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The Mixed Reality Game Cards consist of three different types of cards (Opportunities, Questions, Challenges). This makes it possible to use them for idea generation as well as idea development. Let’s have a closer look at the cards and how they are being used!

Opportunities

Unusual Locations, Exploration, Physiological Data
Image credits: Unusual Locations (Forsaken Photos, “Happy House side view”, CC BY 2.0); Exploration (David Fulmer, “Austin looking the light from abandoned tunnel”, CC BY 2.0); Physiological Data (Simon Fraser University – University Communications, “Brain study”, CC BY 2.0).

51 Opportunity Cards are illustrating the rich design space of location-based experiences and are derived from best practice examples of existing games and experiences. Together, these describe the different elements of a design and are used as the “building blocks”.

Questions

Duration, Location, Beginning and End
Image credits: Duration? (Robert Couse-Baker, “Time Flies”, CC BY 2.0); Locations? (Angelo DeSantis, “Taken from the top of the Mark Hopkins Intercontinental San Francisco”, CC BY 2.0); Beginning and End? (Chris Costes, “Day 32 – What Lies Beyond, CC BY 2.0).

18 Question Cards take a high-level approach to the design. They help reflect on a design idea by forcing you to define the boundaries and constraints of it.

Challenges

Real World Rules, Phone Zombies, Disruption
Image credits: Real World Rules (Kurt Bauschardt, “Insignificant Protest”, CC BY-SA 2.0); Phone Zombies (Garry Knight, “National Security, CC BY-SA 2.0”); Disruption (Takver, “Cyclists riding in Melbourne for 350 Climate Protest, CC BY-SA 2.0”).

24 Challenge Cards are a collection of common pitfalls. These are issues that appear regularly within location-based experiences. You will have to consider whether these might apply to your design and how to overcome them.

Idea Generation

One of the two ways the Mixed Reality Game Cards can be used is for rapid generation of ideas for new mixed reality games.

In “easy” mode every participant draws 3 Opportunity Cards. The first player then plays one of them and explains how the card creates a game. The second player then adds another card to it and describes how it extends the existing game idea. This continues until everybody has played a card.

In “hard” mode players cannot choose which cards to play. Instead they just randomly reveal 3 Opportunity Cards, and then they have 3 minutes to create a game idea that incorporates all cards. This method is more challenging, but the randomness also creates more interesting ideas because it often forces you to think outside-the-box when an odd combination comes up.

What also works really well is to add a card from the board game Dixit (or one of its expansions; I really like the Odyssey one because it features a lot of interesting locations) into the mix. The cards are really weird and surreal, and are great for inspiration and to give games an interesting theme from the get-go.

After the group decides on a final idea (no matter the method) they should write it down to remember it later. Ideas should be kept short (only 2-3 sentences long), and can be as weird and fantastic as possible. Overall, there are no “wrong” ideas. The process is then repeated several times, so the group will end up with a variety of ideas, some exciting, some odd, some obscure, and some unusable. The point is to create a lot of different ideas.

Can you turn the following cards into a game?

Technical Artifacts, Exergaming, Compelling Audio, and a Dixit Card
Image credits: Technical Artifacts (Doug Bowman, “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”, CC BY 2.0); Exergaming (Abhisek Sarda, “Walking the Rope”, CC BY 2.0); Compelling Audio (Nickolai Kashirin, “Headphones”, CC BY 2.0); card from Dixit Odyssey.

Idea Development

After you have generated an idea with the cards (or perhaps you already had an idea before), it is time to use the Mixed Reality Game Cards to explore the idea in more detail. This is where the the Question and Challenge Cards come in. However, first you should use the Opportunity Cards to build a fully fledged idea. It works best if all group members draw a couple of cards, and then play a card if they think it meaningfully enhances the idea. After a while the idea should become richer and more defined. At this point it is useful to switch over to the Question Cards.
This is the first step in refining the idea further. Instead of adding to it, the Question Cards will surface the important parts of the idea. Similarly, they will also make sure you have taken into account all important elements that a “complete” idea needs.

The next step in the process are the Challenge Cards. These problems and issues “fool proof” the idea and turn it into something more realistic.

Something that works really well as a final activity is to arrange all the cards that were important during the design process in the form of a poster. This nicely visualizes the idea and also is a good way to make sure that everybody who worked on it has the same understanding of the game design.

Jubilee Capture Flag

Rules

Download the complete rules for using the mixed reality game cards.

Credits

The cards have been developed as part of my PhD at the Mixed Reality Lab, University of Nottingham. The work was in part supported by EPSRC grant EP/I011587/1 as part of the ORCHID research project.

Images on the cards have been used in accordance with Creative Commons. Please have a look at the detailed image credits.