Sarah Le-Fevre Finding Balance in Ludogogy | Episode 154

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Sarah Le-Fevre is a Learning design and delivery professional and certified Lego® Serious Play® Facilitator.  After tiring of creating programs for blue-chip clients that focused almost solely on growth and profit, Sarah made the decision to keep the same audience but shift the focus to learning around sustainability, human flourishing and tackling systemic wicked problems.

With a focus on experiential learning, specifically games and learning in nature, Sarah specializes in creating programs which allow learners time to reflect and create their own learning about complex systemic issues and is in the process of writing a book about a Systems Practice approach to learning design for organizational change.

Sarah also runs a bi-monthly online magazine ‘Ludogogy’, which explores games-based learning, gamification, and gameful and playful design.  Sarah can be contacted at sarah [at] gamesforgood [dot] co [dot] uk (or search LinkedIn for Sarah Le-Fevre, with a hyphen) and you can visit the magazine at

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Full episode transcription

Rob (5s):
Welcome to Professor Game podcast, where we interview successful practitioners of games, gamification and game thinking who bring us the best of their experiences to get ideas, insights, and inspiration that help us in the process of getting the students to learn what we teach. And I’m Rob Alvarez. I teach and work at IE Business School in Madrid, where we create interactive and engaging learning materials. Want to know more? go to, start on our email list and ask me anything!

Rob (49s):
Welcome Engagers. Once again, we have the Professor Game podcast and a new episode, and today we are with Sarah, but Sarah, before we kick off, let’s begin with this. Are you prepared to engage?

Sarah (53s):

Rob (53s):
Let’s do this because Sarah Le-Fevre is that, is that right? Yes, that’s pretty good. Sarah, the fabric is a learning design and delivery professional and is also certified as a Lego serious play facilitator. And after tiring of creating programs for blue-chip clients that focused almost solely on growth and profit, she made the decision to keep the same audience, but shift the focus to learning around sustainability, human flourishing, and tackling systemic wicked problems. They focus on experiential learning specifically in games and learning in nature.

Rob (1m 27s):
She specializes in creating programs that allow learners to reflect and create their own learning about complex systemic issues. And is in the process of writing a book about a systems practice approach to learning design for organizational change. And she also runs a bimonthly online magazine called Ludodogy, that’s it. I knew I was going to get it right. I heard you when we in the pre-interview chat. And I said, that’s the way to say it, and I’m going to say it wrong. And I did.

Rob (1m 57s):
So I lived up to my expectations.

Sarah (1m 59s):
It’s a combination of a Ludo for play and gogy from the end of pedagogy or andragogy, whichever you prefer.

Rob (2m 7s):
Okay. So Ludogogy, which explores games based learning, gamification gameful and playful design. So very, very much a medium we are interested in and you can find her at sarah at or search for L I for Sarah, the favorite with a hyphen. And you can visit the magazine at Ludogogy dot co dot UK. Is there anything we’re missing Sarah from the intro?

Sarah (2m 32s):
No, I don’t think so. I think all good.

Rob (2m 35s):
We should get started. We are excited about this and we want to know, we want to know, first of all, Sarah, what does a day with Sarah look like? What are you doing nowadays? What’s what gets you excited? What gets you up in the morning?

Sarah (2m 47s):
Well, the first thing that gets put up in the morning, if I go swimming, I have to be quite disciplined to get work done because I’m very prone to being distracted by the latest, shiny thing that comes out. So swimming is really good for me because it gets me up running very early in the morning. I have to be in the pool by half six, but also it’s very good for clearing my head and making sure that when I do get back to work, when I get back, that I’m very focused. As you mentioned, I’m writing a book at the moment. So the first thing I try to do is get some writing done while I’m still fresh and for being in the call.

Sarah (3m 21s):
And most of my day at the moment, I’ll be honest. It’s taken up with the magazine with Ludogogy. So I spend a lot of my time talking to potential authors, writing posts, publicizing the current issue, sending out appeals for the next issue, themed issues, always sort of sending out an appeal for the next thing. And I’m also working on a major revamp at the moment. So it’s moving on from being just a magazine to what I hope will be a really valuable resource community resource or a game-based learning and gamification professionals that takes a bit of my day.

