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Mind the Gap
A digital board game to address workplace communication gaps through participatory decision making. 

Role:

Researcher, User Interface Design

Tools Used: 

Figma, Miro, Photoshop

Duration:

15 weeks

Category:

Great Resignation, Game Design, Workplace Culture

CONTEXT

Workplace woes

On a typical day, 3 out of 5 employees are not content with their work culture.

And comparing corporate hybrid & onsite work models, workers prefer hybrid work culture. But would still leave for greener pastures

42%

42% of onsite workers are more likely to leave their current position. 

28%

28% of hybrid workers are more likely to leave their current position. 

How might we reduce corporate workplace attrition?

OBJECTIVE

By building bridges in communication gaps through gamification. Enter Mind the Gap 

A game that imitates how a company would operate, through the magic of roleplaying.

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How to play

Using role playing mechanics, Mind the Gap  lets players navigate the game through a prompt based story.

Play a prescribed character, and on each turn, become the decision maker to drive the direction of the game. 

Mediators create game rooms and host a session, and can choose from multiple options to define a particular game.

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Ahh but here's the catch.

As a player, the choices you make that do not align with the game DM, you get further away from the group. Any further, and you get kicked out. 

Post Game 

As the game concludes, players reveal their identities to each other, and the moderator conducts a 4-step reflection process to evaluate how the game was played. 

Game Stats

The types of choices made

Disagreements

Journey of the narrative

Game Reflection

Decisions Made

Disagreements

Journey of the narrative

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But how does a board game address this? Let's start at the very beginning.

The Problem

70%

US employees strongly agree that their manager does not involve them in setting their goals at work.

&

70%

U.S. employees strongly agree that at work, their opinions don't count.

Employees Leave  

New Hiring rounds

Reduced productivity

New hire onboarding

Drop in revenue

Infamous work culture

Design Brief

Our plan of action

Together with the Aspen Institute, I realized it was important to settle some factors. 

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Clarify the semantic nuances & ambiguities

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Dissect & untangle
the vast problem

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Crystallize the actual problem, “80-20” style

Their Business and Society Department works with business executives and scholars to align business decisions and investments with the long-term health of society. Hence the solution we create will help their Ideas Lab develop a toolkit for convening that would enable organizations to see the value of their employees. 

Can we turn

30%

Of American workers surveyed by Gallup reported that at work, their opinions really count

to

70%

Of American workers surveyed  reported that at work, their opinions really count

To start with, I wanted to speak to front line workers and create profiles

Meet Alberto.

He is a barista at a local Starbucks. 

Of Latin origin, he highlighted the lack of empathy and support that he generally faces on a day-to-day basis. 

He was glad that a labor union was formed at Starbucks. That helped him feel noticed

What we found

User Journey

Stages

Pre-Hiring 

Hiring 

Onboarding 

Employed

Resignation 

Post Employment 

Processes

Culture Fit
Value Fit
Application

Profile Shortlist
Interviews
Job Offer

Orientation
Training
Buddy System

Assigned to role
Daily Duties
KPI

Severance
Review of work
Next role

New company search
Application prep

Emotion

Hopeful & anxious

Nervous &
excited

Excited & charged

Content, yet hopeful for more

Uncertain yet content

Hopeful & anxious

Themes

We asked our participants what it means to not have voice gaps:

"The freedom for anyone who work to express themselves and in doing so create value at work."

Which gave us the three points below:

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LOW AGENCY & PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY

Workers feel neither empowered nor safe to voice out feedback

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COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWNS

LACK OF COMMUNICATION PLATFORMS

Workers lack means to voice out feedback

Workers and Decision Makers ineffectively give and elicit feedback from each other

And, our ability to form meaningful working experiences depends on three scenarios

How do I work?

Where we are working?

Who we are working with?

We decided to focus on the who we are working with. This provided the first insight. 

INSIGHT

Participation

Front-line workers have business intelligence but don't have many opportunities to show this. So, Mind the Gap resolves this by giving opportunities to decide how the game progresses through prompts.

Question Heading for each stage of the narrative. 

Prompts presented for with consequences. 

RETROSPECT

But this got messy

In the weeks we worked on this project, coordination between 3 team members part of a 12-person class was difficult, to say the least.

To resolve this, we decided to granulate roles, by operating as a design firm. From client and project management to the design team, this started to work smoothly.

This provided us with another insight. 

INSIGHT

Roles and Responsibility

Workers love to feel responsible and have roles. Hence in Mind the Gap, players have character profiles, with each person in the game having a specific goal and outcome. 

Game Character cards

Each player is presented as their character. 

With a few insights in, and a mountain of data from our experts and worker interviews, I started building the screens. 

DEVELOPMENT

Information Architecture

Wireframes

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Game Elements

TESTING

Workshops

We conducted workshops within the class and learned so much from each other's diverse work experience. Through this variety, however, there were certain factors that were very similar, factors that worked.

RESULTS

Ingredients for Organizational Success

We came up with 4 distinct parts that lead to successful organizing

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Build and earn organizational trust

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Break down silos
and communicate

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See all Workers as assets, not liabilities

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Aim to Lead, not just Manage

INSIGHT

Participation

Participation and decisions go hand in hand. So we created a system for huddles and rewarded this behavior in the game. But like life, this is randomised so you win or lose.

Once done, we presented this to the Aspen Institute

A fictional title to see the future possibilities. There were talks of the benefits this game would bring and strategy of implementation.

Benefits

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Increases retention and performance

+

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Generates more
Business Intelligence

+

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Makes employees feel
more valued

=

Leads to a 100% Increase in employee ideas being heard. 

Strategy

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The game is introduced to organizations by Aspen Institute. 

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Aspen hosts games with interested parties

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The game and concept evolve as more players play.

Leading to new game narratives, and more companies utilizing this method to foster a better working relationship with their employees. Workers stay longer within companies and work better with this job security. 

Key Takeaways
From Client
- Resonated with the novel concept.
- Inspired to explore the next steps. Suggested new plot points for better relatability. Also requested the game files to workshop themselves.


 
From Self
- More time to conduct usability testing which would lead to a better way to track the story as well as learn how to execute the retrospective stage. 
- Access to client through informal means, to receive quick feedback on design directions. 


 
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