I’ve spent an entire week trying to find the BEST, most CREATIVE possible way to build a mission statement.
This isn’t usually a problem for me: I have a pretty solid design process that has served me well from building games for the Smithsonian to teaching new game designers at Northeastern. It goes like this:
The idea is: What do you want? What do you have? What can you not do?
Now based on that. What can you build?
First: goals. I find that goals are the hardest part for institutions when they hire my company on to build something creative. They know they want something educational, and FUN (of course)… but they can’t always drill down on what fun actually is. They know they want to reach children and families or the 18 to 35 crowd… but what do they want those people to know? I learned this in grad school when I was learning to be a proper teacher. The hardest part is: Students Will Be Able To…. what?
For instance, for this statement. I had a few goals. Readers will be able to:
Surmise things that they can’t see from just looking at my projects. Mostly that I’m a trained educator and I take that seriously- it may be hard to see that in pictures of my projects with people dressed as wizards. I want to share how my game design documents look a lot like lesson plans because how can you know if you won if you don’t know what you wanted?
I want the reader to see how I structure my thought process.
See a bit about my general personality so they’ll know if I’d be a good fit for their team. What parts? They should know I’m a “Swing dancer, martial arts enthusiast and interactive games guru who pursues her passions with guts and gusto.” (Thanks to an interview on Like a Boss Girls.) They should probably know that I’m high energy but my working style is flexible and casual, that I’m not a type-A personality but I’m also laser-focused on getting projects to the finish line. They should be able to infer that I love solutions, I love saying “what if” and cobbling ideas together. I also love using whatever skills or resources we happen to have in a room.
I want readers to want to meet me in person since I don’t tend to present as well on paper as I do in personal interactions.
They’ll know from my portfolio what I can produce— so I should try and express my working style so they can try to see who I am and who I’m not. They know what they’re looking for. I’m a pretty good square but that won’t help them if they’re looking for a circle.
Then … resources. I work with a lot of museums and nonprofits and I like to tell them that they can build games and playful learning experiences with twenty dollars and a roll of duct tape (which is about as much as some of these museum education departments have.) So I’ve learned to do the MOST we possibly can with whatever we have. That means if we have a college student who’s an artist, a lot of squirrels on the museum campus, a relationship with a chocolate company… whatever we have, we use it. Rather than saying, “We want to build Fortnight but with birds…” and then waiting for magical superfunding to appear, I like looking at what CAN be built with what already exists. So for me and this statement, what did I have for resources?
Website to post things on
I have the Edventure Builder, my own software that lets me tell interactive stories on mobile
I’m not bad at editing video
I could try out Twine for a more computer-based interactive
I could do things in the form of a lesson plan/design doc since I do a lot of those
I’m pretty good at making ppt and giving presentations to groups
I could make it into a cartoon or visual novel
I could write it into a game, tabletop RPG or fiction
I have lots and lots and lots of images and video from my projects
museums. I love museums and over the years I’ve gained a lot of insider access to unusual spaces. Could I do anything at a museum or with a museum? It’s probably my best superpower.
And then lastly… the design parameter that seals the deal, RESTRICTIONS. What can I not do? This is really important when I build games or stories because it knocks a lot of possibilities out of my list. This is the category that really tells me what my best options are.
TIME. I’ve been spending so much TIME on this but it needs to be done by tomorrow. This knocks out things like Twine, video, visual novel or doing anything connected to a museum. It’s a bummer because those would have been fun but when it comes down to it, nobody knows what you DIDN’T do. Except you, dear reader, since this whole document shows what I didn’t do.
CLARITY. I can’t get so clever that nobody knows what the heck I’m talking about. This knocks out the Edventure Builder, game and fiction. I had some proto-ideas for how those might work and had a lot of start-stops there but they’re just too convoluted.
READER’S TIME. There are probably going to be a lot of applications so I can’t ask the reader to do too much to try and understand what I’m saying.
So time and clarity really narrowed down my options. I might have been able to eek out an interactive fiction on the Edventure Builder but that may not be the best use of my reader’s time. Therefore, looks like my best option is #5, I’ll write it as a process doc: my standard GRR document. That’s quick and easy to do, it’s also really clear what I’m trying to say. It shows my thought process while literally listing the things that I want to get across in the “goals” category. That’s so meta… but I think it’s probably the best solution based on what I have for design parameters.
Then I’ll post it on the website and voila. Should I include some images to make it pop a little more? Nah those wouldn’t really fit the style. I should just link them to my projects page again and encourage them to look at the work that I’m most proud of. (https://www.greendoorlabs.com/projects).
Figures. After all that time trying to figure out how to showcase my creativity, the best solution was just to go through the design process that’s worked for me all these years.
Now let’s hope they want to meet me.