Helping you create a Minimum Viable Design

Welcome to the official site for the Gamification Design Sprint methodology, playbook and design tools. These materials have been based on years of research and testing with the one objective in mind: to help organisations create thriving businesses and communities. 

About our Gamification Design Sprint

A Gamification Design Sprint is a condensed strategic design session that aims to generate fast prototypes of innovations in your product, service or process. It is based on an agile approach to developing fast prototypes of new or refined products, services or processes. It is a seven-phase process that helps your team deep-dive into discovery, re-creating, prototyping, validating until you get your Minimum Viable Design.

Matrix 2 the Process_1 copy

We run multiple sprints to ensure rigour and validity. Our Gamification Design Sprints start with an intense 1-day session to get your early prototypes up and running as fast as possible. This session is followed up with subsequent scheduled sprints to allow the team time to run validation research and testing. We also offer a ‘pick your own adventure’ sprint where we can start anywhere to help your team out of a rut.

design sprint multiple

Based on the Google Design Sprint that was developed in 2010, our Gamification Design Sprint is unique in the following ways:

Engaging, Playful Process

Our process is based on creative problem solving by developing engaged and playful teams. We use playful tools and experiences as part of the  process of breaking out of entrained thinking so we can think more creatively.

Emphasis on Visualisation and Embodiment

We build physical models of the problem and proposed solutions that bring early prototypes of business solutions to life. We work to get your teams ‘out of their heads’ and start building models to depersonalise the issues and express the issues on a deeper and more creative level.

Incorporate Gameful Design Elements

We incorporate gameful design elements during the process that takes workshop participants on a journey of discovery of new skills and approaches to human-centred design. Our approach based on the latest research in cognitive science, behavioural economics and human-computer interaction on how to better engage with your stakeholders in a product, process or service that you are looking to redesign.

Deep-Dive into Empathy

Rather than use mechanical ‘persona’ development, we start with archetypes to stat at the beginning of building empathy and insight and avoid stereotyping our target audience. Furthermore, we work with your design and strategy team to identify any potential design bias that might get in the way of effective product, service and process design.

Systems Approach

Meaningful and sustainable innovation can only be developed once we have mapped the systemic constraints that your organisation is facing. Our business performance is guided, enables and constrained by the systems we operate in, that’s why we take this strategic approach before we launch a design sprint.

Furthermore, our approach has been designed for all types of organisation (not just startups) and business problems and challenges (not just technology).


Our Tools


The full product suite we use during our Gamification Design Sprint sessions includes the following tools:

  • Playbook – Facilitators Guide
  • Playbook – Templates
  • Tiny Game design cards
  • Empathy design cards
  • Core Strengths and Blockers (Superpower/Anti-superpower) design cards

You are more than welcome to purchase these tools to run your own Gamification Design Sprints, head on down to our contacts section. And if you need some help in facilitating your design strategy workshops, we are always on hand to help you, just email us directly here.

Our Founder

Marigo Raftopoulos developed the Gamification Design Sprint as a way of condensing her doctoral research and ten years of innovation strategy work into a practical strategic design methodology and tools sets. Her professional profile can be found here, and her published research can be found here.

Explore our Site

Please explore our site to learn more about our design and implementation process and let us know if there is anything we can do for you.

The Process

What is a Gamification Design Sprint

A Gamification Design Sprint is a high-energy, interactive design approach used for business problem solving and creating innovative product or service solutions. At the core of a Gamification Design Sprint is using an agile approach to developing a Minimum Viable Design, that incorporates systems thinking, game design and creative problem solving. Most importantly, the process is a playful and interactive ‘learning by doing’ experience.

Most design disciplines maintain that their goal is to solve ‘wicked problems’ and most have a four-phase design process to achieve this. The model that I developed and published outlines a set of key activities over four phases of problem and empathy discovery, reframing through creative problem solving, envisioning with game thinking elements and creating prototypes.

The real magic however is not in the model, but the process which engages workshop participants in ‘opening possibility spaces’ and getting out of ‘entrained thinking’.

