I've been producing John Willshire's Artefact cards since he started it a couple of years ago and it's been fascinating watching it evolve from innocuous beginnings into a mature and sophisticated brainstorming tool. The latest evolution — a set of eight card packs each in different colours moves it on another step.
A while back, we had an interesting conversation about the underlying story of Artefact cards — the narrative that would inform its development, using Field Notes and their narrative about American Manufacturing heritage as a reference point. John identified playing games since what he wanted to do was engage a more child-like / creative / playful process around idea generation. From this, his colleague Fraser Hamilton devised the new packaging, which created a smaller, more compact format for the card packs than the previous lift-off rigid box from Moo.
The new packs have a delightful weight to them when they're held in the hand and we spent a lot of time perfecting the packs to fit the cards perfectly, which is very satisfying when you go to take out a card. To aid this, Fraser put an aperture on the closed side of the pack so you push the cards out from the back. Since the snugness is lost if any of the cards are removed, a sleeve was added to keep it all together. One key feature of Artefact Cards is that your ideas can be kept and added to later.
I thought it would interesting to look at the physical object language of these — the story they tell — and how the coloured cards move that story on.
Opening the standard Artefact For Desk corrugated box, which itself makes an oblique toy-reference as E flute corrugated is used in most toy packaging (think Lego), you see a couple of stickers and an instruction booklet, which sort of act as an MC introducing the main act, the cards along with a couple of Artefact Sharpies.
With the standard pack, which contains 8 packs of regular yellow cards, you tend to keep the packs in the box and take them out as when you need them — the box acting as a handy container to keep them together. With the coloured cards, the temptation is to take them all out and view them as a set. The colours add a very different quality, more child-like, toy-ish as well as adding another layer of organisational potential to your idea-generation (e.g. everyone can have different cards).
The colours are rainbow-ish, but pale enough to contrast with the Sharpies and so have a sweet, almost edible feel to them. This seems to combine with the rounded corners to remind you of Jelly Beans.
The coloured cards also seem to be happier when not laid out in strict rigid rows and columns, which seems to be the natural order of things with the yellow cards, but when they are, different patterns emerge that help to identify patterns in the ideas themselves.
I also couldn't help but notice that the eight colours of the cards matched the eight letters in the word A-R-T-E-F-A-C-T and so started to ponder anagram opportunities. I left them in the office, for anyone passing to shuffle them around, and here's some of what came up...
So, John... does this open up the possibility of a whole load of Artefact DIY word games?