Gamestorming Exercise: Doodle Birds!

My doodle bird page

I was the facilitator for a class last week and wanted to open it up with a Gamestorming exercise. If you haven’t heard of them before, gamestorming is a way to approach design challenges as games. It allows the team to be creative and loose in a safe environment. Working within the rules of the games also makes participants frame problems in new and interesting ways. They’re great for starting projects off or when a team has reached a block.

The exercise that I ran was called Doodle Birds. It focuses on letting the participants warm up their creative minds, work on visual thinking, and develop pattern recognition.

I changed a couple rules from the original to add additional value for team building.

You start by passing out pieces of paper to everyone in the group. Have them divide the paper into as many sections are there are people in the group.

When they have separate sections, have each person draw a quick squiggle in each box. They can be quick, messy, intricate, etc. As long as there is something in each box.

Then, they pass their paper to the person on their right. Everybody chooses a squiggle and has 20 seconds to draw additional pieces on it (a beak, a couple feet, etc) to turn it into a doodle bird. They write their name in the square next to the bird and pass that paper to the person on their right.

The process repeats until the paper returns to the original owner, and they now have a ridiculous set of birds to take home. Encourage the group to share and discuss the process.

The human mind is a pattern recognition machine. No matter how odd the squiggles are, people will be able to turn them into birds. It’s a good lesson too about visual thinking. You don’t have to make beautiful drawings to express things visually. With just a few visual clues people can fill in the gaps.