Tool Stories: Comic Book

From tool to artefact and beyond

In the latest Tool Stories blog, design researcher Sneha Raman shares a tool from the Game Jam project and explores its journey from tool to artefact and back to tool.

Game Jam worked with a group of young people with learning difficulties and sought to create design requirements for a learning/educational game to encourage safe practice online. A series of five labs explored different aspects of the game and included activities such as story-sharing and mapping learning needs.

The design of tools was particularly important in helping to shape engagement tailored to the group. One was a comic book, which provided scenarios to encourage participants to think about areas of risk online and ways of overcoming those problems.

Sneha Raman comic book

Design researcher Sneha Raman with the Comic Book tool. Image credit: Hannah Laycock

Sneha takes up the story of how the tool was used:

“The nature of the group that we were working with definitely influenced the aesthetic and the language of the tool. We had to think about making things visual and engaging, keeping text simple, keeping the language simple… more everyday language or casual tone.

“I think it was effective because of the aesthetic. The general idea behind a comic strip is more light-hearted and that made the prospect of talking about some of these challenges less threatening to the participants. They didn’t feel judged in expressing or sharing some of their experiences using this tool.

“… it (the comic book) transitions between being a tool and an artefact. As the activity progressed, participants started to respond to some of the problems and build onto the scenario presented in the comic strip. The tool captured all their new ideas and thoughts. I think that’s how it became an artefact.

Comic Book in lab

Close-up of the Comic Book being used in the Game Jam Lab. Image credit: Louise Mather

“The artefact was brought back to a subsequent lab with the same audience. Here, it acted as a tool because participants were asked to then think of ways that these solutions could be incorporated into the learning game that they were designing.

“We consistently brought back the artefacts created in previous labs to the next ones. Overall it helped to create continuity but also gave a sense of being valued and having important role to play in the process.”

Read more about the project and the use of the tool here: