ARG’s, Innovation and Evocation

I’ve always been particularly intrigued by ARG’s (Alternative Reality Games), and having just watched Jane McGonigal’s TED talk on “Gaming can make a better world”, I checked out her new game “Evoke

For those who don’t know, she’s done I Love Bees, World Without Oil, and The Lost Ring to name just a few of her ARG’s.  This new one seems to be all about learning to innovate, motivate and solve problems.

I’m trying out Evoke and this post is part of my first mission.  It’s all about social innovation.  Learning to innovate and to engage in “social networking”.  Even though it’s a game, they have some great resources for budding entrepreneurs who might need some guidance on what kind of products to build or how to target your product correctly.

Their first link is to “Innovation in Africa tips”, which (despite the odd language structure in the title) has some great advice.  Like the following point from a post of Ethan Zuckerman entitled “Innovating from constraint”:

Don’t fight culture (If people cook by stirring their stews, they’re not going to use a solar oven, no matter what you do to market it. Make them a better stove instead.)

Just this one bit of advice would save developers thousands of hours of time that they otherwise would have wasted.  Just recently we’ve spent an age designing a report based on what we thought were the requirements from the client.  Only to find out it’s completely un-usable because all of our “great ideas” are just distracting from the key things that the client wanted.

Sometimes (strange as this might sound) the customer really is right.  And even if they’re wrong, a silly solution that gets used, is infinitely better than a perfect solution that nobody ever touches.  It’s great to be reminded of these truths that we forget, it’s unfortunately sad that we forgot them in the first place.