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I met Hillary Hopper on Twitter one night when she tweeted about a creative block. With a continual search in Tweetdeck for “creative block,” I try to reach out to people and share some ideas. Interestingly, very few respond. Hillary did though, and that started a fun Twitter correspondence through a move, career changes, and seeing her design work, particularly in online gaming. Recently we talked about Hillary doing a guest article for Brainzooming during World Creativity and Innovation Week. We decided on Hillary discussing how creativity shapes her work for mobile game design at Tinyco. Here’s Hillary Hopper!

Creativity in Mobile Game Design by Hillary Hopper

When I tell people that I am a mobile user interface/user experience (UI/UX) game designer, I think a lot of people either:

1. Don’t understand what responsibilities the role entails
2. Think that I am someone who makes stock assets (i.e. boxes and triangles) for games

Thankfully my job does not entail that; at least not all the time. Instead, my role is steeped in a world of color and imagination. My expertise is in social simulation games such as Tiny Village and Farm Ville. I love this sector of the industry because it has a lot of creativity available to it. While working on Tiny Village, I have been able to be creative with creating icons, and theme of the UI, along with being more analytical and thinking about the user experience and flow.

In the mobile gaming industry, there is a lot of ground to cover when it comes to creativity and UI design.  Mobile gaming has turned into a $12 billion dollar market and is growing over 50% per year. This has led people from all over the world to try their hand at creating mobile games of one kind or another.

Creating Harmony between UI and UX

The aesthetics of a game are critically important because that is the first thing a user will see. UI/UX designers have to not only identify the kind of feel that a game needs to have, but they also have to be critically aware of the artwork that is being created for the game. Examples of artwork for mobile games include the look and feel of buildings, landscapes, and characters. More often than not, gaming companies will have a separate group that creates these assets, so it’s possible for the teams to go on different paths.

Creating harmony between the user interface and the artwork is a fundamental design task and can be a very fun process. This process is actually much more complex than it sounds — the user interface should not overwhelm a game’s artwork or vice versa. Although there are several schools of thought about the synergy, I am a firm believer that UI should be secondary to the artwork and less noticeable. The best games today offer a user experience that helps the user navigate without being intrusive. For example, while working at TinyCo I have tried to create beautiful UI but have it not be distracting to the player. UI should not cover up, but should complement its surroundings and display information properly.

I’ve spoken about the user interface aspect but it’s important to mention what the user experience aspect entails. Designing a game’s user experience is an area that is extremely creative and stimulating. I spend a lot of time planning the flow of the game after a user interacts with game (i.e. tapping a UI button). This usually includes designing animations and modals. A strong user experience allows the user to navigate seamlessly through the game in a way that just feels natural.

Simple UX Design

A lot of people like to over think UX, but I view it as making the simplest solution possible. The simpler the process, the better it will be for the user and more intuitive. While working at TinyCo, some of the biggest UX questions have been solved by a simple solution. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be some complicated UX. Most times it’s designing a feature that is simple and makes sense.

Being creative about button placement and learning about the psychology of the human being helps a lot. During any UX project,  designers must remember that humans are creatures of habit. Thus the UX should be almost a habit to make the user tap without even thinking.

Mobile Game Design as a Career

If you are a designer and wondering what type of industries to consider, I would strongly suggest mobile game design. Opportunities are abundant in Silicon Valley, Los Angles, and New York.  But how do know if you’re a good fit? If the following bullet points describe you, then you should consider UX/UI game design:

  • You love games
  • You play mobile games on your own
  • You notice the interface on all types of games
  • You enjoy making icons and love pixel perfect designs
  • Color theory is a strong suit for you and you love putting themes together

Being responsible for the design of a game’s user interface and user experience is a challenging but rewarding opportunity. Because of the tight deadlines, the learning curve can be overwhelming at first. But once you learn its strengths and weaknesses it becomes a lot easier. You can see every pixel and color and making just one small mistake can be seen by everyone. I wouldn’t want to work in any other field and have found it to be such a wonderful career. – Hillary Hopper

 


Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative ideas! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Guest Author

The Brainzooming blog has a wonderful group of guest authors who regularly contribute their perspectives on strategy, creativity, and innovation. You can view guest author posts by clicking on the link below.

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3

To commemorate World Creativity and Innovation Week, here are some of the top viewed extreme creativity-oriented articles on the Brainzooming blog since last year’s World Creativity and Innovation Week.

5 More Extreme Creativity Lessons from “Cake Boss” – Sharing lessons from Buddy the Cake Boss is like creating a magnet for great innovation. This follow-up from the original Cake Boss post actually takes off into space!

9 Extreme Creativity Questions from Peter’s Laws – A fun set of questions you can use to prompt more extreme creativity and innovation.