Sarah (4m 1s):
One of the good things I’ve found about lockdown is that I’ve taken to working in the garden in the afternoon. So I usually head out after lunch. I can’t get the internet in the garden. I could, if I took a big cable with me, but generally speaking, it’s quite nice to get away from it after a tough morning zooming. So I usually go with the current in some games projects or do a bit of reading. I don’t know about you, but I think my pile of books to read has also grown.

Sarah (4m 36s):
I think lockdown has made that happen because everybody’s got so much more time because they’re not commuting. Everybody’s got so much more time for networking and discussing the ideas they found with each other that I’m just being recommended, books left, right. And center this huge pile of books to read.

Rob (4m 52s):
Are you getting more reading now or is it, or is it the same?

Sarah (4m 57s):
I think I tend to read in the evenings, I read or play games in the evenings, which is quite nice. Yeah. So that’s, that’s, that’s kind of point day, and then I kind of fall into bed at midnight and then start again at six o’clock.

Rob (5m 12s):
That makes a lot of sense. You were talking about books. What can I say? I have quite a few episodes getting recommended books that are of my main area of interest so that every single week I have one or two new books that I like to read. And I used, I was getting back into my habit of reading more often. I was using, some extra time I had in the morning. I’ve been doing some stuff for my physiotherapy and I ended up with some ice. So when I was getting myself iced, I was reading as well.

Rob (5m 44s):
So that was a very, very good time to spend in at least 15 minutes every day. But the icing is gone. And so has been the reading for a few days. I’m trying to figure out how I can get it back in,

Sarah (5m 57s):
It’s probably not worth injuring yourself again.

Rob (5m 59s):
Oh, I’m sure it’s not, I’m sure it’s not I’m way too busy to have those minutes sort of locked in any capacity. So yes, the books have been increasing for sure every single week, not just in lockdown, but you know, I had managed to get into a habit for reading them in the morning. We’ll see what that looks like in the future. Seems you have many exciting things going on and we’d like to make a shift. We always like to start with sort of strong in that sense. We’d like to start with stories of, of a time that, you know, things didn’t go well, you were, you were using these strategies, these game-based strategies, these Lego Serious Play this gamification, all these things that we’ve been talking about up to this point.

Rob (6m 38s):
And you know, it was the first attempt in learning, just not to call it fail or a failure. So we want to be there with you. We want to be in that story. We want to learn from it. We want to know how you got out of it or what did you learn?

Sarah (6m 50s):
So I think there’s been, there’s been quite a few of those failures and hard-earned lessons. And quite them probably income with a lot of when I was starting out. And I think probably the hardest one lesson that I shouldn’t and couldn’t share my current favorite game mechanism into whatever I’m designing, just because I would have really wanted to use it. I’ve been a, a massive board game geek ever since I was a child when I had a ludicrous selection of board games.

Sarah (7m 21s):
So I’ve gotten lots of references and then lots of inspiration and it’s very, very tempting. I find to cushion all the funky mechanisms you can. So I remember one particularly excruciating and embarrassing situation. Fortunately, it was only, it was a playtest not yet for real out there in the real world with real learners, but it was a leadership learning program and it was for quite a prestigious client. And I’d created what I thought was this really, really clever and wonderful market-based mechanism for measuring and rewarding, different leadership behaviors based on decisions that people have made.

Sarah (7m 58s):
As I said, it’s market-based. So they had to bid for them as I’m explaining it. Now, it sounds ridiculous. And so when it came to the poet where they, at the end of the round, they’ve made their decisions and they had to reflect on their performance, which was hand out numerically to them. None of them were really interested in reflecting. So I was desperately trying to facilitate it in my best facilitating style and all that really wants to know it was why they’ve got this number, why this team won and that table lost and what the numbers meant.

