Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems


This is a paper about 'design-by-playing'. As our paradigm case of this approach we will refer to a game played at Konsumentverket, the national Swedish board for consumer policies, in 1988. The main reason for us to construct such an organisational design game was the shortcomings we had encountered in our earlier use of traditional systems description methods in participatory design processes. No matter how suitable the traditional methods may have been for making requirement specifications for technical implementation, they did not support participatory and involved acting. To many users systems development is a boring activity, and key issues to them, like work organization, skill requirements, division of labour and cooperation in the work process are treated superficially. Inspired by the arts and the humanities a narrative language utilizing game and play metaphors for setting up participatory dramatic contexts, is suggested to replace or at least supplement a science based language of true pictures of reality in systems development. As a background for the seriousness of the 'design-byplaying' approach a conceptual framework grounded in the language-games philosophy of the later Wittgenstein is outlined.