Protecting Your Creativity in a Culture that Doesn’t Value It – If you’re trying to create a more creative culture, you’ve got to protect yourself while you’re at it.

Diet Coke Can Redesign – Branding and Creativity Lessons – Coca-Cola made some big packaging changes to iconic brands this past year. The white Coke can didn’t work, but the Diet Coke change worked.

4 Extreme Creativity Lessons from “Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour” – I’ve had second thoughts about this post, especially since the video that inspired it disappeared from YouTube. Even though I disagree with a lot of what she puts forward as awakened thinking, these four lessons hold up.

14 Ideas for Creativity Boost this Work Week – This is a solid list to return to when the work week is sapping your innovative spirit and you need a creativity boost.

Focused Daydreaming – A Practical Tool from Chris Griffiths – One of a couple of guest posts on this list, Chris Griffiths provides a creative rationale for letting our minds wander!

10 Lessons to Integrate Creativity in Business – #BMAUnleash Panel – A panel discussion recap from the 2011 Business Marketing Association conference, there are some true creative gems in here, especially from Randall Rozin at Dow Corning.

Create an Extreme Creativity Makeover Project Team – Why not have a really fun, creative job title, especially if it helps counteract your boring traditional job title?

Space and Creativity – Woody Bendle weighs in on 3 different types of space that enhance your creative pursuits.

Extreme Creativity – 10 Brainstorming Questions from Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives – I love watching reality TV shows that yield great lessons, especially extreme creativity lessons. Here are 10 brainstorming questions from sitting through lots of great looking food on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.

2012 TED – 8 Takeaways on Extreme Creativity and Amazing Innovation – The 2012 TED simulcast was uneven at best, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t still some great extreme creativity lessons to take away!

5 Lessons from the Guy behind the Facebook Like Button – One of my favorite things to read each week is the creativity column in the Saturday Wall Street Journal. This one in particular contained very valuable lessons from a key Facebook designer.

Pictures (of Creativity) Are Worth a 1,000 Words – Despite repeated vows to do more with images on the blog, images still take center stage too infrequently. These creativity pictures were a great substitute for writing a bunch of words, though.

Creativity, Innovation and the Intrepid Radio Podcast – Whether online, in-person, or via podcast, Todd Schnick always prompts a great creative discussion. Here’s our talk about creativity vs. innovation and what the differences are.

I hope you’ll enjoy clicking back to a few of these posts since last year’s World Creativity and Innovation week. If everything goes as planned, we’ll be announcing a new eBook soon that’s part of a bigger effort to encourage and energize organizations to embrace new thinking from within their workforces. Stay tuned! – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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3

Saturday’s “Creating” column in The Wall Street Journal featured a profile on British performer Tracie Bennett who is playing Judy Garland on Broadway in “End of the Rainbow.” The article details the creative preparation she went through in advance (and still conducts nightly before each performance) to transform into her version of Judy Garland.

The Wall Street Journal story details various steps Tracie Bennett employed to get ready for her Judy Garland performance. These steps provide seven lessons any of us can use in reinterpreting creative inspiration as we borrow creative ideas from sources that already exist while still creating something new.

1. Immerse yourself and learn so you can quit looking as you create.

Tracie Bennett consumed twenty-five Judy Garland biographies along with watching and listening to everything she could find about her. After immersing yourself in creative inspiration and having a command of your subject though, it is critical to step away and creatively reinterpret your work based on your own perspective.

2. Mix different time periods from your creative inspiration.

In determining the mannerisms she would use onstage, Bennett combined elements from Judy Garland as both an adult and a child performer. When you are borrowing creative inspiration, do the same and pull inspiration from varied periods, whether that involves multiple eras, geographies, media, etc.

3. Don’t get in trouble by directly copying your creative inspiration.

During the time period “End of the Rainbow” captures, Judy Garland was performing certain songs in a slower, understated manner. Since this style did not fit with the play, the songs are performed with a more manic energy than historical facts suggest. What a great reminder that creative inspiration should be reinterpreted, and you can even do the opposite when it suits your creative demands.

4. Identify the underlying creative structure, then stretch and dial it back a little.

Bennett learned how Judy Garland actually performed songs by studying her mouth positions and breathing patterns. While she used this learning as a basis, she attempted to exaggerate the mannerisms before dialing back her performance so it is not “clownish.” It’s always valuable to inordinately stretch your creative ideas so you know where the creative boundaries are and can settle on the appropriate place.

5. Move creative inspiration into a different context.

Since “End of the Rainbow” recreates a Judy Garland performance, Garland’s songs were considered as speeches within the play’s structure, with each one intended to move the story and emotions along through the production.  Considering a creative inspiration from a different perspective or moving it into a different context is ideal for forcing creative reinterpretation.

