Slice 1Created with Sketch.
ContextDigital Pedagogy Lab 2018
AudienceAdult learners
PurposeEnhance engagement with & discovery of conference's complexity
PlatformsPlaying cards, quest book, Twitter account
white hand holding fanned-out collection of DigiDeks playing cards

Project Detail

For Digital Pedagogy Lab 2018 in Fredericksburg, Virginia, I designed an augmented-reality card game to encourage interaction and exploration from participants. Every attendee received a set of cards in their swag bag, and quests designed to enrich participant experiences earned additional cards and/or swag.

The Challenge

With so much going on, how can we encourage discovery and engagement without overwhelming or burning out participants?

Digital Pedagogy Lab 2018 included five days of class sessions, plus keynote addresses, breakout workshops, a photo booth, and virtual meetings via videoconference. Participants could easily feel overwhelmed, but they might just as easily not realize some of the activities existed. We needed a way to engage the participants, advertise what was possible, and avoid overwhelming people.

I created DigiDeks based on the Cs the Day ARG I had seen at the Conference on College Composition and Communication — an annual disciplinary cornerstone gathering thousands of academics and filling convention centers. I needed to adapt the concept to a group of around 200 people utilizing a single building on a university campus.

Instruction and quest list cards for DigiDeks 2018

The Product

64 Cards, 28 Quests, and a Twitter Account

I designed a deck of 64 playing cards, sorted into the following categories:

  • Authors — foundational writers behind the conference’s philosophies
  • Keywords — significant terms likely to be discussed in every course
  • Speakers — teachers and presenters throughout the week
  • Locations — buildings participants were likely to encounter, including local housing and coffee spots
  • Workshops — breakout sessions held during the week
  • Courses — class sessions offered at that year’s conference

Then I created 28 quests participants could complete, with seven in each of these categories:

  • Involvement — advertised lesser-known features of the conference
  • Interaction — encouraged timid participants to get to know others
  • Application — rewarded participants for demonstrating how their learning helped them
  • Card Play — provided low-anxiety gameplay for less-social participants

The quest book and instruction guide I created appeared in each participant’s swag bag, and I used the game’s Twitter account throughout the week to encourage participation and announce bonus quests.

The Result

Enthusiastic reception; too many cards

The game’s design and implementation got rave reviews, and many participants enthusiastically applied themselves to “winning” the conference through game play. As expected, some participants were unsure what to do with the cards or why such a game would exist, but the design of the game anticipated non-uniform engagement.

Cards had to be manufactured in bulk batches, so we ended up with more cards that we ideally wanted. By the end of the week, student assistants hid leftover cards throughout the building, providing a bit of an Easter-egg hunt. Building custodial wasn’t a fan. Oops!

On the so-silly-yet-so-proud side of things: After the announcement that we had time for only one further question of a keynote presenter, the emcee handed the mic to a participant who asked simply, “Will you sign this card?

Person wearing glasses and ear-to-ear grin holding DigiDeks playing card in hand