Blogs by InnovatorsBox®

Reimagine Creativity and Connectivity in the Remote World: Introducing Games by InnovatorsBox

Don’t let the passing passage of time deter you from making your dream come true. We’re excited to announce InnovatorsBox Games, a game studio by InnovatorsBox Studios, that will develop and produce online games to promote innovation, collaboration, and connection.

The Dream

Since the first time we created our first card game, SPARK, in March 2016, I’ve been thinking about what it would be like if this game could be played online. Making creativity accessible has been a core mission to the work we do. As I watched how the card games we created were a powerful tool for refocusing and reflecting for many, I wondered what else we could do to make it more accessible. But how can we develop an app? How long would it take us to build this online? I just knew one day we were going to make it happen. I didn’t know if 2021 would be the year until we finished it.

The Journey

From the start, SPARK was a success. My first event in December 2015 proved that my question cards were popular. Mentors who impressed me for their ability to create safe rooms raved about the questions’ depth of authenticity and playfulness, and asked if they could bring more back with them so that they may use it in their next team building meeting. That’s when I first considered developing it into a card game.

I was humbled by the community’s love for card games. I was a novice to game creation, yet my desire for deeper connection, cooperation, and innovation drove me forward. That’s how the games kept evolving.

With our success with SPARK, a set of open-ended question prompts to help you reflect and rethink relationship building, I continued to launch SPARK 2, a set of harder questions. Soon followed by the new games like ReImagine and Infinity.

ReImagine is a set of challenge-prompts to help you rethink what you can do in your daily routine to infuse creative thinking practice. We made ReImagine notebooks with four distinct designs and an uplifting message to help innovators reflect and encourage them to capture their thoughts and ideas.

Infinity Card is a set of creative question prompts to help you rethink problem-solving. Bonus cards such as ‘5-Why’ and ‘Wild Card’ made it fun for participants to practice exercising their questioning by saying ‘Why’ five times, or by making their own questions to practice asking deeper questions. Infinity Squared is our dice game that helps you practice creative questions and answering them creatively such as in a sketch or through a dance. It was fun to see teams bursting into songs as they try to solve a business problem and find new ideas.

Each game reminded players how rethinking creativity starts by changing something small in their routine and these games provided a playful, safe way to do so. And thanks to our talented Graphic Designer Monica Escobar Beasley, who has also done our InnovatorsBox logo, each game came into its own color and unique visual identity.

Monica: What did you enjoy most about designing the card games for InnovatorsBox? Why?

Monica Escobar Beasley:

I really enjoyed putting together the visual identity branding for each of the card game themes. From working on the typography, exploring the patterns and colors, to prototyping the packaging design, putting all the visual elements together that attract the customer to the brand experience was key for the branding strategy and why I enjoyed the process.

Monica: What was the most difficult part and why?

Monica Escobar Beasley:

Conveying key differences in the visual branding for each product was a challenge but very rewarding to see it all come together and work out. Each card game has a unique style and tells a different story.

Monica: What was the easiest part and why?

Monica Escobar Beasley:

The easiest part was working on the colors and patterns for some of the packages, diving into the limitless possibilities was an enjoyable time of exploration.

Monica: What was your favorite game or question prompt?

Monica Escobar Beasley:

I enjoyed all the games but my favorite was the SPARK cards with thoughtful questions you can reflect on at any time by yourself or with others.

We didn’t stop there. As we continued developing, I knew how users were looking for games that were not only useful but were also travel-friendly, aesthetically beautiful, and environmentally friendly. The vendor we used was a fantastic start, but we needed higher-quality paper. That’s how I met our current South Korean partner. The factory is one of the top paper printing manufacturers and our print job, while unique and unusual, was something they could do very well. While their minimum order quantity was 5K+, they were able to do print orders of 1,000 per product with us and helped produce the high-quality cards we have today. It made all the difference. And they’re waterproof!

People loved the cards and praised them for being a great reminder to fuel creativity, curiosity, and courage. The hand-size box, which is lightweight yet easily wipeable cards, was easy to stow in your purse or wallet and a welcome diversion from “what do you do” at any networking event you’d go to. This has been my travel hack to any meetings and conferences. Whenever I feel that there’s a chance to dive a bit deeper, I’d pull out these cards and ask “do you want to play a game?”. Within minutes, we’d have a circle of business leaders, all wearing suits, laughing out loud while enjoying themselves connecting. Being fully human – with emotions and thoughts.

And the games continued to empower people and brought a smile to their days. I’d receive photos of how it reached new countries, new friends, and new ages. Yes, even my Korean nephew who was two years old was told to enjoy the cards due to the colors and design. They started using it for English studies. Even during the pandemic, the cards played a key role in empowering the community. We would use this frequently for team building and online connection game prompts and many sought it out as they were looking for innovative ways to stay connected online.

