mixed in less serious moments


hid the true purpose of the game


distanced from
high school life


a design guide

an educational game

outcome A

outcome B

High-level guidelines are awesome, but what does an engaging and effective learning experience look like?

By way of example, we curated a learning experience that concretely incorporates the heuristics.

The game can't possibly achieve equal success in the early rounds of testing without the support it receives from academic and design theories, as demonstrated by the following two design models.

With Play for People Skills as a guide and
Terrible Workers as a reference,
we aspire to empower educators to craft similar enriching learning experiences, enhance current curricula, and immerse students in environments conducive to fostering interpersonal skill development.

Additionally, to make the guide more accessible, we also provided a printed handbook version for the clients.

Magic Circle Model

Embedded Design Techiques

It’s an excellent way to present dense research.
Often, we have a thick report, and no one reads it.
This guide is digestible — anyone can pick it up
and learn something new.

— HCI Teaching Professor
commented at presentation

So how might we shift the motivation of students to be more prepared for the real world?

Drawing from rigorous research, we present 10 heuristics to guide the design of both in-class and out-of-class activities

Thriving Beyond Grades:
Embracing Personal Growth in Schools

Project Presentation

Concept Trailer (watch on youtube)

Product photos

Introducing Terrible Workers,

a communication-based social card game that implicitly trains students' interpersonal skills, preparing them for the ever-changing, innovation-driven economy.

Curious about actionable steps, research evidence, etc?

Visit the Play for People Skills site!

The game encourages students to bring out
the best version of themselves by pitching to
be hired for diverse kinds of jobs
(from a vice president to a pirate!). Such fictional scenarios ensure enough psychological distance from daily life and create a fun, low stakes environment to engage in active thinking and self reflection.

Raising students’ awareness of people skills is the first step to their actively practicing and getting better at these. Terrible Workers is sure to bring out playful competition, social connection, excitement, and lots of laughter.

Today, we live in a constantly evolving,
innovation-driven world. While the education system does excel at shaping the minds of
high-achieving and determined students,
we must acknowledge a serious drawback:
high school students tend to be motivated
solely by grades and college applications.

As a result, students are book smart and have
a checklist mindset towards learning.

Curious about the research and design process that shaped the guide and the game?

Find the details in the
Journey section
right below.

Real world

Grade-focused mindset,

little active thinking
or reflection

Real world

Increased self-awareness and positive self-perception

from the Noun Project

Immersive environment with choices, feedback, and rules

Game world

I loved when we had to come up with speeches on the spot because although it was challenging, it turned out I be funny.

Test player testimonial

This was a very fun game and encouraged us to collaborate as a team as well as play for ourselves!

Test player testimonial

...get better at
working with people!

... be a more confident
speaker with less stutters.

My goal is to

Post-play Responses

...get into a college.

... have a 4.5 first
semester GPA.

My goal is to

Pre-play Responses

play session


Survey question we asked

(Short term experiences) would still be effective.
It will be a memorable experience and change the way the students interact.

Feedback from Heather Kelley

Game Designer, one of the five most powerful women in gaming by Inc. magazine

>> Vision video from the research phrase