The Loan Surprise Game

There are all kinds of ways that you can learn from the communities you’re looking to serve. An team working on designing mobile financial tools to help victims of Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines devised an ingenious way to understand how people felt about getting loans. They made a board game.

In the Loan Surprise Game, the team set up shop in an area where they knew lots of the people they were designing for would congregate and then laid out a simple dice game where you would “roll” a loan. Once a participant rolled the dice, she was told the terms of the loan and asked if she’d take it.

On the first day they ran it, the goal of the game wasn’t to actually design financial products on the spot, but to grasp how members of this community felt about loans and what factors made them willing to take them on. The team learned about how bank loans were perceived as inaccessible to those with little income, but also how getting money from a loan shark was easy, but caused significant anxiety. They also used the game to probe deeper into what kind of financial support people most wanted. By getting participants to change some of the variables, they were able to see what kind of loans were attractive and which sort would never work.

On the second day of the Loan Surprise Game the team actually moved from research to prototyping by adding loan options and qualifications. It was a way to ask more profound questions about how people would actually borrow money, and most importantly, it got people talking.

By putting scenarios in front of people and getting their reactions, you quickly engage them in your research and create an opportunity to deeply understand what they want, fear, and need.

Source: IDEO

The Loan Surprise Game

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