Sarah (8m 30s):
And could I explain myself, so it really distracted from what I was trying to do. So I ended up having to explain my design for about 20 minutes and sort of justifying myself. And as it was coming out of my mouth, it just sounded the most ridiculous thing that anybody had ever invented. It was stupidly complicated. And I just thought, well, you know, people, people just make decisions. They don’t have to competitively bid to make them, you know, I mean, they might have to pay for resources that they need in order to make those decisions, but they don’t have to competitively bid to actually make the decisions.

Sarah (9m 3s):
So this taught me quite early on that when I think I’ve got the perfect design that I should really take a second and third look and probably strip out at least half of the working parts because less is nearly, always more. And what’s really depressing about it is that I generally found even now that the cleverer, I think the thing is to start off with the more, or the less likely it is to work in practice. So the things I get really excited about are generally not the things that ended up in the finished game and actually, that’s something which I’m thinking about.

Sarah (9m 34s):
I was thinking about this earlier. It’s quite ironic because this game I was just talking about, came from a time when I was working with what I see now is quite simple learning outcomes for my learners, but creating quite complex games in order to facilitate that. So this for example was it was a leadership program, but the bit we were doing was around getting people to understand, to create and understand financial records. So we created this kind of business simulation, which has lots of moving parts and was about them running their own business.

Sarah (10m 9s):
But the learning outcomes were really simple. It was, you know, here’s a profit and loss. Here’s the balance sheet. This is what these numbers mean. This is what those numbers mean. I’m looking back now that was a ridiculously complex and stupid amount of work that went into creating a game for a very simple outcome. And yet what I’m doing now is I’m quite often working with really, really complex outcomes, for example, helping a community or an organization to really explore and get into how it’s going to be resilient in the face of potential future challenges, which is a complex set of outcomes.

Sarah (10m 46s):
And yet the game that I create to do that might just be a simple set of stimulus cards, which is helping to draw out those stories and helping people do world-building. So it’s almost like the games have got simpler as outcomes have got more complex.

Rob (11m 1s):
Absolutely. That makes sense. That’s a beautiful way to see it. I think, as you said like you put a beautifully less is more and the more we simplify I think is, is always very good. I remember a friend An Coppens, you probably have heard of her as well saying that when you’re designing these things, of course, she’s more into sort of professional and working with companies rather than necessarily with the learners. So she says like every time you’re, you’re thinking of building in some other mechanics, some other things think that each of these features costs, let’s say $10,000 euros, British pounds, whatever that looks like every single time you add one of those it’s 10,000 pounds extra in the end, it might be something like that anyway, but it helps you sort of keep yourself guarded off of creating too much, which I think is one of the big lessons of that story as well.

Sarah (11m 54s):
Yeah, absolutely. Ultimately though, I think my biggest failure, I would say would be that it’s taken me such a long time to kind of reach a balance of the combination of purpose and design practice that I’m happy with. Because as I say, I spent quite a lot of time working, creating games were, which I think you’ve alluded to in my introduction, where I was working with companies and it was really all about helping these companies to make more money, not anything against that. But for me, that didn’t really get me out of bed in the morning.

Sarah (12m 26s):
It wasn’t something that really excited me. And then even when I then moved into working with organizations that were more purpose-driven, the problem I had, then it was around my practice because there will be quite deep misunderstandings about what game-based learning is, what it’s good for, what it’s not good for, how serious games can be, because it was quite a lot of feeling that, you know, games can’t really be used to tackle serious issues because they’re really for children, even under misunderstandings about how long it takes or what skill set is needed in order to actually implement games for learning.

Sarah (13m 6s):
Well, I can tell you a really one of my favorites, I use the word favorite quite sarcastically from this time in my life was that being asked to create a game through a corporate reception, which would be engaging, but wouldn’t distract people from drinking and networking, which was quite an interesting request. So I eventually ended up doing some things that sort of enhanced networking, but I was really met with a lot of blank looks when I tried to explain that the word distracting or not distracting and engaging are actually mutually exclusive.

Sarah (13m 39s):
And it’s really anyone of those you should be going for when you’re designing a game.