In September 2020, we donated 600+ card games to 20+ organizations in the country to support networks that were hungry for creativity and connectivity tools for team building, ideation, and community building. I personally went out with all the boxes to ship them and thank them for their devotion to creativity and community.

It’s amazing to me how these games that we worked so hard on can make people happy, laugh, take a break, discover healing, and find the space to feel understood. But I still wondered, ‘how can we help make more creativity accessible?’ Online access and the online game were still on my mind so I decided to go all in.

HOW WE DEVELOPED

I always advocate the use of visualization when it comes to any ambition or goal. I had no idea how we would achieve it because we hadn’t found a developer yet, but I knew exactly how it would feel. I created a thorough road map of what the online interface could look like, as well as how it might feel to users. I didn’t want to break up the four games into four separate entries; instead, I thought it would be more effective to have one entry point that allows players to switch between all four games for team building, innovation, and reflection points.

As someone who loves design and beautiful aesthetics, I focused on how the visuals and mood may feel. How would I want people to feel when they play the game? What mood would they feel as they enter each zone of SPARK, ReImagine, and Infinity? So many of us were feeling tired, fatigued, and burnout. I wanted this to feel like a treat to people so they feel recharged to play these games. That’s when I gain new inspiration, curiosity, and courage to try something new. How can we model a design that made people feel that way?

One question led to another, and one input led to another clarity. By the time that we found our developer, I not only had a clear insight into the visual journey, but had the specific illustrative backgrounds, zone feeling, diverse music cues, and original music by InnovatorsBox Studios ready to go – in addition to the card game visuals that Monica Escobar Beasly had designed for us already many years ago.

The magic came to life by working with a game developer who truly understood our vision and was patient to bring all the different elements I wanted to come to life. I appreciated Carsen Asterino’s deep curiosity and patience and willingness to learn but also have fun, which is how we knew he was the developer we wanted to work with and build this together. As we began to combine the elements, it felt magical as I witnessed my long awaited game develop week by week. 

As any development will, good work takes time. But both his aptitude and my vision and determination led us to create our first game within two months – just in time for all the workshops and events I’m running as will our communities and you will in the next few weeks and months.

Monica: What was your highlight working on InnovatorsBox’s Game creation project?

Carsen Asterino:

Working for InnovatorsBox was an immense pleasure.  Monica practices excellence and perseverance in her work and for everything that she has put together to make InnovatorsBox possible. I love the messaging and goals of InnovatorsBox, sometimes it takes reflection to increase work effectiveness and mental fortitude in a busy and complex world.

Monica: You’ve created a lot of other games before, how was this game different from the ones you’ve done before? Why?

Carsen Asterino:

Game development has, for the most part, just been a personal hobby of mine.  I would create prototypes and small games that I would never share with anyone for years.  Just in the past year or so, I’ve taken that to work, and have had lots of bigger and more published projects now.  InnovatorsBox was different, this is one of the largest and most complex projects that I’ve had the privilege of working on that will meet a larger audience that I’ve never been able to reach by myself.  It makes me exceptionally happy to know that people’s lives are being changed and influenced for the better from the work that I’ve had the chance to participate in with a bunch of other amazing, motivated people.

Monica: Why do you like creating games?

Carsen Asterino:

Understanding the intricacies of games has always been a passion of mine.  I’ve grown up playing video games and have always been curious about the inner workings of what has given me so much entertainment and meaning throughout my childhood.  Games are an extremely underrepresented form of art.  The amount of information and interactivity that the medium provides is nothing like any other form of art, and that has always been spectacular to me.

Monica: Why is this game meaningful for you? What do you hope users would enjoy or feel?

Carsen Asterino:

This game exists as the largest project that I’ve worked on for the largest audience.  I’ve worked on projects for individuals that are looking to create smaller 2D games, but never for a company that will publish a project to people for real use.  Working on this project has been amazing for me, knowing that people will have the chance to have access to this game to change their lives for the better is outstanding.  It makes me very happy to know that I am a part of that work.

Monica: What is your favorite game out of the four?

Carsen Asterino:

Personally, I really enjoy ReImagine, I think it’s a super important tool to get a new perspective on things.  Sometimes life can feel like you’re just going through the motions and not going anywhere, but having an outlet where you can do something new every day really helps break that monotony.  If I were to participate in a group discussion, I really enjoy Spark.  It’s full of intriguing new questions that can open up very deep conversations.  The surface-level conversation is dull, it’s really important to break through that surface level and dig deep into a more meaningful conversation.

As you can hear from Carsen’s comments, he truly understood the company’s goal and mission, which is why he not only came up with additional methods to bring my concepts to reality, but also suggested even more ideas for subtle changes to the user experience. I couldn’t wait to share this with you.

As I saw more details coming together each week, I thought about how a client and friend had expressed his dissatisfaction in connecting remotely. Their team has expanded considerably, yet it hasn’t been easy for everyone to feel genuinely linked and know one another. How do you accomplish that while you’re so busy? Even researching question prompts is extra work and can be hard to do. I hear you! Even for me, I have to carve out thinking time to ideate what question is the right one to bring up for a particular workshop.