6. Develop your own creative backstory to inspire your creative effort.

Through her research, Tracie Bennett identified her own interpretation for Judy Garland’s emotional state at the start of the play. She and director Terry Johnson decided, however, that introducing this new point of view into the play would be confusing. Instead, Bennett uses her new creative backstory to prep without bringing it onstage. Not all your creative exploration and preparation has to make it into the final creative output. You can allow it to inspire and then put it aside.

7. If you want a new creative angle, think “similar but different.”

Judy Garland died of a drug overdose, but rather than taking her extensive research into trying drugs herself, Tracie Bennett interviewed friends and others who had been challenged by addiction. You don’t always have to walk exactly the same path as the original creator to reinterpret creative inspirations. Mining people and ideas that are “similar but different” is a wonderful source for further creative inspiration.

What do you do when reinterpreting creative inspirations? What tips do you use when you borrow creative ideas? – Mike Brown

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative ideas! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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7

Whoever is going to disrupt your market isn’t like you, which makes them really hard to identify right now. Number 1?

They may not even be in business yet.

That’s a big difference, but it’s not the only one. Here are fourteen other ways whoever is going to disrupt your market isn’t like you, since they:

Photo by: spacejunkie | Source: photocase dot com

2. Don’t care about preserving anything about what’s made your brand successful.

3. Are happy to get a small share of the market at a premium price with a dramatically different offering.

4. Are happy to get a bigger share of your market (since it’s related to their market) at a really low price.

5. Don’t have any qualms about introducing a product/service and price point combination that’s really tough to compare to anything else your market has been doing.

6. Make decisions and move really quickly because the stakes are so much lower for them.

7. Can get away with using some, but not all, of the marketing mix to beat you at your own game.

8. Compete really effectively by looking at a couple of things (or maybe even only one thing) in a radically different way.

9. Don’t have to fund their new venture out of the dollars coming from your market.

10. Have figured out a different entry point into the customer model in your industry.

11. Don’t (or aren’t) going to look like you in very fundamental ways – size, structure, scope, etc.

12. Don’t have to have a complete offering since they’re appealing to a different market segment.

13. May have glaring weaknesses compared to traditional competitors (i.e., “you”) in areas traditional competitors think are really important but customers are willing to overlook.

14. Will not be focused on delivering the same benefit package you are.

15. Are fine with putting together parts and pieces tried and thrown out by others to compete in new ways.

And for everyone who points to Apple as the great disruptor, this story from Forbes points out that just as yesterday’s category owners can be disrupted, so can today’s seemingly invincible players.

Start looking for your disruptors. And start looking for who you are going to disrupt, because you’ll be just as hard to identify for them.  – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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2

I was in a brief planning conversation about the strategy for an upcoming program. Someone had decided an element of the program had to be “big” to attract customer attention. The challenge was the budget and time necessary to arrange something “big” to attract customer attention would not permit meeting other important planning deadlines. All in all, there was a need to resolve contradictory assumptions within the constraints being faced.

Suppose you’re faced with a similar strategy problem where a variety of apparently necessary strategic variables are not all going to fit together successfully into a strategy. What is a strategic thinking exercise you can use to resolve the contradictions?

A fantastic technique in these situations is to use a two-question strategic thinking exercise to clarify the objective and challenge assumptions.

  • Step 1 of the strategic thinking exercise is to clarify what the objective really is by asking, “What are we trying to achieve?” Pushing for an honest answer to this question can get you to a much needed strategic foundation on which to continue the conversation.
  • Step 2 is to then challenge assumptions individually about what’s required and what isn’t by asking, “What if we eliminated that strategic assumption?”

In this example, the objective wasn’t really having a “big” element. The objective was getting customers to attend the event. With that clarification to the objectives, it was then easier to challenge the assumption that a big attraction was the only way to get customers to attend.

With that strategic foundation in place, we explored a whole variety of other strategies that could be used to attract people based on surprise, intrigue, and affiliation. In working through these possibilities, we identified missing information we needed to gather to make a decision. We also identified an alternative strategy for inviting people that allowed us to meet planning deadlines and incorporate suspense to engage potential attendees in new ways.

The short question-based discussion allowed us to resume making positive forward steps.

Try this two-question strategic thinking exercise (clarifying the objective, then trying to eliminate contradictory assumptions) whenever you feel like you’re in an unsolvable situation. Most likely, you’ll get to a workable solution that the original strategic assumptions would have blocked. – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

 

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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2

As long as Dilbert keeps touching on new ideas and creativity, we’ve got to feature and talk about it on Brainzooming. Do you ever feel as Dilbert does here that the odds are stacked against you in trying to come up with a great new idea?