Matrix 2 the Process_1 copy

Sprints are engaging, experiential and experimental

My philosophy is this: your staff, your customers and your stakeholders are the experts, and solutions are contained within the problems. Create a space for them to freely and without prejudice collaborate and be creative. My technical expertise is there as a backup for them, and all I need to do is coach them through the process. The process is also playful, so we engage in different activities from theatre improv, game-storming and body-storming to limber up our creativity and free-thinking. This helps to build trust, respect and co-operation in the sprint team. Some of the constructs underpinning the process are:

  • Visual thinking and model building to map out complex problems systems models
  • Applying game design principles to reimagine business systems and processes
  • Using play to stimulate creativity and imagination to rethink systems constraints
  • Using psychological archetypes to build empathy and identify design bias

Who has played with Gamification Design Sprints?

I’ve been working with creative or innovative organisations looking to learn new skills and approaches to problem solving. Most have pressing challenges to resolve – and these range from:

  • Developing a new business model, product, service or process – or refining an existing one
  • Human resource issues such as improving staff motivation and morale or reviewing performance management systems
  • Learning and development challenges looking to improve the engagement and learnings from their courseware
  • Leadership teams looking to understand more about engagement, collaboration and co-design as part of wider digital transformation initiatives.
  • These sprints are used effectively with all types of organisations ranging from start-ups to established private and public sector organisations.

The common denominators in all the sprints that I’ve run is consistent: curiosity, a willingness to experiment, openness to new ideas, a burning concern that change is needed in their organisations, and a belief that they need to engage their stakeholders in new and meaningful ways.


Where to from here

Gamification as a design discipline has been steadily growing in sophistication as more PhD researchers and industry practitioners are publishing their work and refining design processes and technologies. My own research and practice is ongoing as I further develop and refine the design sprints into domain specific practices such as innovation, digital transformation, human resources and learning and development.

Gamification Design Sprint Tools

We have developed several tools that help facilitate creativity and business innovation during our design sprints. All our tools have been rigorously researched and tested to ensure that they deliver practical business results.

Tiny Game Ideation


There is nothing worse than facing a blank page or post-it note in a forced ideation session. We have created a set of cards that help the ideation process along by starting you off with a succession of quick ideation sessions giving you a few core variables. This helps teams focus on creating small projects – from which the large quickly grow!

Stakeholder Empathy & Design Bias


We use our human archetypes cards and workbooks to start the process of identifying a profile of your target audience, or how we call it in our sprints – focusing on the ‘hero’ in the problem we are trying to solve. Human motivations, goals, values, personality and drivers are universal, and are commonly used in narrative, storytelling, communication and culture formation.

There are many significant models and insights, however none have (thankfully) ‘cracked the human code’. There is a commonality in human values, desires and emotions, and the pervasiveness of culture to shape our behaviour and we have built these into our ‘hero discovery’ process.

human values culture desires etc

There are 12+ key archetypes that have appeared in stories and myths around the world
Based on the works of Jung, Campbell, Vogler, Mark & Pearson and others. We use these as a skeleton to start building hero personas and product stories. We always follow up with objective research and validation to build evidence-based profiles and personas between sprints. An important part of our process is working on identifying the ‘design bias’ inside our organisation that sometimes gets in the way of true

Core Strengths and Blockers

anti plus super cards

This is a great human-factors approach we use to get to the root cause of a problem and build teamwork and empathy. We work with the exisiting core strengths in your team and with your stakeholders (we like to call them ‘superpowers’) so we can build or ‘amplify’ what is already working well. We then identify the blockers (or the anti-superpowers) to remove these obstacles. The great thing about using our design cards is that it ‘depersonalises’ the issues and challenges.

Design Taxonomy

taxonomy summary

Taxonomies are an important resource in organising information on a topic so the content can be used strategically and consistently in an organisation. I created an Enterprise Gamification Taxonomy several years ago as part of my doctoral research based on an audit and analysis of over 300 enterprise gamification projects. This taxonomy provides a valuable resource that we use in the sprint design process.