Rob (13m 46s):
Well maybe, maybe, maybe you try to not distract them or try to focus them on what they should be focusing on and that depending on how you see it, it is a distraction or it is actually, focus

Sarah (13m 57s):

Rob (13m 59s):
It’s hard to, to get that through however, I can completely relate to that. And of course, it’s, it’s, it’s really hard and it’s one of the struggles that I think we all face at some point in a, in a certain capacity, how to get people to understand that games can be these awesome things that are not just fun or, or sometimes fun, but also sometimes serious and or fun. They can be many things in the middle. So I think it’s, it’s a, it’s a struggle.

Sarah (14m 27s):
Isn’t necessarily a synonym for frivolous. I’m a great believer in the fact that we should all be having fun all the time because you know, fun is the best way to learn. And, you know, learning is also the best fun that you can have.

Rob (14m 40s):
Absolutely. Absolutely. And we could get into the discussion of how we stripped education and learning the fun, but maybe that’s not for today. Maybe it’s for later on. I think we could spend a full episode just talking about that because we would like to know as well because we’ve talked about these, these failures that you’ve had. And that’s very exciting because we get to know you a bit more. We get some people to get to understand you’ve not always been, not only you, all of us were not always been or if we are at all fabulous and you know, all showing all these great things, we’ve also had failures, that’s human.

Rob (15m 12s):
That’s where we learn. That’s where we can do. Also, we build from there to actually become fabulous, right? And I’d like to talk about a fabulous occasion now, right? Of, of a time you set out to do something you had this project you were very excited about and you know, the first or the second or the nth end time you attempt to do you have at it, you had at it, and it was a success. And we want to be there with you. We want to know there’s any sort of factors of success that you had there. We want to see that story. You hear that story.

Sarah (15m 38s):
I’m going to be a bit conservative because I’m actually going to pull out the story, which is from this time when I was working in the mindset of helping culprits to make money period, having said that the impulse of the project that I got very, very excited about, and it was the start of my lifelong love affair with Excel spreadsheets and VBA, which I still have today. I think, I think the thing about this project, which was so fun is that it was really just like a huge puzzle and all of the things I’m probably going to talk a little bit about later is the fact that I find very stimulating working with constraints.

Sarah (16m 14s):
I think constraints and being told that you haven’t got a lot of money, or you are, you have to stick to this particular piece of software, or you can only run your game between this hour and this hour in a day, or whatever are actually things that can really stretch your creativity and teach you a lot. So this particular thing I was called upon to create it was a simulation really rather than a game, I would say, although it was played as a game, but it was basically the promotional process of a large food manufacturer.

Sarah (16m 49s):
So if you’ve ever been to a supermarket, you probably been faced with buy one, get one free offer or two for one offers and so on and so forth. So the way that these work is that food wholesalers and food manufacturers bid for these opportunities, well, they’d bid for product placement within the supermarket. So it costs them the most money to get the eye-level shelf with their product on it. It costs them money. They have to give money to the supermarket in order to have their products at the gondola end, the ends of the Isles or by the turtles and so on.

Sarah (17m 21s):
And then they also give money in order for the supermarkets to run these promotions if I won’t get on free things and so on and so forth. So there were about 12 of these different instruments that I had to model within a spreadsheet, plus all sorts of other bits and pieces like the price elasticity that happens as a result of that come the modeling in Excel and said, okay, right. I’ve got a prototype.

Sarah (17m 52s):
We’ve got to do it in a nice, nice programming environment. Now that’s got some nice graphics and we can program in some non-player characters and so on and so forth because of the other bits that you’ve asked for, which is that the output will be a graphical representation of what the supermarket looks like after the six teams have competitively bid put in there, make their decisions about what, how much money they’re going to spend with, Oh, no, no, no. You’ve got to do it all in Excel. It’s the only thing we can use. So I had to build this thing that really, really should have been built in an, as I say, a nice graphics-based programming environment with non-player characters, lovely graphical outputs that would show me the plan at the supermarket with all the product placement and so on.

