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Your Own Yellow Brick Road

When we talk about building products, we tend to focus on how hard the process is. The quest for a coherent idea. The frenzied hacking together of prototypes. Painstaking refinements. Months of research, design, writing and coding. A herculean launch process.

Unfortunately, in our grit-infatuated state we often leave out a crucial part of the process: Play. On-purpose fun, experimentation and wandering.

In this talk, a designer, researcher and content strategist will make the case for creative play. We’ll explain what it is, show examples of how we and others do it, and explore methods for doing it well. We'll show you how to play your way to better products, and you'll walk away knowing what play is worth.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. The worth of play: What's play? What's the difference between "regular" or "anarchic" play and "constructive," "guided" or "constrained" play? What's this kind of play worth? What's at stake when you don't play? What's at stake when you do?
  2. Contexts for play: What if your office doesn't have slides, bikes, skateboards or other professional play pens? What if "play" isn't in your organization's vocabulary? What if your company doesn't build products, but experiences, interactions or concepts? We'll show you how to play no matter where you are.
  3. How to play: How do designers, researchers, content people and other product builders play? We'll share exercises and methodologies, and tell you when and why each might work. We'll relate methods to high-level concepts and research. We'll explain what playing within constraints is, and what to do when you're stuck. We may even do a few exercises.
  4. Examples of successful play: How has play significantly impacted our work? We'll show some examples, walk you through the process and explain why play mattered. We'll show how people in other disciplines have used play, too.
  5. Leading play: How can you help your team feel more open and creative? How do you "direct" play? How do you encourage play while keeping projects on track? What's the relationship between play and risk-taking?



Tiffani Jones Brown, Content Strategist, Facebook

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