I know I feel like Dilbert, at least in one area.

Seeing all the books already out there on the variety of topics I might write about has been a real factor in why I haven’t written a Brainzooming book yet (although there’s a book in the offing – which I’m working on right now – so stay tuned).

Dilbert.com

But since it’s usually more fun to work on someone else’s challenges, problems, and anxieties than your own challenges, problems, and anxieties, the big question is, “What is a great new idea Dilbert can do with his me-too app to make it stand out from the crowd?”

24 Ideas for Dilbert

We’ve covered multiple times the benefit of mining ideas already out there for new value. So taking Dilbert’s challenge of coming up with a great new idea for an app that can stand our from the crowd, here is my mind mapping to generate ideas for Dilbert:

  • Pick 1 function of the app and focus on doing it better (Focused)
  • Figure out what a suite of focused apps would look like and do (Complementary)
  • Move the app into a completely new context (Shift)
  • Design the app so it would work for the last person you’d ever expect to use it (Off Target)
  • Create the app for use in a completely different industry (Repurpose)
  • Combine features from across multiple apps in a new way (Aggregate)
  • Grab functions from unrelated apps and make them work together (Integrate)
  • Partner with the app creator to find new markets for what’s already developed (Re-market)
  • Bundle multiple apps into one interface (Combine)
  • Design an app users can modify to better suit their needs (User involvement)
  • Create a customizable app (Variability)
  • Do to the opposite of all the apps in your category (Contrary)
  • Introduce nostalgia into the app (Historical)
  • Make the app work on a less popular platform (Niche)
  • Incredibly simplify the app (Simplify)
  • Remove options from the app to make it more streamlined (Streamline)
  • Use the most important feature and develop multiple ways for the app to handle it (Diversity)
  • Make the app more complex through richer functionality and features (Robust)
  • Create a more sophisticated version of the app (Sophistication)
  • Deliver the benefits the app offers in a better way (Improve)
  • Add more benefits in speed, thoroughness, versatility to the app (Broaden)
  • Leapfrog 2 or 3 generations of the app (Leapfrog)
  • Deliver the most outrageous benefit possible through the app (Extreme)
  • Specifically design the app to destabilize an industry you’re not in right now (Destabilize)

Who knows if all these are stellar ideas? Most likely they aren’t all stellar ideas. But all these ideas have the possibility for more exploration if Dilbert is up to really coming up with a great new idea that is really something different.

24 Ideas for You

If you’re working on something other than an app where these twenty-four ideas might not quite fit, you can still use the twenty-four transformers in parentheses to play around with your run of the mill ideas to put some new life into them:

Focused, Complementary, Shift, Off Target, Repurpose, Aggregate, Integrate, Re-market, Combine, User involvement, Variability, Contrary, Historical, Niche, Simplify, Streamline, Diversity, Robust, Sophistication, Improve, Broaden, Leapfrog, Extreme, Destabilize

24 Ideas for Me?

Now to see how these twenty-four transformers work on coming up with a great new idea for a book! – Mike Brown

Download the free Brainzooming eBook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic creative ideas for any other area of your life! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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9

Suppose you are part of your organization’s management team. The organization is trying to encourage an employee idea program so employees will come up with possibilities to improve your prospects, processes, and products. You really want to get employees involved generating and sharing ideas, but nothing is happening. That may be because your organization is committing some or all of the sixteen employee idea killers in the list below.

Employee Idea Killers

  • The management team does not share information about the organization to allow employees to generate strategic ideas.
  • No one openly requests employees share their expertise and insights.
  • Requiring all employees to participate in the program.
  • Not explaining the impact employees can have on the organization with their participation.
  • Hanging up a suggestion box – either physical or virtual – and expecting the rest to take care of itself.
  • Designing an overly complicated process for employees participation.
  • Demanding employees only share completely brand new ideas.
  • Announcing the organization is only looking for “big” or “game-changing” thinking.
  • The management team exerts pressure for employees to participate – or else.
  • The management team criticizes employee submissions (or allowing others to do so) prematurely and inappropriately.
  • Not demonstrating appreciation when team members participate.
  • Prematurely comparing ideas to one another.
  • Unnecessarily trying to correct and fix ideas in their early stages.
  • Rewarding participating employees with additional unwanted work to document ideas.
  • Expecting someone who has submitted a concept with big impact will always have big impact ideas.
  • Never sharing success stories of the impact employee-generated ideas are having for the organization.

Are any of these sixteen employee idea killers going on in your organization?

Are there other idea killers you see happening?

Are you part of  a management team that is struggling with committing some of these employee idea killers in your organization?

If so, you need to stop it right away and get on with trying to rehabilitate your employee idea generation efforts. Right now. – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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