Played Into Collaborating: Design Games as Scaffolding for Service Co-Design Project Planning

Otso Hannula*, Olivier Irrmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Design games have been widely used in service co-design to structure the design dialogues between stakeholder groups and service designers in probing, imagining and prototyping services. However, we propose that the type and phase of the design dialogues scaffolded by design games can be expanded to include early phases of service co-design. Method. To illustrate this approach, we studied ATLAS, a design game for service co-design project planning through a video-based microethnography. In ATLAS, service designers and other project stakeholders collaboratively explore their early understanding of the project goals, participants and methods. We studied the interaction between an interorganizational group of players based on a video recording of a game of ATLAS. Results. Our analysis produced four categories of interaction displayed by both the players and the facilitator: co-creating the plan, thinking with the material, playing the game and following the rules. Based on these themes of interaction, we characterize the structure provided by ATLAS as a co-creation scaffold that supports planning and an interaction scaffold that maintains the game activity. Conclusions. Based on our study, we describe the ability of design games to structure dialogues as scaffolding. Through our study, we expand the role of design games to include the earliest phases of service co-design projects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599-627
Number of pages29
JournalSimulation and Gaming
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • co-creation
  • co-design
  • design games
  • microethnography
  • participatory design
  • scaffolding
  • service design
  • service projects
  • video analysis

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