Quynh Huong Vo FS

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The Messy Minds of Creative People

As Scott Kaufman subtly understates, the creative process is very messy, and creative people can be eccentric. The article goes on to explicate this statement by summarizing thought trends and recent psychological research. Kaufman considers three "super-factors" of personality: Plasticity, Divergence and Convergence, as foretelling creativity.

  • Plasticity: experience, extraversion, high energy, and inspiration
    Those score high in this are high in dopamine.
  • Divergence : non-conformity, impulsivity, low agreeableness, and low conscientiousness
    These traits belong to independent-thinkers who could turn out to be jerks.
  • Convergence : high conscientiousness, precision, persistence, and critical sense
    These traits are not commonly associated with creativity.

Although each of these super-factors contradict itself and also seem to be irrelevant to each other, Kaufman points out that they in fact coexist in creative individuals to fuel both processes relating to novelty and processes relating to usefulness. Plasticity and Divergence first correlate to maximize the process of idea generating; then Convergence come to prominence to help select, refine and optimize ideas. Kaufman believes that highly creative individuals have the ability to realize which is important when, and the flexibility to switch back and forth between contrasting characteristics and behaviors as needed.

Ideas for Startups

This article is very successful in analyzing idea blockage, an aspect of creativity that most of us have encountered but few have been able to resolve, at least not in a deliberate and timely manner. I can’t agree more with the theory at the start of the analysis: we can’t come up with ideas for startups because we are too afraid that our ideas won't count for much, nor even be worthy of serious consideration. In fact, I was in many similar situations, where I couldn’t bring myself to find less perfect, but working, ideas/solutions. In this article, Paul Graham offers advice on how to overcome blockage of startup ideas, but his advice also applies to more general cases.

First of all, treat a startup idea, or any idea for that matter, as an endless process of inquiry. It is vital to ask questions that will further thought experimentation and exploration. The cycle of questions and answers can be utterly wrong, so long as mistakes lead us to new places and more ideas. Second, one’s milieu also plays a major role in encouraging inventiveness. The author also discusses many ways to stay "upwind": familiarizing with new technologies; avoiding, if possible, well-paying but boring, non-innovative jobs; befriending those who will bounce ideas with us and accompany us forward. It’s a rule of thumb that startups have more than one founder, and the founders were already friends. Third, Mind-wandering, Daydreaming or Doodling with ideas, are different activities to work your brains. It is helpful to work on existing problems, and train yourself to see problems no one else sees. Other advice includes: look at broken stuffs; redefine problems; try to make things cheaper or/and easier to use; aim for optimization and simplicity.

On the broader community/society level, there always is the advantage of time, efficiency and transparency when working in little groups rather than in large firms. If an increasing number of startups are created to work on product improvement, it would be a defense mechanism against monopolies. By and large, such phenomenon stimulates competition which in turn promotes a wholesome free market. The article also suggests startups work on areas where there is competition, otherwise the work can be difficult to profit or sell.

Design Thinking

Tim Brown defines “Design Thinking” as a methodology that combines innovation mindset with design ethos. The discipline relies on the designer’s sensibility to match people’s needs with the latest technology and business strategy in order to produce value and possibly new market. Whereas visual appeal as a tactic escalates consumption, the author believes that an even better future lies in strategic (re)design of human-centered activities: processes, services, IT-powered interactions, entertainments, and ways of communicating and collaborating.

The case study of Kaiser hospital shows that a good solution for a systematic problem can be simple and elegant; the actual difficulty is that no one had really determined to make things better. Design thinkers are the modern-life inventors who are ready to take on such a role. A great idea results from a need/will to innovate and constant observation, followed by repeating cycles of prototyping, testing, and refinement. The author notes that the design process goes through three spaces:

  • Inspiration: where circumstances motivate innovation
  • Ideation: brainstorming, developing ideas and prototyping solutions
  • Implementation: charting a part to market

It is a useful note that during Ideation, prototypes should only cost minimum time, effort and money to generate feedback. It is important to take a step back to observe emerging circumstances and possibly launch Ideation times and again; until after the design solution proves to be as effective as it can possibly be, refinement comes in and Implementation takes place.

Following this principle, IDEO, where the author is CEO, helped Shimano, a Japanese manufacturer of bicycle components, create a new category of high-end "Coasting" biking which is built more for pleasure than sports; products are bicycles with automatic gear shifting, easy to operate, enjoy and maintain. Other case studies are Aravind Eye Care System having employed similar design thinking process to achieve great success in bringing quality ophthalmic service and products to remote areas of India, as well as Bank of America's 2005 "Keep the Change" campaign that assists users in effortless money-saving.

Design for Action

Design has evolved from its product-oriented nature and its role as merely an aspect of creativity into a branch of intellectual innovation. Design thinking involves in creating user-interface software, corporate strategy and organizational design. Such a growth in the complexity of the design process brings our attention to a need to create not only “artifacts” but also reinvent the business model behind them. Very complex or large-scale artifacts sometimes call for a complete (thus intimidating) transformation of business ecosystems. The author suggests two simultaneous and parallel approaches to such large-scale change: design of artifact in question + design of the intervention that brings it to life.

The core of intervention design is to engage the prototypes with users as early as possible, and conduct short, steady and continuous cycles of improvement to the product, until the users were delighted with it. Rapid-cycle prototyping is immensely effective in securing funding and commitment, as well as in upkeeping the morale of developing and management teams. The similar principle of iterative interaction applies when it comes to persuading decision makers. Communication throughout every stage of the design process is crucial. In fact, to have the responsible executive him/herself define proposed problem, confirm proposed possibilities, and affirm proposed analyses, is a surefire, unbeatable way to win his/her commitment.