Sarah (18m 35s):
I had to build it in Excel and I did. Then it was a massive puzzle. And it took me quite a while. But the things that I learned about things being helpful, you can push software. And as I said, the creativity that can come about when you’re faced with what seems to be an overwhelming constraint, I think is something that was a valuable lesson to me. And I’m still very proud of it. It makes me feel like I am to Excel what Eric Clapton looks to a guitar every time I look at it.

Rob (19m 13s):
Well, we can, we can tell that you were excited about Excel.

Sarah (19m 16s):
Right. Very much so. It is a wonderful prototyping tool. I don’t think it’s been vetted for that.

Rob (19m 24s):
Yeah. I mean the, the interesting thing about Excel I would argue is that I don’t know of many people who can actually, you know, no, it’s all in Excel. So I mean, you can get to be incredibly amazing at so many things still, you would be at a certain percentage of all the insane things that Excel is able of doing. I think at this point, not even the ones who created it really know every single function.

Sarah (19m 50s):
Yeah. I mean, who would have imagined that you could build no graphical representation of product placement in a supermarket using itself? I wouldn’t, when I started that project,

Rob (19m 60s):
It’s crazy. It’s crazy. So that is fantastic, Sarah, and it, and it’s an example of, you know, those restrictions you were talking about, it’s an example of you don’t need necessarily all these tools and these 3d graphic environments, typical graphic environments. There are things that can be done with it can become super complex and do super complex things, simpler things that, to simpler, simple things, simple things that do complex things. There’s, there are all these combinations in between. And it depends on what you’re looking for.

Rob (20m 30s):
And what are your restrictions? And Sarah, you’ve been talking about how you face these projects, but do you have any sort of process? Is there a way you approach when they tell you, Oh, let’s make a game out of this, let’s create this experience. How do you do it? What comes to your mind? What are the steps, if you have any?

Sarah (20m 47s):
So I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit and then I wrote a few notes down and I actually looked, it does not look a process at all. It looks like a big mesh mash, but I guess that is kind of my process. I do occasionally create just the fun games, but most of the time when I’m working, when I’m doing my professional, but I’m creating games to support learning until recently I would have started that process with the standard OOO objectives, outcomes, outputs process, to decide what the learning should look like before I even look at the games, but I’ve become quite disillusioned with that process or that approach, particularly I think again, as I’ve moved into more complex and it’s more about organizational change or community change than necessarily individual learning within the organization, which is where I was before when I was doing leadership programs or financial recommend programs.

Sarah (21m 53s):
And I think it’s reasonable to make the assumption that individual learning outcomes will necessarily aggregate into some kind of organizational change. So I’ve had to, I had to kind of adjust my approach and this actually, it’s not, it’s not too much, but this is, this is basically what the book I’m writing is about. And it outlines a more systems-based design approach, which is a bit more like the transitional design. Have you come across the terms, transitional design?

Rob (22m 25s):
No, I haven’t.

Sarah (22m 25s):
So transitional design. This is quite often, it’s something that’s looked at in terms of a sustainability learning or not learning, but sustainability and resilience around things like climate change. So you might come across things like the idea of transition towns. And so on. The idea is that we live in, we live in very transitional times. Climate change is the big one. That’s rumbling on the background, of course, but I think this year it’s becoming more obvious that we live in these transitional times, obviously, COVID-19 was, was something that made a big change in people’s lives.

Sarah (23m 4s):
And then, well, during the time that’s going on, there’s been an upsurge and the interest in black lives and so on and so forth. So there’s all these, these big changes in society, all these pushes for change that aren’t actually aren’t necessarily happening. And the idea behind transition design is us, designers. This goes for any designers, they might be architects. There might be town planners, but I would argue it applies to learning designers too. They really have a responsibility to be thinking in terms of how they can age those transitions, which are going to happen.

Sarah (23m 37s):
We’re going to have to transition through an example to a situation where we are more resilient to repeated pandemics. So that’s, that’s basically the book too much more, but just to say that to get to that completed learning design aspect, there is an awful lot of games and play involved in that. So I would use games and play to do that analysis and do that work with the stakeholders before I even start thinking about the games. So it’s all very meta.

