The Art of Gamestorming: How to run a brainstorming session to develop a great gaming concept

This is the latest post in Ludo’s guide to great brainstorming. With Ludo, you can unleash your creativity and conceive brilliant new ideas using our innovative AI platform. And with our new collaborative features, it’s never been easier to work with your team virtually to develop creative new game concepts. Whether you’re with them in person, on a remote meeting, or even meeting in a virtual space using VR technology, there are countless innovative ways to brainstorm with technology.  But regardless of the technology involved, before you dive in, here are a few tips on how to run a brilliant ‘gamestorming’ session!

Step 1: Facilitation is key

Once you are in the (virtual) room and you have laid the foundations for a highly creative brainstorming session, it is important to structure it well. Choosing the right person to facilitate the session is key as they will set the agenda, record ideas, ensure equal participation amongst all participants, and keep the session on track. It is important that the facilitator is unbiased and has experience in leading brainstorming sessions in your chosen area – in this case, gamestorming! A good brainstorming facilitator will also have effective methods of helping generate ideas – everything from handing post-it notes out at the beginning of the session if you’re there in person; a more scattered approach of noting down as many ideas and concepts as possible on a virtual whiteboard; or even playing games to generate ideas if you are appearing at the brainstorming session via a VR headset. When it comes to a good gamestorm, facilitation is key!

Step 2: Establish the question, and stick to it

In any brainstorming session, defining the question you want to answer and then sticking to that question is absolutely crucial. This may have been done beforehand, but can also be established during the session itself. This is particularly true when it comes to the art of gamestorming –  if the topic defined in capital letters on the whiteboard right in front of you is something along the lines of ‘the next great RPG’, and you leave the room with over 100 puzzle game ideas, there’s no doubt that some of them may be incredible…but you haven’t resolved or outlined a question that keeps everyone focused. As with any brainstorming session – pick a problem and answer it. In the case of gamestorming – pick a genre, find a niche within it, and run wild!

Step 3: Quantity first, quality will follow

Brainstorming guides such as these should only on very rare occasions descend into a history lesson. This is one of those rare occasions. In his 1953 book Applied Imagination, brainstorming impresario Alex Faickney established four golden rules to running a great brainstorming session: focus on quantity; withhold criticism; welcome unusual ideas; and then combine and improve those ideas. Rules two, three and four mean nothing without that crucial number one – in a great gamestorming session, quantity is key. At the beginning of the session it is great to get as many ideas down as possible, no matter how unachievable or unintelligible some of them may seem. A great idea is seldom conceived right away, and your final concept may end up a mixture of different ideas from multiple minds around the room. A high quantity of ideas is crucial to achieve your final great one.  Sometimes, great ideas are arrived at from the seeds of the craziest!

Step 4: Convergent Thinking – Refining Your Ideas

The ultimate goal of any great gamestorming session is to establish a clear concept that can later be built upon in future planning or strategy meetings. Once you have gathered multiple ideas, there are two widely accepted thinking strategies when it comes to refining these ideas towards the end of a brainstorming session: divergent thinking and convergent thinking. Both involve bringing together multiple ideas to solve a particular problem or answer a particular question. Both have their merits, but it is convergent thinking that is ideally suited to gamestorming. Using this strategy, participants in the session rank their favourite ideas and bring them to the table to be discussed and combined into a final concept. There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to how best to refine your ideas at the end of a brainstorming session in order to achieve an exciting final result, but when it comes to gamestorming – the more you can combine and refine ideas, the better!

Step 5: Next steps

It’s been an exciting few hours, virtual Post-it notes and board markers litter the workspace around you, and you finally have a concept you can be proud of. But this is only half the story. Once you have gamestormed your heart out, it is important to establish what’s next for the project before finishing up. When it comes to a game idea, these next steps can take the form of a multitude of questions. Is it a technically feasible concept, and how can we establish this? What might the costs of such a project be? Is there a market for the idea? Whilst these may not seem like brainstorming considerations, these questions form a key part of whether your session has been successful. Establishing answers to these questions towards the end of your gamestorming will make the next steps easier to navigate, and will give the concept you have created the momentum it deserves.

And there you have it – 5 steps to running a successful brainstorming session with a view to creating the next great game concept! Now you’re clued up on all things gamestorming, you can take advantage of Ludo’s new collaborative features which make it easy to develop exciting and innovative ideas with your team. See you soon!

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