An exemplar leader adopting this participative approach is Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor (RP), CEO of Peru’s Interbank.

  • Strategy for Interbank: RP involved his management team in all aspects of learning and developing business insights, for them to be able to make strong, competitive, innovative strategies, and support ones when they see them. Every year, RP sent managers to programs at top schools and companies to study and research innovative ideas.
  • Education: RP's ultimate goal is to transform Peru’s economy and bring about significant social change. So he planned to open a business group operating school for middle class children. Instead of plowing it through, he took a step back to gradually prime stakeholders, involve teachers, parents and students in a six-month design process. The result was Innova, a technology-enabled school with online-education platforms and progressive educational model. As involved stakeholders knew and supported the prototypes and subsequently pilot program, the actual launch of the school was of course a huge success.
  • Local businesses: Envisioning an emerging middle class in the provinces, Rodriguez-Pastor sought to expand Intercorp’s supermarket chain, Supermarcados Peruano. Having realized that these retail ventures could easily destroy small businesses and jeopardize local economies, Intercorp launched Peru Pasion program to help farmers and manufacturers upgrade their capabilities to supply their local supermarket. Through symbiotic interaction, Intercorp achieves its goal and generates growth for regional suppliers, creating a win-win situation.

What Is Strategy?

In this article, Michael Porter argues that in chase of productivity, quality, and speed, some leaders have come to master the ultimate set of management tools which, despite generating operational effectiveness (OE), can distract leaders from the true importance of strategic positioning (SP).

By definition, OE is "performing similar activities better than rivals perform them”. In order to maximize OE, leaders employ management tactics such as TQM, benchmarking, outsourcing, partnering, reengineering etc. Its range of innovative activities is easy to emulate, and demand constant change and strong inclination to optimization.

In contrast, SP means "performing different activities from rivals, or performing similar activities in different ways”. In a way SP is monopolization of a effective way/method/system of activities that function a business. There are three underlying principles of SP in practice:

  • SP is the making of a unique and valuable position/conceptualization and standardization of a set of functioning activities. Business elements such as organizational structure, systems, and processes must be strategy-specific.
  • Activities that bring gains in an area, but at the expense of another area, such as growth stimulation, price competition, mass sales, price promotions etc. ought to be avoided. Essential to leadership is this Zen ability to make trade-offs, and abstain from taking part in temptingly and obviously profitable realms, in exchange for preservation of the advantage in a company's unique strategic position.
  • To implement a good strategy requires doing many things well, and integrating them; hence the need to be fit among all of a company’s activities.

The author suggests that leadership is essential in deepening and sustaining a strategic position. True leadership involves discipline, great communication, and the ability to make clear strategic choices/trade-offs.

The Five Competitive Forces that Shape Strategy

Here Michael Porter looks at a set of five competitive forces: threat of entrants, power of suppliers, power of buyers, threat of substitute products or services, and rivalry among existing competitors. In an industry, if these forces are benign, companies are profitable; if they are too intense, companies are at critical risk.

  • Threat of entrants: New entrants bring new capacity and a desire to gain market share that put pressure on prices, costs, and rate of investment. When the threat of new entrants is hight, existing companies keep their prices low to deter new entrants. It is important to note that the threat of new entrants drives profitability down (not the physical entry of these new competitors).
  • The power of suppliers: Powerful suppliers can capture more value by charging higher prices, limiting the quality of services, or shifting costs to industry participants. Conditions for the power of suppliers include: its goods is more concentrated than the industry it sells to, supplier does not depend heavily on the industry, industry participants face switching costs in changing suppliers, supplier offers differentiated products/there is no substitute for its goods, or supplier can threaten to integrate into the industry.
  • The power of buyers: Powerful customers can capture more value by forcing down prices, demanding better quality or more service, and playing industry participants against each other. Buyers are especially powerful if they have negotiating power in the industry. Conditions for the power of buyers include: there are few buyers, the industry’s products are standardized or undifferentiated, and buyers face few switching costs in changing vendors.
  • Threat of substitutes: A substitute performs the same or a similar function as an industry’s product by a different means. For example, Bluray-disc producers compete with movie theaters. The threat of a substitute is high if: it offers an attractive trade off to the industry’s product, the buyer’s cost of switching to the substitute is low, or firms cannot read each other well.
  • Rivalry among competitors: This is dependent on the intensity and the basis of competition. Price competition is most destructive to profitability as value transfers directly from the industry to customers and gives them the most benefit. Zero-competition happens when competitors aim to meet the same customer needs or compete on the same attributes. Positive-sum competition happens when companies compete on different attributes, services, customer support etc.

A strategist must keep in mind all five forces and understand the condition of its overall structure at all times and especially when forming a strategy. After formulating a strategy, everyone should be informed of and act in conformity with it. Another notable point is eliminating rivals completely is not a good strategy: this will raise profit but will certainly and quickly attract new and potentially even more powerful competitors.

Strategy begins with goals, and a good goal is achievable. We form our goals based on our knowledge of internal resources and capacities in relation to our understanding of the business context.

SWOT I: External Analysis

External analysis, including (O)pportunities and (T)hreats, looks into the existing conditions of the market, governed by a collection of interactive forces: customers, pricing constraints, competitors, distribution/transportation issues, technology, macroeconomy, regulation, workstyle trends, uncertainties, suppliers, potential partners.

In today's world of constantly evolving technologies, it makes sense that staying abreast and on top of technology often provides a crucial cognitive advantage. A strategist should be the first to know if there is another developing technology that will potentially affect business, no matter whether such technology is in direct contingence with or as a potential substitute for the company's strategic products.

