to spend on topics (each participant gets 5 minutes), and how long people can discuss a topic (ten minutes in total) – if you only have 5 minutes to get your point across in a meeting, you will prepare a meeting really well!

4. End each meeting with a recap of all proposed actions and give positive feedback to the individual and team effort.

You can find the presentation I held in Istanbul above (you found it already of course) – and if you want to know more about Gamification in Turkey, read the article below or check out