Sarah (24m 8s):
There are games that I play with stakeholders to decide what the games we should play for them to do the learning. So if we kind of get to that stage, well, let’s say we’ve got to the stage of kind of workable model of the change we want to bring up. I can then stop to look at what games it’s been. I understand. And as I mentioned earlier, probably I would say the start of my process is always with constraints. Although it might seem a little bit depressing to start with things that you can’t do, because most people like to start with things that they can cause that gets them a bit more to create, give you a problem to solve.

Sarah (24m 52s):
And if you don’t have a problem to solve, if you give him to a lot of people would seem to be a dream project. Yes, you’ve got as much budget and, and basically, you know, it’s up to you. You can decide what, how it works. I think that doesn’t give you a lot to anchor your thinking on, so knowing you only got a certain amount of money. The game must run in two hours or you have to do it in Excel because that’s the only thing they’ve got to run. It actually, it gives you a problem.

Sarah (25m 22s):
And when you have a problem, you can actually start working to solve it. So as I say, well, this stage I would have been playing games with the stakeholders, find out what they want to achieve from the learning to analyze the ideas sometimes. And this is what I said, this is where it starts. It’s not so much a process as some kind of mishmash, but sometimes I’ll end up using games that maybe I worked on all the different projects to actually play through, to see how they come out or to see how people, people react to them.

Sarah (26m 6s):
So everything I’ve learned up to that stage was convincing for a brainstorming apprenticeship and stage. And we’ll start to suggest that then someone with the complaints, potential mechanisms, some other bits of gameplay. And again, at that stage, I’m very much into the idea of playing games, who design games. So at that stage, I will be taking playing games on ideas. I love Jesse Schell’s lenses I use those incessantly, which is great.

Sarah (26m 43s):
It allows me to play games with them. So that’s an example of games design quite recently, that sustainable cities I’ve been working with the stakeholders to come up with some ideas about kinds of learnings. We wanted to come out of it, and we came with a game called Flip City, but it’s about building a city, we build it with Jesse Schell’s lens and we just made it the game, with those playing pieces, put them around the table, what does this suggest to you?

Sarah (27m 18s):
We just played around for, I do a lot of that, but generally speaking, what happens is a kind of weird co-creation process with stakeholders where workable ideas turn into prototypes, turn into playtests and we get something useful at the end of it. One of the other things that I find is that when I’m designing, even outside of that process. So when I go home in the evening, I find it’s almost because I’m designing, I’m playing games in my spare time as well.

Sarah (27m 56s):
Very often the key lessons will come out of that. So it’s almost like if you open yourself up to lots of stimuli when you’re working on a project, it’s almost like your subconscious its working in the background. So there was an incident I was working on a simulation, for a charity.

Sarah (28m 26s):
I was playing lots of games in the evening and just wanting to know like, Oh, literally I haven’t played it, but it just to kind of, okay. And then partway through the session, I suddenly realized that the map and hidden position mechanic is actually ideal for that for this disaster readiness simulation, if you take away enough stimulus, the ideas will occur.

Rob (28m 57s):
There you go. There you go. There are so many things it’s so packed. Sarah, thank you very much for all those insights. Just a quick break before we continue, are you enjoying this podcast? If you’re listening through a podcasting app, please subscribe and rate us on the app. This will be of great help to reach more engagers so we can change the world together through gamification. Talking about insights and things that you would recommend. Is there hearing these questions, listening to the interactions that we’ve had here?

Rob (29m 29s):
Is there somebody that you would like to listen to in an episode like this one in Professor Game, some person that you have in your mind?

Sarah (29m 35s):
Absolutely. So the game that I find most in the field that I work in, which is, as I say, talking about these big systemic problems, it’s not a recent game, World Without Oil. Have you heard of it?

Rob (29m 55s):

Sarah (29m 56s):
It was in the alternate reality game that was created 12 years ago now by Ken Eklund and Jane McGonigal, the premise behind it was that we had reached peak oil. We’d reached a situation where the demand for oil outstrips supply and this is running. I think it was 30, 32 days, which was supposed to simulate two weeks. And every day, the game makers would feed some stimulus into the game, through websites, through TV programs.