Workstyle and lifestyle trends are likely to affect big corporates and major industries. Trendsetting strategists are gravitating towards solutions that emphasize instantaneity and convenience.

  • Example: The exponentially increasing use of telecommunications and the Internet (comes with it is the national epidemic of obesity) to work from home, research, shop, arrange travels, manage finances in a much more efficient fashion

Economic growth propels demographic changes, which in turn will decide the future of said economy:

  • Example: On a macroeconomic scale, along the two coasts in the US, business executives need to propose viable, affordable housing solutions and transportations to attract talents.
  • Example: As the aging populations place more weight on social welfare, inevitable social changes are underway: income tax raise, need for medical care networks, strain on pension systems etc.

It is important to heed the fastened connection between social forces and trends with businesses and economy. Intelligent adaptation to them will benefit the company and thus must have a part in the consideration of any working strategy.

As noted in previous readings, the success of a strategic position lies in the company's well-informed choice of customers. The sharper the portrait of targeted customers is, the better. One useful tactic is market segmentation: to divide a large market into categories with similar features of age, gender, location, type of users, income, behavior, etc. An exercise of this analysis could reveal the area of customers with strong potential for profits. Another important parameter is price sensitivity of customers, indicating the relationship between price and customer demand. Some goods and services demonstrate relatively low price sensitivity are merchandises like oil, gas, or high-end products. High price sensitivity goods include food and cosmetics etc.

Price elasticity of demand = % change in quantity / % change in price

Predictions on customers' response to price change can be determined by questionnaires, focus groups, and market experiments, usually followed by calculations of its impact on total revenue.

Last but not least, a good strategist knows her/is enemy. Not much else needs to be said but that "Few areas of research provides greater dividends for strategists than this one". I also found noteworthy the revised piece of advice from Michael Porter's analysis of the five forces governing industries: to "stake out a position less vulnerable to attack from head-to-head opponents, whether established or new, and less vulnerable to erosion from the direction of buyers , suppliers, and substitute goods".

SWOT II: Internal Analysis

Internal Analysis, including (S)trengths and (W)eaknesses, looks into resources and experience readily available to a business, comprising of forces as follows: current performance, brand power, cost structure, product portfolio, R&D pipeline, technical mastery, employee skills, company culture.

The most important area to internal analysis is core competencies/processes. By definition, the term refers to a company's "expertise or skills in key areas that directly produce superior performance". This core competency/process is what the company is uniquely good at and that customers value. One way to access core competencies is through benchmarking, comparing your set of activities with a standard set by rivals or even companies in other areas. Benchmarking provides valuable assessment on whether to conduct process/product improvement.

Financial condition of a company always needs to be kept in check. Before the company implements a new strategy, it must carefully assess its financial prospect: 1) Cash flows: concentrate cash to finance an initiative; 2) Access to outside capital: borrowing capacity, ability to attract investment or equity capital; 3) Current spending plans and how it might limit your capital access, 4) Hurdle rate, or minimum rate of expected return, from new projects. The new strategy must be capable of improving existing returns.

Almost every enterprise faces problems of flexibility. Naturally a bulkier company is less capable to modify its processes. A change-ready company is almost always better in terms of management. It is well prepared to discard what is not working and adapting strategies capable of producing better results. Therefore, change-ready company are usually small, nonhierarchical, prone to collaborative work and supportive of good change, and has a work culture where good performance is rewarded.

The best way to perform an internal analysis is by gathering the collective judgement from many perceptive individuals representing different functions within the organization. A step-by-step method for organizing this collective intelligence is offered in the article.

Experience Prototyping

As expected from IDEO, the concept of experiential experiment is the focal aspect of this article.

Concept: Marion Buchenau and Jane Fulton Suri see an experience as “a dynamic, complex and subjective phenomenon” that influences and is influenced by other people, places, and objects. As the quality of any experience changes and evolves over time, it is important to perceive an experience along with its immediate contextual factors.

Definition: Prototype is any kind of representation, in any medium (e.g. storyboards, sketches, computer-based drafting, virtual 3D modeling etc.), that is designed to understand, explore and communicate the real experience of a product, space, system. Through prototype designers simulate the user experience of a design product in its full subjectivity. The idea of design evolves into the design of integrated and holistic experience, rather than designing an artifact that ends in itself.

What: Prototyping examples are storyboards, sketches, computer-based drafting, virtual 3D modelling; proxy devices, role-playing setups, improvisational theater; in short, all that can provide clear feedback which would lead to differentiation of understanding, vision and potentially the design product.

Why: The presence of prototypes establishes a common vision of the desirable experience for designers, customers, and other stakeholders.

When: Experience Prototyping is valuable in three stages:

  • Understanding Existing User Experiences: The questions to ask at this stage are
What are the contextual, physical, temporal, sensory, social, and cognitive factors involved and can affect design?
What is the essence of the existing user experience that new design should preserve?

  • Exploring and Evaluating Design Ideas: in order to direct the team towards increasingly informed development of the user experience. The questions to ask are:
How will people feel about the system?
Will it change the way people behave or think about an activity?
Is it compelling to them in their own context?
  • Communicating Ideas: The purpose is to let a client, a design colleague/user understand the subjective value of a design idea by directly experiencing it or persuade them step-by-step to approve its developed versions. Sometimes it is used to develop an attitude and language to solve design problems.