What if there was a means to connect more intimately with people by using such a tool? What if it also played relaxing music and made your trip to engaging more pleasant, enjoyable, creative, and playful? I could see this being played not only in business meetings, conferences, tradeshows, ideation rooms, but also in intimate gatherings with family and friends, at schools by teachers and educators, and more. 

You could even try using it during online dating if you are not sure what else to ask to your date and want to get to know them more personally! Or of course, just play while you chill and recharge and reflect on your own. I certainly will be playing it on repeat to reflect and ideate my next ideas and projects!

Monica: What is your favorite question prompt out of the four?

Carsen Asterino:

I really like, “Close your eyes without sleeping or thinking for five minutes today”, from ReImagine.  Doing new tasks like this that are related to a specific goal that you have in mind is super motivating.  The feeling of accomplishment helps with motivation and happiness, along with the mental benefits from doing the action.  Things get busy in life, and having a break from it all just to do nothing helps clear the mind and hit the reset button for the day. 

The Game Is Ready For You

So here we are. The game is ready for you. Share the link. Save the link. Add to your next event agenda. Play the game!

In our continued commitment to make creativity learning accessible for all, I’m pleased to make this first online game set we have developed to be free for all to use and only ask for proper attribution and credit when using. I hope this removes one more barrier to making creativity learning, collaboration, and connection fun and accessible for you and your community.

Please use it, share it, and let us know your thoughts. We thought deeply about all the people out there who would use this. Although where they are and how they use may differ, I hope we have done the right job of help bringing another smile, joy, and warmth to your day.

So do share this and tag us at InnovatorsBox and Monica H Kang. We’d love to create more games that could help bring a smile to your day with creativity. If you have any ideas, suggestions, feedback, or collaboration interest, please don’t hesitate to reach out at [email protected]. For now, I hope you enjoy this magical land with us. 

Thank you for taking a moment to celebrate this moment with us and taking a moment back to reflect on the journey we took to be where we are here with you today. Here is to dreaming more dreams and not giving up on them.

 

More from the team

Monica: Looking back how has this helped you be a better designer?

Monica Escobar Beasley:

As a designer, working on product design sharpens skills in solving problems working with the concept design, and thinking about the customer's experience.

Monica: What advice do you have to share for those who want to design and brand games?

Monica Escobar Beasley:

Make sure to bring out the brand personality when building the design, you are sharing the brand story with customers and building on their expectations. Customers take notice of packaging before experiencing the product inside so it's important to catch their attention from the beginning.

Monica: What tips and advice would you share with other game developers on how they can do better game development?

Carsen Asterino:

Game development is a skill just like any other, you train it with experience. It can be easily discouraging to start at nothing and have no idea how to even make the most simple game ideas that you may have, but from that discouragement, motivation needs to be born. Game development is a very exciting yet difficult skill to train and do, there are endless possibilities with what you can create, but it requires motivation and hard work of the material just like any other skill anyone has.

Monica: How do you hone your skills to be a better developer?

Carsen Asterino:

There are a lot of resources and practices you can do to be a better developer.  Among the software development community, looking things up is not discouraged like it is in other subject matter like math.  Looking things up is how you become more knowledgeable, and the internet is a massive resource at your fingertips ready to be used.  Don’t be afraid to look up every question that you may have along the way, there are extremely niche resources out there that almost always have an answer for you.

Monica: Any other final thoughts you want to share?

Carsen Asterino:

I want to thank everyone who worked hard to make this game and company possible.  There are many individuals that played a very important role before me, and this couldn’t happen without you.  I also want to thank Monica, for her leadership, perseverance, and grit.  She has taken this company into her own hands and built everything from the ground up to help better her users’ lives.  This project will reach a large audience of students, teachers, co-workers, bosses, and general people that will drastically improve the quality of discussion and practice in their lives.  Thank you to everyone that poured their free time and personal motivation into making this project possible.

P.S. It’s desktop ready and mobile and tablet versions are still in development.

About the Author

Monica H. Kang

Monica H. Kang

Monica H. Kang, Founder, and CEO of InnovatorsBox® and Author of Rethink Creativity is transforming today’s workforce through the power of creativity. She helps companies rethink culture, leadership, and team development by making creativity practical and relatable regardless of industry or job title. She has worked with clients worldwide including Fortune 500 companies, higher education, government, and nonprofits. Monica’s work has been recognized by The White House, Ashoka Changemakers, National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), and Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). Prior to InnovatorsBox®, Monica was a nuclear nonproliferation policy expert. She holds an M.A. from SAIS Johns Hopkins University in Strategic Studies and International Economics and a B.A. from Boston University.

Leave a Comment

Sign up for our Newsletter

Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit