Sunday, January 28, 2007

Emergent Design: Magnetic Whiteboards

A few days ago one of my students brought in a prototype for a game concept on a magnetic whiteboard. This has got to be one of the best prototyping tools I've ever seen. It has moveable parts -- custom magnets. Draw a stick figure, there's your avatar. Draw a straight line, now you've got a moveable platform for the avatar to stand on. Parts of the game that are static can be drawn in whiteboard marker, and erased / redrawn as needed. Parts that move are drawn on magnets, and you slide them around.

The particular model my student brought in also had cork board on the opposite side -- ideal for a pause screen or subscreen :-)

Yes, you can do this with post-it notes or index cards. But a magnetic whiteboard combines all of the best aspects of these in one prototyping tool.

And yet, I never had one of these when working for a game company, nor did anyone else who I worked with. It didn't even occur to us to go out and get one. So, to my game designer friends in the industry, I'd suggest going out and investing in one before your next project enters the concept phase.

Thank goodness for students with no industry experience; I don't know how we'd advance the field without them.

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