How: There should also be multiple prototypes throughout different stages of the process. It is advisable for designers to observe someone else having an experience instead of being too caught up in it and then generalizing your own personal and subjective experience without cross-checking with real users. A downside of this method is the disappointment customers occasionally feel when they have become unshakably attached to an early prototype and perceived it as the final solution, and then the company couldn’t deliver it.

The Design of Everyday Things

As technology and society progress, designs become increasingly complex that they even defeat their whole purpose of being useful for people. However, good design would have clues point to its discoverability (that allows users to figure out what actions are possible and where and how to perform them) and clarify users' understanding (of how the product is supposed to be used) of its functions. Great design, on top of that, produces pleasurable experiences. Norman believes that it is the duty of the machines and their designers to understand and assist people, not otherwise; hence the birth of human-centered design (HCD) as a design philosophy and also a set of practice procedures.

Core Points:
- HCD puts human needs, capabilities, and behavior first, and designs to accommodate said behavior.
- HCD prioritizes both discoverability and understanding.
- HCD makes communication possible especially when things go wrong with a design.
- HCD iterates tests of ideas and productions of multiple prototypes to understand the specification of the thing that’s going to be designed.

Principles of HCD:

To achieve discoverability requires fulfilling fundamental psychological concepts:

  • Affordances: the relationship between the properties of a physical object and the capabilities of the agent to determine how the object should be used. They might not be visible but they still exist.
  • Signifiers: Whereas affordances determine what actions are possible, Signifiers communicate where the action should take place. Designers work to optimize the practicality of signifiers. Signs, labels, drawings, arrows, diagrams are signifiers that inform us about the nature of the world and relevant social activities, although explanatory hand-lettered signs pasted on a product is proof that it is poor design.
  • Mappings: provides a clear and necessary way to remember and understand a control and its results. Natural mappings employ spatial, biological, or sometimes cultural, elements, as well as design principles of natural grouping and patterning of controls and feedback.
  • Feedback: communicates the results of an action. Lack of feedback, poor designed system of feedback, or too much feedback are all distracting, uninformative and anxiety-provoking. Good feedback has to be planned and prioritized appropriately.

To achieve true understanding of a design requires:

  • Conceptual models: A comprehensive explanation, usually highly simplified but necessarily useful, of how something works. A conceptual could be one coherent, accessible, and in close proximity with the actual product. There are multiple conceptual models of a product for different agent (users, designers, maintenance staff etc.)

In addition, a system image is a mental conceptual model formed through experience, training and instruction. The combined information from interaction with product, reading of manuals, searching for online information creates the system image. A good system image must be complete and coherent, and especially avoidant of contradictions.

Challenge: Technology offers the potential to simplify life, but poor design of it can add unnecessary complexities and increase our difficulty and frustration. Therefore, measures need to be taken to keep technology in control and in service for people. Solution: Don Norman offers a solution of unifying standards of design and design principles, as well as points out the need for cooperative efforts from multiple disciplines: marketers, engineers, manufacturers, support staff etc. Especially when all experts understand a product from the particular viewpoint of their discipline, it is vital that they understand each other and come together to work on successful products.

- How simple can an explanation of a design get? What if the product is innately complex, how do its qualities of discoverability and understanding show through a simplified models of function? Is there actually no need for complex designs? - How about interactive designs, like GIS maps or games, where things are constantly in motion? Will these principles apply similarly to create well-designed interactive products?

Business Model Canvas

A business model is defined by 9 building blocks:

1. Customer Segment plays a fundamental role in any successful business model. A group of customers should be placed into segments if they differ in terms of needs, distribution channels, relationship, profitabilities, willingness to pay.
2. Value Proposition for a specific Customer Segment describes a distinctive bundle of products and services that create a value, with added features and improved performance at least, and being totally new/disruptive/unique at best. Noteworthy areas for new VP are technology-related, tailoring/customizing specific needs, design, branding + style setting, price/cost/quality balance, convenience.
3. Channels: ways to reach and communicate with specific customers about value proposition. Channel phases include: awareness, evaluation, purchase, delivery, post purchase support. Two types of channels are Owned Channels: direct and usually in-house, and Partner Channels: low margins, expansive business.
4. Customer Relationships describes the types of relationships a company establishes with specific Customer Segments, including: Personal, Dedicated Personal, Self-service, Automated, Community, Co-creation.
5. Revenue Streams: represent the cash a company can generate from each Customer Segment, including asset sale, usage fee, subscription fees, lending/renting/leasing, licensing, brokerage fees, advertising. Transaction Revenues are from one-time payments, Recurring Revenues from ongoing payment + long-standing customers.
6. Key Resources: the most important assets that make a business model work and can be categorized as: physical, intellectual, human, and financial.
7. Key Activities: the most important things a company must do to make its business model work, ranging from Production, Problem solving, Platform/Network.
8. Key Partnerships: the network of suppliers and partners that make the business model work, including: strategic alliances, cooperation, joint ventures, buyer-supplier relationships. There are three common motivations for creating partnerships: optimization and economy of scale, reduction of risk and uncertainty, acquisition of resources and activities.
9. Cost Structure: all cost needed to operate a business model. Two broad classes of business model CS are cost-driven and value-driven. Costs can be fixed, variable, economical in terms of scale and cost.

Business Model – Kamis



Games hold the potential of generating a wide range of emotions and experiences, from the subtle to the extreme, from the mundane to the sublime, including but not limited to pleasure, desire, anxiety, release, wonder, sense of accomplishment, sense of belonging etc. Researchers have recently proposed that gaming mechanism in video games are an ideal training ground for acquiring an incremental theory of intelligence, because they provide players concerte, immediate feedback regarding specific efforts players have made. This feedback serves as motivation that consistently reiterates the process of learning.

Immediate and concrete feedback in video games (e.g., through points, coins, dead ends in puzzles) serves to reward continual effort and keep players within what Vygotsky (1978, p. 86) coined the “zone of proximal development.” This motivational “sweet spot” balances optimal levels of challenge and frustration with sufficient experiences of success and accomplishment (Sweetser & Wyeth, 2005).

In other words, beside stimulating one's primal, physical reflexes, participating in games are effective training exercises for a specific kind of cerebral cognition.

On the other hand, the activity of gaming emerges as a potential form of participatory art and a platform for social interaction.

Over 70% of gamers play their games with a friend, either cooperatively or competitively (Entertainment Software Association, 2012). For example, World of Warcraft—a multiplayer fantasy game set in a massive virtual world—boasts12 million regular players, and Farmville—one of the most popular social networking games on Facebook— hosted over 5 million daily users in 2012 (Gill, 2012). In these virtual social communities, decisions need to be made on the fly about whom to trust, whom to reject, and how to most effectively lead a group. Given these immersive social contexts, we propose that gamers are rapidly learning social skills and prosocial behavior that might generalize to their peer and family relations outside the gaming environment (Gentile & Gentile, 2008; Gentile et al., 2009).

The space of game fosters endless possibility. It serves to challenge conventional comprehension, and negotiate established ways of being. At their core, good games are dynamic, interactive systems aesthetically populated by elements of storytelling, complexity, emergence, organization, elegant representation, and visual appeal. With strong potential for social, cultural and educational purposes, the prospects and further applications of games are a realm inviting exploration and experimentation.


Questions: The starting point of my company is a scenario: What if all that happens in video games is pushed out to reality? What is potentially good when virtual interaction becomes real and face-to-face? In this kind of real gaming environment, could we eliminate entirely games' most disputed harms of seeding violent behavior to the psyche of players, simply by ruling that no form of physical violence is acceptable? Could there exist the best possible version of gaming, consisting of healthy competition/cooperation? Can we upgrade games to include a different plane of action? How can we think about playing games differently?

  • Premise 1: A gaming environment can be considered a microscopic society.
  • Premise 2: Games have 3 main schema: Rules, Play, Culture. So does society in a way; with its Rules/Laws, Action/Acitvity, and Culture. The difference is that in games, our punishments are not real and cannot be truly felt.
  • Thought 3: If gaming environment is treated as a small, simplified society, what kinds of game could be played in this environment? What would make games most meaningful?

1. Gamien is a gaming company focusing on designing real-time, interactive gaming events, at a location of customers' choice (e.g. mountain village, art museums, subway systems etc.) Gamien designs games to promote the element of live-action role-playing. Our target demographics are people from age 18 to 40 who are interested in role-playing games. Anyone who is physically capable and likely to possess the means and time to engage in gameplay for a prolonged period of time. We need players to be at least of age to be take full responsibility for their actions. What does Gamien offer to these participants? At the start, we place certain rules and restrictions so as to replicate typical characteristics of an existing society A. Series of games are designed to augment specific aspects of these initial conditions. According to the aforementioned incremental theory of intelligence, players can be trained to gradually think in a certain way. This means that they also can be pushed to certain directions of action. We can potentially use the first few games as steps in a longer priming process, to have the players familiarize with the conditions of this simulated society. What if we use this to throw in an actual problem in society A that needs to be solved but has never been solved? An example would be the problem of "How to reduce costs during presidential campaigns". There is a major possibility that players will behave similarly to how they would do in society A, which leads to the confirmed outcome that costs can only increase. But there is also a possibility that some players would take a different, unexpected course of action. If the latter happens, it would be delightful. We might have found an alternative to society A's conventional way of being. Potential customer segment is research entities: sociologists, economists, policists, psychologists etc. They might come to Gamien to seek help testing out their hypotheses about human behavior. Gamien is middle agent who sets up the desired experiment conditions so as to obtain calculated outcomes.

Comment: But can this even even be a legitimate business? I think this proposal is intense and unrealistic. Like one of those Milgram experiments. A severe issue with Gamien is whether it is alright to make people behave in a certain way without letting them know nor have a say? It is asking for definite Yes's or Nos, limiting freedom of action, forcing out behaviors, and basically coercion; thus unethical. On the other hand, research entities are too confined and restrained to even resort to gaming as a mechanism to test out their hypotheses. Furthermore, in agreeing to do so without obtaining consent from participants first, Gamien fundamentally treats the players wrong. Gamien fails to serve anyone.
Take: The idea that a differentiated pool of thought and behavior can be learned throughout a arranged sequence of games is very interesting. This element of strategic planning, if placed in the hands of game participants themselves would make the games become complex and sophisticated.

2. Kamis is a gaming company focusing on designing real-time, outdoor game camps, at a preselected locations (e.g. mountain village, art museums, subway systems, castle, etc.) Our games are designed to promote element of strategic planning. Our target market are high school, college students and newly graduates within the age range 18-25. They are of age and most likely to possess the means and time and willingness to engage in gameplay for a prolonged period of time. At the start, we tell people a story, a narrative, that is fun and compelling enough so that they desire to participate in gameplay. Competition and cooperation, as found in Prisoners' dilemma, are complementary elements to participants' interaction. Kamis wants to encourage this, but not explicitly. With the factor of competition, games can be fun and intense at the same time; but the players get to decide whether they want to compete or cooperate: to leave open paths. We can create conditions where players can choose their course of actions, adapt a personal strategy for playing. Players have two tasks of playing: against us-the system, and against each other. To beat the system, they need to reach a goal, a destination at the end of the road, an objective "prize". Obstacles can be puzzles. But in order to reach the "prize", players have to play against each other, or they might cooperate. This is where gameplay becomes strategic and the fun begins. Freedom to create and choose trajectories of action is greatly encouraged. This way, inclusion of uncertainty makes gameplay much less boring because it produces multiple unexpected outcomes. Chaos is fun and necessary in games, esp. real games.

Comment: This might be where this gaming company should gravitate towards. One of the most meaningful thing a gaming company could do is to create fun and spread positive feelings. The question posed is what kind of fun can do this? What kind of fun is fun?

A found image: MarketResearchFocus.jpg
Source: Article "The Benefits of Playing Video Games" – link in Reference List. This image says that the most complex + social genre is strategy, and that the genre of puzzle is simple and non-social. I must disagree! There can be social puzzles. Many people can play Jigsaw puzzles at the same time; that way it's much more fun. What if we can manage to bring puzzles to the level of complexity of genre strategy? It would be fun. How about pairing strategic planning and puzzle solving up?

A found report on Gamer Demographics and User Data Gamers Demographic 03.jpgGamers Demographic 07.jpg
Source: ESA 2015 Essential Facts about the Computer and Video game industry, link in Reference List.

Selective Analysis: The high percentage of players (39%) who most frequently play social games. Thus, there is a critical and undeniable need for social interaction while playing games. 31% of video gamers play Puzzle/Board Games/Card Games frequently. Thus, percentage of gamers who play these games make up the largest part of the whole game market. In the analysis of Computer Game market, Strategy games is the most popular genre (37.7%), Role-Playing ranks third (20.2%). In the analysis of Video Game market, Strategy is eighth popular game genre with 4.1% share in the market; Role-playing is the fourth popular genre (9.5%). Thus, Strategy and Role-playing games are generally popular genres among gamers.

Kamis is a gaming company specialized in creating live-action place-specific theme game camps. A game camp is where a selected number of players participate in a series of games positioned along a fictional narrative. These games are organized so as to involve complex puzzle solving and strategy planning simultaneously. For each game event, we conceptualize a theme, design games, adapt them onto a specific location, and overlook processes of implementation and execution. Of the belief that gaming is a holistic experience, Kamis creates games that are extraordinarily entertaining, while also naturally trigger and latently nurture positive emotions, creativity, intellectuality, and social capabilities.

Our target demographics are high-schoolers, college students and newly graduates in the age range 18-25. These people have likely played a myriad of strategy and puzzle video/computer games during childhood and adolescence, and are ready to engage in prolonged, concentrated game camps (4-14 days) together with others.


G's SWOT.png


+ Potentially low publicity and prestige at first:

  • Thought 1: It is not necessary that we must have high publicity and prestige at first. Staying lowkey at first would allow more room for experimentation and discovery of good trends and tendencies of game design. If we consistently offer good services, certainly more people will soon know of Kamis.
  • Thought 2: When it is time to raise the profile of Kamis, the idea of a launching PR Campaign can be useful. The launching campaign would take the form of a prototypical game event. Selected stakeholders and potential customers from various institutions, the young gaming community, and selected students receive surprise invitations to participate in the event.

+ How to create strong incentive to play?

  • A solution to this might be business strategy "Free as a Business Model" mentioned p. 88-107 in the book Business Model Generation.
The freemium model is characterized by a large base of free service users subsidized by a small base of paying users. Users enjoy a free basic service and can pay for a premium service that offers additional benefits. Important points:
  • The platform is the most important asset in the freemium pattern, because it allows free basic services to be offered at low marginal cost.
  • The cost structure of this pattern is tripartite: usually with substantial fixed costs, very low marginal costs for services to free accounts, and (separate) costs for premium accounts.
  • Customer relationship must be automated and low cost in order to handle large numbers of free users.
  • An important metric to follow is the rate at which free accounts convert into premium accounts.
  • Formulae:
INCOME = {Users x % of premium users x price of premium users} x Growth rate x Churn rate
COST OF SERVICE = {Users x % of Free users x Cost of service to free users} + {Users x % of Premium users x Cost of service to Premium users}
OPERATING PROFIT = Income - Cost of Service - Fixed Costs - Customer Acqiusition Costs
Note: Customer Acquisition Costs is the total expenses a company incurs to acquire new user. Fixed Costs = system costs.
  • Thought: I should consider creating and maintaining an online platform (a website!) to inform potential customers of Kami's activities. This website offer a free, basic, relevant service to potential customers, subtlely feeding them information about what they are going to get themselves into. Because the cost of actual participation in game camp is potentially high (ranging form $100 to $5000 depending on transportations and venues), customers need to feel safe about the fact that they are giving a lot of money to strangers. The role of this website is similar to the online representative of a flight or travel agency. It must give out a sense of reliability and security. But it also shoulders more important roles: it is a channel of communication. The presence of this website would facilitate marketing, and act as a tangible reference point when talking to customers or when customers speak to each other.
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+ Deter potential participants due to their apprehension about lack of certain skills.

  • Thought 1: To reconcile with reality, young people are quite self-confident.
  • Thought 2: If Kamis has positioned itself as a platform for incremental learning, this should be what least to be apprehended about.

+ How to retain attention from participants after long periods of time?

  • Thought 1: This question is not clear. In what context do "long periods of time" exist? Within gameplay? Between different camps?
  • Thought 2: Assume it is both. First case-time distance within gameplay, this is a problem for the phase of game designing: to make intriguing and fun games, not for this phase of business strategizing. Anyhow, note to self to consider putting time limits along gameplay. Second case, in order to get attention, isn't it better if camps are far enough apart? Isn't it true that the rarer a commodity is, the more sought-after it automatically becomes?


+ Competitors from more traditional gaming platforms: video/computer/console games, VR games.

  • Thought 1: The kind of service we offer is the antipode of video/computer/console games. Maybe Kamis should position itself as the next level of strategy computer games.
  • Thought 2: It might take a while for VR technology to unify its functionality and appearances and establish its own category in the gaming business. Kamis considers getting involved in developing this technology, seeing its potential of providing accessible + designable/modifiable gaming settings.

+ Competitors from more traditional gaming environments: camping organizations, scouting clubs, larping services.

  • Thought 1: Can be solved by further differentiating mechanism of gaming and devising appropriate methods to retain customer loyalty.
  • Thought 2: To boost morale, revisit strengths - combination of strategic planning and puzzle solving, possible complex layers of strategic planning from players, difficulty of games. This is also a novel way of gaming.

+ Gaming mechanism is replicable:

  • Thought 1: Unmatchable quality service and full package of relevant service could be a way to deter competitors.
  • Thought 2: Even if copying happens, having a competitor can be thought of as a desired situation.



Physical: - Although planning game events generally doesn’t require a local presence and Kamis generally organizes its functions and activities to serve seasonal needs, we realize the importance of creating the most favorable conditions for players to encourage participation. At least in early games in the tournament, as registration fills up, we select gamers who are geographically close to one another to participate in concentrating game events near their home locations.

When proposals are written up, many factors of logistics are not considered and problems during implementation are not expected. The process of adapting a proposal to a game venue is called locationalization. During locationalization, we revise and make certain either adjustments or if possible, improvements, to the actual implementation plan.

Economic: Current economic conditions continue to challenge new businesses. Understanding the sweeping of economic crises, Kamis prepares for scenarios of economic crises. It does not aim to grow or expand, but determines to uphold its unique position in the market by providing excellent services to those who need them. In order to do that, innovation ability is requisite to survival in a business where products have short life cycles. It is also crucial to rely upon skills from other disciplines, and always keep abreast of technologies.
Social: The fluctuations in customers’ need and market stability may have deterred potential entrepreneurs, but the opportunity for financial rewards are still remarkable. As Kamis targets two very specific customer segments: highschool + college students and educational institutions from the arena of elitist intellect, this company is generally expected to be less likely affected by economic instability than other businesses.
Technological: Advances in technology have enhanced the ability for teams from multiple disciplines to work together on common projects. The proliferation of Internet and its increasingly advanced infrastructure strongly encourages data sharing and communication.

OPPONENTS: - In the market, there are individual game event organizers for LARP or for video games, but I haven't been able to find any companies that specializes in making strategic battles, with strong narratives, that last for a period of time (e.g, a weekend, a week etc.) and make players play against or supportive of each other; each game event itself is an environment conducive to competition and cooperation equally.
- There exist many non-profit organizations whose specialty is to organize discrete leadership camps or events for high schoolers and college students. Gamien differentiates by its focus on strategic planning, and the long-term engagement innate in the format of tournaments
- Independent game events that are similar in certain respects to what I have in mind were organized by college students:
+ Extended Version of Mafia
+ Masquerade LARP
+ MIT Mystery Hunt


Game Camp Program Proposal 1
Details: Game Camp Proposal 1
Projected Age Range for Participants: 18-20


Kamis is a gaming company specialized in creating live-action place-specific theme game camps. A game camp is where a selected number of players participate in a series of games positioned along a fictional narrative. These games are organized so as to involve complex puzzle solving and strategy planning simultaneously. Kamis creates games that are extraordinarily entertaining, but also conducive to and latently enhancing positive emotions, creativity, intellectuality, and social capabilities. Our core competencies spread through all stages of game design: we closely overlook almost all stages of each camp, from conceptualization and prototyping to adaptation and execution. Of the belief that gaming is holistic, we design every detail of your gaming experience.

Our target demographics are high-schoolers, college students and newly graduates in the age range 18-25, who have likely played a myriad of strategy and puzzle video/computer games during childhood and adolescence, and are now ready to engage in prolonged, concentrated and real-game camps, each last for 4-14 days, with the presence of others. Join us if you want to be taken along our incredibly journeys, immersed in our daring scenarios, and engaged in gaming situations where you will be intensely frustrated yet extraordinarily entertained. With our diverse combination of strategic and puzzle games, layers of competition and cooperation can be induced through multiple levels of interactivity. With a balance between control and unpredictability, we guarantee you deep satisfaction and intense pride when formidable goals are reached. Kamis offers the cleverest, trickiest, and superb fun to your realistic gaming experiences.

Curious customers are welcome to sign up for a free account on our website, kamis.com. It is the only information center where you may get to know our gaming system, access your profile, accolades and due balances, subscribe to forums, join communities, watch interactive maps and live streaming. An application of kamis.com can be installed to all mobile devices for your convenience. In our listing of upcoming game camps, only registered members can reserve and make payment for their participation. 30 days before the actual game camp takes place, an announcement will be made regarding time, time duration, location, and theme of the camp. Registered members who can solve the opening puzzle bmiefore this announcement will be refunded in full, and can come to the live camp free of charge. After the announcement, although dropout is no longer accepted, new registrations are still welcomed.