Sarah (30m 30s):
That was quite a broad infrastructure that was put in place and people were invited to play and the way they were approached to play, it was not role-playing but real play. So they would read the stimulus and answering to the magic circle if you like of accepting that this was reality. So they would respond to this reality in whatever way they liked. They were writing blogs, they were phoning up a helpline. They were writing comic strips, just really to respond as themselves as to what their life would be like in this situation.

Sarah (31m 5s):
Let’s say this one told them for 32 days, 32 weeks of this oil shortage, basically. And to start with the way that people are playing is they were writing quite gloomy responses about how difficult their lives were being, how they couldn’t take the kids to school, how they couldn’t run their farms, et cetera, et cetera. But over a while, people started to self-organize, into groups and start coming up with solutions. So what actually came into this game, it was quite a long term game. And the game that people played is a resource, which is still available in which people can still use it as a learning resource.

Sarah (31m 41s):
It’s used quite widely in schools, in the U S a, which really looks at how people, how, how communities would deal with this crisis if it actually happened. So it’s sort of the idea behind the game like that is that people can play it before it happens, play it before you have to have to live it on. It helps to make people ready. And as I say, the two, the two creators, when I left to say, I agree with those two.

Rob (32m 11s):
Wow. So that is all about Jane McGonigal. And that will be your favorite game as well, right?

Sarah (32m 16s):
Yes. That would be my favorite game. Yeah.

Rob (32m 19s):
And the person you’re proposing would be Jane McGonigal.

Sarah (32m 23s):
Or Ken Eklund

Rob (32m 23s):
I think I’ve said that many times before. I know she’s been mentioned before many, many people are looking forward to having her on the show. Let’s see if we can have her soon enough or a special episode or what have you. I hope she will be very, very soon. And in that same sense of recommendation, you’ve talked about the person you’ve talked about the game. Can you tell us if there’s any book we’ve been talking about books from the start that you would like to have?

Sarah (32m 49s):
Yeah. I’m down here for the toolbox actually and it’s probably cheating a little bit. So it’s a book that absolutely blew me away. Quite recently, it’s called Ideas Arrangements Effects and it’s not actually the premise of this book but it’s a design book.

Sarah (33m 23s):
And the premise of this book is that ideas are held or embedded in arrangements and those arrangements have effects. And so one of the examples they give in the book, which is very, very simple is they, they talk about the lots of ideas around what learning is or what education is or how children should behave or what attention looks like. It’s quite often held in the arrangement of chairs in the classroom. So if you arrange chairs in a classroom, all facing front in rows that embedded in that are a lot of ideas about who holds the power in the classroom, who holds the knowledge and how that should be transferred, from teacher to student.

Sarah (33m 58s):
And there are other examples in there as well. And one of the things they talk about is the way that large problems are often tackled or often thought about in terms of, rather than ideas, arrangements effects, ideas, people, and effects. So when you’re talking about a big idea, such as racism, and you’re looking at what ha what’s happening in the States, for example, with police shooting black men, quite often the blame falls on the police. So they say there is this idea of racism.

Sarah (34m 28s):
And this, this idea is this fails by these policemen, because look, they’re shooting these black guys. Whereas if you were looking at it from this IAE point of view, it doesn’t necessarily take the responsibility away from individuals, but it also looks at, it looks deeper at the hidden things that we might not think about. What are the arrangements in society that make this, this, these ideas persist? Another example is we think about things like an effect like disparity of pay between men and women in the workplace.

Sarah (35m 1s):
And we think we look at that and we say, well, this company is, is being sexist because it doesn’t pay its women as much as it’s men, but we don’t necessarily look at the subtle arrangements of that are invisible. As the working day, for example, is, is an arrangement that we accept so much that it’s almost invisible and unexamined and yet the working day makes it difficult for women to retain value in the workplace because it’s at the same time that they need to be looking after their kids or ideas like what motherhood is or arrangements around that are holding women back as well, so it’s not as simple as just saying, well, this company is bad because it’s doing this.

