Method: Game Board Journey


The game board consists of a visual patient journey printed on A2 cardboard paper, three 3 cm high wooden pawns and three 3 cm diameter wooden chips. The game board visualizes the customer journey in a simplified form, showing the main touchpoints on a winding journey through the board and pictures taken of people, surroundings and artifacts.

Layout The board layout was kept as simple as possible to allow for fast comprehension in the interview situation and leave space for scribbles on the paper. Much of the information present in earlier visual iterations, such as descriptions of touchpoints, problems encountered or people involved, were left out. Even though we wanted to imitate a game board design, we kept the visual overview of the board solemn as we did not want to overstate the entertainment aspects of games.
Images: During earlier phases we had taken a vast amount of photographs from the hospital. Some of these were included in the board to provide visual triggers for the interviewees and allow them to point out specific people, places or items that affected their experience.

Text The amount of text was kept minimal. It included a description of the purpose of the board and names of different touchpoints. Between the touchpoints where waiting times were considered to be too long we included a notification of time in weeks that the patient has to wait.

Symbols and icons The symbols included round color-coded circles to specify touchpoints, a general winding journey timeline and arrows pointing from a touchpoint to the next. Colors usually specified those touchpoints that were either procedurally or temporally close to each other. For example, sample-taking consists of three touchpoints which were all coloured in light green.

Materials The game board was printed on cardboard to give it the correct material feel. The pawns and chips were chosen to be wood so that they could feel comfortable and warm on touch in comparison to e.g. plastic or metal alloy.

1. Short textual instructions to orientate the participant
2. Touchpoints are visualized on a timeline and colour-coded according to treatment phases
3. Pictures taken of personnel and surroundings
4. Differing treatments presented as diverging paths
5. Wooden pawns representing significant persons
6. Wooden chips representing significant events


The interviews in which the game board was used were held at the hospital and lasted approximately 1,5 hours each. Each interview was recorded on audio for later analysis. The game board was placed at a table in the middle of the room with chairs set close to the table. The ages of the interviewees ranged between 25 to over 70 years and all of them had gone through at least some parts of the treatment. We asked them to bring with them someone that had been close to them during the process and any kinds of important items they wanted to show.

The interviews were structured in three main parts: general questions, game board questions and closing questions. The first part started with an introduction to the purpose of the interviews and general questions based on first impressions of the hospital. At this stage the main purpose was to set a comfortable mood for the interviews. After this, the game board was introduced and the patients were asked to place the pawns and chips on specific parts of the board to mark significant people and events that they had encountered. This activity often sparked discussions about specific events that the patients felt deeply about. At times the distinction between people and events became blurred as the discussion on significant events often involved significant people, and vice versa. We did not consider this a major drawback as the pawns were able to trigger reflection on patients’ experiences, which was the main aim of the interviews.

After the pawns were placed, the questions focused on specific parts on the map. As we wanted to keep the interviews as flowing as possible, we picked up clues from the patients’ reflections to point to specific touchpoints. This was continued until all touchpoints the patients had experienced were discussed. If the patients mentioned any physical items, such as letters from the hospital, we asked them to present them for discussion. Finally, we ended the interview with issues that the patients still wanted to address that had not come up in the interviews. Sometimes these final discussions proved to provide valuable information that we had not thought of before.

The data produced from the interviews included audio recordings that were transcribed for analysis and images from the placement of the props on the table. These were pre-analyzed by the researchers and further studied in a two-day sense-making workshop.

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Game Board Journey by Juha Kronqvist is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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