Kamis is a brand new gaming company started by two students who are avid and active gamers. We understand our market through firsthand experience and develop games that set new standards for strategic live action games. Aiming to create new trends to the lifestyle of young gamers, we maintain our unique position in the market by providing entertainment at its finest. In order to fulfill this mission, we are constantly recruiting new talents with a passion for game-making. Every year, winners of all game camps that have taken place will have the option to participate in the X Annual game event; the winner of this special event is invited to work with us in the process of creating new games, events, and tournaments.

Our distant competitors as of now are other camping organizations, scouting clubs and larping villages. However, our uniqueness unfolds through woven networks of strategy planning seen as inherent in this novel format of game series, in the headachy difficulty of our gameplay that is sweet because of the very frustrations it sows. Kamis takes great pride in the excellence of our service.

Our headquarters is located in Boston, where there is strong intellectual tradition and a large gaming population. The venue of each game camp, however, varies. Kamis partners with small, local manufacturers to produce necessary gadgets that serve gameplay, and also as souvenir merchandise after gameplay.


Trial 1:





Intro to Location-based Games
Mobile app to serve Location-based Games

Intro to Live Acton Role Playing Games
School of LRPG
LRPG Event
LRPG Event in Finland
LRPG Village

Article: I was eaten by zombies: an insider's guide to live action gaming | Mary Hamilton
Article: The Benefits of Playing Video Games | Isabela Granic, Adam Lobel, and Rutger C. M. E. Engels
Article: The Morals of Chess | Benjamin Franklin
Article: ESA 2015 Essential Facts about the Computer and Video game industry

Book: Rules of Play - Game Design Fundamentals | Salen, Katie, and Zimmerman, Eric

Business/Product/Service Ideas

Puzzles Inc.

Private/Worker-Owned Company
Type of Product: Private Games

Puzzles Inc. was created with the aim of providing interactive gaming experiences to customers. The company focuses on designing private games and build them into a structural storytelling experience. Target customers are hardcore gamers. There are two stages of delivery: 1) in mystery boxes, and 2) unfolding them in gaming tournaments. All gaming experiences engage and challenge participants' reflexes and intellectuality.

1. Players subscribe to receive monthly mystery boxes. Within each mystery box is a complete collection of original games; each is connected and leading to another. A small percentage of players who solve them all earliest will receive a treasure box. Puzzle Inc.'s premier mystery boxes are released at the end of every year. If the player is among the earliest to solve all the puzzles in the premier mystery box, s/he will win a ticket to enter the annual gaming race.
An alternative to this priming process: Solvers of mystery boxes receive items essential for their involvement in the annual gaming race. The full collection of 12 of these items win them tickets to enter the annual gaming race.
2. Gaming tournaments are tournaments where one participates to play games with other players. In order to provide entertainment of the highest quality, Puzzles creates exclusive worlds in which each tournament occurs. Our full package covers all living, dining, and travelling expenses to keep the players worry-free and fully enjoy the experience. All measures have been taken to guarantee safety; the company also signs and commits to a nondisclosure agreement to safeguard all players' privacy.

SWOT Analysis

  • Ability to create original and difficult problems/riddles/puzzles
  • Its position as posers of intellectual challenges
What guarantees and maintains this quality of "intellectually challenging"?
  • Provision of an interactive/real gaming experience as opposed to video and console gaming platform
  • Excellent craftsmanship
  • Storytelling background; its suspense builds up round after round into the annual race
  • Novelty
How to remain new?


  • Incentive to play. Players have to dedicate effort during a big time frame and thus might disengage with the game after a while for various reasons.
  • It can be problematic having people spend a substantial amount of money on mystery challenges that they know they might not be able to solve.
The prize is the entrance to the gaming tournament and coverage of all expenses.
  • Private gaming will not increase publicity and reputation.
Exclusivity can also be categorized as a strength.


  • There is little competition at the moment. Closest resemblances are Lucky Bags - Fukubukuro and Bags of Crap
  • Potential customers are not price-sensitive.
  • Geographical location doesn't matter


  • Gaming mechanism is still easy to replicate
  • Direct competitors are other interactive gaming platforms
Future Initiatives: Part of our profit will go to research on virtual reality and the by-products that accompany it.
  • New competitors might appear after company launch
It takes at least a year after the launch to completely understand the gaming mechanism of the company. However, there still need to be more deterrents to replication. In other words, how to maintain the uniqueness of the mystery boxes and the tournament as a gaming mechanism?

3D Projector


This is a device that can be used in creative ways and for various purposes. For instance, it can serve as an educational tool to visualize abstract or scientific ideas in three-dimensional space, or function as an a useful add-on in future self-help robots to vividly project sceneries of choice within one's personal lodging. It would be interesting to see the level of detail in our most elaborate 3D analyses, and how closely to reality these projections can approximate. Once these projections are sophisticated enough to deceive the human eye, it could significantly alter our experience and comprehension of space.

Games and Gadgets Employing the Technology of Virtual Reality

Private/Worker-Owned Company
Type of Product: Leisure Goods

This idea originates along with the recent emergence of virtual reality technology, which promises a great prospect of realizing, even living out, our wildest imagination. The company focuses on producing useful gadgets and quality entertainment, which are low-risk yet still profitable. In a way, they are the disguised frontiers of technological novelty, where it is possible to push the limits of users' experience, and where new discoveries of other applications for augmented reality might be hidden. On the outset of implementing this, there are two primary branches that need investment and research. First, the technology of virtual reality itself needs to be refined and brought to its optimum capacity. Second, a separate technology of visual data analysis for virtual reality has to run parallel. Since further study and relevant experimentation is crucial, this business may necessarily start out as a non-profit organization based in a well-equipped research lab. Profits from products will be reinvested into the organization, with the aim of innovating and creating even more advanced equipment.

Rhino Homework

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