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24 January 2022

How we worked with a professional board game designer to improve our first physical product.

Digital Habit Lab

This post is part of a series that looks behind the scenes on the creation of the Digital Habit Labβ€”A deck of 50 experiments to help you disrupt digital habits, and take control of your tech.

Launching on Kickstarter Feb 7th 2022.

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Matteo is a game designer who is currently working with Matt Leacock (creator of the awared winning Pandemic) to make Daybreak, a board game about climate change.

He has also been a long time supporter of Mind over Tech, attending that very first workshop we ran back in spring of 2018.

When we first started developing the Digital Habit Lab in 2019, it was a simple set of prompts that evolved out of our corporate workshops. They were proving to be really popular, but taking these crude slips of paper and developing them into a fleshed out physical product felt like a daunting task.

We were hugely fortunate, then, that when we approached him to work with us in developing out the concept, Matteo was not only available but very enthusiastic.

At the time he was doing his games residency at the V&A Museum in London, and he began by running some workshops for us to help take the crude prototypes that we had produced, and begin to hack them using game design techniques.

This really began to set us on the track towards their final form; as a complete toolkit of experiment cards which use light gamification to help encourage disrupting your digital habits.

Jonathan caught up with Matteo recently to reflect on this whole process. If you are interested you can watch the 30 minute conversation, or scroll down for a brief overview of the steps we took.

The evolution of the card design

Even back in our very first experimental workshop back in the spring on 2018, we were exploring tools to help people explore and design intentional digital habits. As the workshops progressed, we began creating challenge cards β€” simple white slips of paper with a challenge prompt, encouraging attendees to try and push against established behaviours.

As time went on, we tried out a whole range of different challenges, until we had a group of about 30 'good' ones. At this stage we created the first early deck of cards by getting them printed by Moo, the business card company (this is a great way to get a quick and dirty prototype made for cheap!).

You can see this evolution in the photo below, with the Moo card prototypes in the middle.

Prototype evolutions

These colourful but small cards were then used for about a year in the workshops which we ran with corporate clients. This allowed us to work out which challenges, or experiments as they were now becoming known, were genuinely helpful, and which were just a bit gimmicky.

Workshop run with Matteo during his V&A residency as game designer

Over the next period we then added more experiments to bring us up to the 50 mark, and then did many rounds of research and writing in order to pack as much useful information into them as possible.

We were careful to make sure that the front of the cards are spacious and give a quick overview of the experiment. (It's these designs that you see weekly as the experiment our newsletter).

On the back, we have condensed our own experience with running the experiments, along with carefully sourced scientific research and studies to explain the reasons why running each experiment can be helpful for your wellbeing, creativity & productivity.

The end result is almost 15,000 words! And fitting all of this into an appealing and functional design has been a challenge πŸ˜….

Below is an image showing the nearly final anatomy of card, and how we have designed it to be as helpful a tool as possible.

Each element on the final card design was tested and validated through the workshopping process.

Read more about the experiments in our Lab Tests

Last year, we released a series of posts inspiring you to consider your relationship with tech, and also featured two new experiments from the Digital Habit Lab.

See all Lab Tests β†’