The key value of a taxonomy for a field as new as gamification is that it codifies best-practice and provides a common language for when you’re developing your own strategy. It also provides practical insights into the characteristics of these applications for business purposes. At the highest level, the enterprise gamification taxonomy comprises of six dimensions. This taxonomy provides a framework to guide your design decisions with a set of six key questions to work though.

Capability Framework

capability model plus enablers

Our expertise doesn’t leave you with a pile of post-it notes, butchers paper and a bundle of lovely team building experiences, and wondering “well, where do I do from here?” Our strength in in business strategy and implementation and we have a well researched capability model that will help you develop the means to develop a business case, implementation plan to bring your project to life. Our Capability Checklist and Capability Audit provides a framework to manage the post-sprint implementation process.

Forever Creating

We are constantly developing new tools and techniques, its in our DNA. Watch this space!


Sprint Experience

Strategy Direction & Systems Map

Gamification for complexity matrix

The process starts with understanding your business challenge and the environment in which your business operates (or is looking to expand into). We take a systems view of business challenges. This means we target the cause of the problem, not the symptoms so you can develop a sustainable and effective solution.

Engaging Your Team

Gamification design sprint team work

On-boarding your team is critical to the process. We do a lot of work with engaging and consulting with your staff, customers or stakeholders before a sprint takes place. This phase is critical for us to develop an objective baseline of the issues surrounding the problem you are trying to solve. Just so you know – we have been known to not recommend a Gamification Design Sprint after this phase if we believe that it is a different solution that you need.

Designing Your Sprint Experience


Once we have completed our environment scan and stakeholder consultations, we’re good to go. The process is well designed with a wide range of different activities so it can generate a high level of engagement, participation and teamwork in the strategic design process.

Developing Practical Solutions



The activities are designed to develop a Minimum Viable Design, therefore the outputs of the sprint will be early prototypes that form the basis of ongoing research, testing, validation and iteration until the final product is developed and launched.

Building Your Internal Capability


The overwhelming response we get from participants is that the process not only solved what we had bought to the table during the initial sprint, but it had given them a process, an experience and a set of tools that they continued to use with their teams, customers and stakeholders on other projects.

Did We Mention Learning by Doing Through Play?

While our focus is on strategy development and strategic design, we understand the importance of meaningful games and playfulness to help in the process of opening up our innate potential of creative thinking and problem solving.

beer game nab

G4C experiences


Contact me

Please contact me at marigo@strategicinnovationlab.com if you have any questions about a Gamification Design Sprint or if you would like to book a keynote, masterclass or a bespoke strategic design session with your organisation.

Purchase Our Tools

We have a selection of exclusive tools that we have developed and use during our Gamification Design Sprint workshops that we are making available to the public. If you would like to make a large order please fill in the form below and let us know what you need.

All prices are in US dollars and include international postage and shipping.

Gamification Design Sprint Starter Pack

This pack includes everything you need to run your own Gamification Design Sprint. It includes: a facilitators deck (150 slides), playbook (80 pages of templates), and one deck each of the Tiny Games cards (66 in the deck), Empathy cards (14 in the deck) and Core Strengths/Blockers cards (24 in the deck). Extra design cards can be purchased separately.


Tiny Game Cards

Tiny Game Cards have been developed to help you and your team with the rapid ideation process for gamification design. The deck contains 66 cards: 15 gameplay, 15 technology, 15 game mechanics and 15 ethics cards. There are 5 wild cards and one instruction card.


Empathy and Design Bias Cards

There are 12 archetype cards in this deck and two instruction cards on how to develop a persona of your target audience and how to identify any design bias that you and your team may have.


Core Strengths and Blockers cards

This deck contains a set of core strengths cards (superpowers) and key blocker cards (anti-superpowers) including instructions on how to use them in problem solving.


Gamification Design Sprint Playbook

This is the playbook on its own which is over 80 pages of practical exercises and templates that you can use in developing a gamification strategy for a new or renewed product, service or process in your organisation.


Let us know how else we can help you:

If you have specific requirements or would like a large order please contact us so we can quote on providing the best product for you. We also tailor design our materials to meet the unique needs of your organisation or business challenges.