Sarah (35m 43s):
There are all these invisible arrangements around us. So that is a really, really interesting book that I’ve read and I’ve forgotten what the other book, which has also had some really amazing stuff in it. And that’s called design, Design Unbound. And that’s a general design book as well. It’s actually written by two architects, but there’s so much stuff in there that can be applied to, to games design, particularly the chapter world-building, which just blew me away.

Rob (36m 15s):
Well, those are some fantastic, phenomenal books. Thank you very much. We have a final, quick question for you is what do you think is your superpower?

Sarah (36m 24s):
My superpower, my superpower is something that I only discovered relatively recently and it’s the same superpower that I apply to everything, but to give it a name, I recently discovered that I have attention deficit disorder up until I discovered that it was almost entirely negative. It meant the time picked up and dropped interests very quickly.

Sarah (36m 54s):
Sometimes within days or weeks, it meant that I had quite a big intolerance for certain sensory and emotional stimulus, but it also meant that I could hyperfocus on things, but that wasn’t necessarily a good thing at all times, because it sometimes meant that I would forget to do other things that I should be doing. And, I had a hard time with it but it was mostly around other people’s reactions to the way I was that led to me to be quite negative about it.

Sarah (37m 24s):
But when I discovered what it was and it wasn’t me just being flaky, I discovered all the superpowers that go with it. The biggest one is, certainly from serving myself and having conversations with other people who have ADD, that’s been quite eclectic, being able to pick up a new interest and being obsessed with it for a week, and then you just never touch it again. But what that does is it does expose you to an awful lot of different stimuli, which means I think that I make connections where the people don’t see them.

Sarah (37m 59s):
And that can be very, very useful when creating games because it’s, it’s a real aid to creativity, hyperfocus, lets me to get stuff done in a hurry. And also another thing I’ve got no evidence of this. I may be entirely making it up. But another thing that I’ve noticed around with myself and potentially talking to other people with ADD is a tendency to think of things as very connected systems, it may just be a symptom of the people I’ve spoken to, maybe I’m quite selective, but I think it has helped to lead me towards this very connected way of seeing things and the practice that I’m now sort of engaged in.

Rob (38m 45s):
Fantastic. Fantastic. So thank you very much for that. I think we’ve had, an episode packed with a lot of great information and great things to keep thinking about for sure. And you know, before we go, can you let us know Sarah, where we can find you? I know we mentioned your, your email, the Ludogogy, the magazine. Is there anything else that you want to mention? Where can we find you? Where can we chat with you? If that’s the case?

Sarah (39m 11s):
LinkedIn is probably the best place. It’s where I spend a lot of my time. So if you just search me on LinkedIn then with, with strange explainers, which are, they put the name and that way they send it off.

Rob (39m 38s):
Well, so there, there you go. There, we can find, you will you can find that definitely in the show notes. So you go to, you put the search bar, you click Sarah, you’re on the search. You put Sarah with an H at the end, and you will definitely find that this episode, all the links that we’ve mentioned to all the things that Sarah has been talking about, we will hopefully have them all there. So thank you, Sarah. Thank you very much for all this, this experience that you’ve shared, all of these ideas that you’ve had, however, at least for now and for today, it is time to say that its Game Over!

Rob (40m 10s):
Engagers. It is fantastic to have you here. And I hope you enjoyed this interview with Sarah. And I would like to know, like to make you a small, very quick question. How are you listening to this podcast? Are you doing it through any sort of podcasting app on your phone or on any other device? If you are listening through one of these apps, have you subscribed, rated and reviewed this podcast? That is, you know, subscribing when you click on subscribe to get all the updates rate is when you say it’s five stars, it’s all good, very good.

Rob (40m 44s):
And then the review is that comment that you leave after saying that you do enjoy this podcast. If you haven’t, please, please go ahead and do so! That way you can help us achieve the mission of making, learning, and life and business amazing using games and gamification. If you want the instructions, all you have to do the basic ones at least is go to And before you go on to your next mission, please remember to subscribe using your favorite podcast app.

Rob (41m 19s):
So you can listen to the next episode of Professor Game. See you there!

End of transcription

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