The game changer



Designers and Stakeholders

Design phase:



Extended Abstract




This teaching activity enables students to imagine via personas how different stakeholders might receive their products, systems and services in terms of I) which values they perceive are associated with the product, system or service, and II) what kind of role that the product, system and service might play in their own lives as a “game changer”.


Designers and developers need to take responsibility and create products, systems and services that lead to positive environmental and social change.

Nudging (Thaler & Sunstein, 2008) can be a way of creating change through a product, system or service because nudging encourages people to act differently in ways that promote positive changes, sometimes in very unconscious ways, because of how salient qualities and features might influence behaviors.

However, when designing for change, designers may tend to focus on designing for stakeholders who are already ready to become change agents. There might even be a tendency to design for some stereotypes in that regard. For example, when producing stereotypes around vegans and view them as “natural” change makers, when it comes to environmental issues.

Not everyone might be inspired to use new products, systems or services that contribute to change. Simply because they are not motivated, and cannot associate themselves with being change makers. For example, why would a person who is into bodybuilding start to eat less meat, because it is good for the environment? Especially if the consensus within the bodybuilding environment is that protein contributes to building muscles, and that meat contains a lot of protein.

However, what if a new design, or the way that a product, system or service is introduced, could change a consensus within a specific group of stakeholders? An example of this is given in the video The Game Changers (2019) where bodybuilders are convinced to switch to a plant-based diet. This is an interesting example of how visual language, combined with celebrity presence and expert knowledge might convince a group of stakeholders to change both convictions and their resulting behaviors. It basically changes the game for them.

In this teaching activity, students will identify a stakeholder group, who they do not immediately recognise as the “natural” users of their product, system and service.

Based on empirical research on a specific stakeholder group, students create personas (see Grudin et al., 2002, and Guan et al., 2021) that could be part of this “radical”, but potential new stakeholder group. Students will then imagine how their product, system or service might create new ways of being and acting in the world from the point of view of the stakeholder.

When imagining this, students will judge what kind of visual material and storytelling might be the most convincing in relation to the selected stakeholder(s).

Finally, when students have created visual material, e.g., a video, that works like a commercial for their product, system or service, they will have an ethical reflection on how they argue for the change that their product, system or service might create in the stakeholder’s life.


After the teaching activity students will be able to:

  • create one or more personas, based on data and insights from empirical research of a selected stakeholder group,
  • imagine how their product, system or service might contribute to change in a specific stakeholder group and their environment,
  • judge which kinds of visual and verbal argumentation can convince this stakeholder group to change or contribute to change,
  • ethically reflect on the visual and verbal argumentation used.


This teaching activity happens in multiple steps, and forms a kind of mini-process within the second half of the Double Diamond design process (Design council, 2021), where an individual student or a student team 1) has identified the problem or design opening that they design for, 2) has come up with a design concept, and 3) are at a point in their design process where they reflect upon how they might reach a wider and more diverse group of stakeholders with their product, system or service.

The teacher should outline the below multi-step process in a way where students can work independently on each step.


Step 1: Identify stakeholder group

  • The students should identify a stakeholder group that they do not immediately think will identify with the values and vision behind their product, system or service.
  • Before this activity, students should have done some empirical research on this stakeholder group to get a grounded understanding of their mental models, their assumptions, convictions and values (e.g., in the teaching activities Listing stakeholders and their values, Mapping Value Landscapes, or Stakeholders values elicitation).

Step 2: Create personas

  • Based on this research, students should create one or more personas that reflect and sum up the findings of their empirical research. For inspiration, see the provided Persona worksheet.

Step 3: Create scenarios

  • Based on the personas, the students should create a scenario in the shape of a 1-2 minute video that works like a commercial for their product, system or service. The video should convince members of their stakeholder group (the personas) in a way that they perceive the product, system or service as a “game changer”.

Step 4: Reflection

  • Finally, students should have an ethical reflection on how they communicate with the selected stakeholder group, and how they argue for change through convincing visual material and the arguments, manifested via narratives in their videos.

  • The video The Game Changers (2019) can be used as an example of an interesting narrative that speaks to a certain set of values shared in a particular stakeholder group: the body building environment.


To assess whether the intended learning outcomes were attained by the teaching activity the following assessment activities can be carried out (in class or after class).


Assess students' learning students’ learning by asking them to record a personal video on their stance on the use of technology to make positive social and environmental change by nudging people.

Assess students' learning by asking them to perform a round robin brainstorming activity (formative assessment) reflecting upon how the visual materials and verbal arguments used in their videos may convince the selected stakeholder group to change or contribute to change, and ethical implications on such approaches.


In the assessment activity ask students to focus on:

  • describing how insights from empirical research served as foundation when creating personas.
  • explaining how their choices of visual material and verbal argumentation could convince this stakeholder group to change or contribute to change,
  • reflecting upon ethical implications of using communication for change-making by nudging people.


The Game Changers (2019, June 28). The Game Changers Official trailer [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSpglxHTJVM

Design council (2021). The double diamond design model. Retrieved on 2021-04-15 from https://www.designcouncil.org.uk/news-opinion/what-framework-innovation-design-councils-evolved-double-diamond

Thaler, Richard H; and Sunstein Cass R. (2008). Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Boztepe, Susan (2007). User value: competing theories and models. International Journal of Design, 1(2), 55-63.

Fogg, B.J. (2009) A behavioral model for persuasive design. In Persuasive '09: Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Persuasive Technology, 1–7. https://doi-org.proxy.mau.se/10.1145/1541948.1541999

Grudin, Jonathan; and Pruitt, John (2002). Personas, Participatory Design and Product Development: An Infrastructure for Engagement. Proceedings of participation and design conference (PDC 2002), 144–161.

Guan, Kathleen Wenyun; Salminen, Joni; Nielsen, Lene; Jung, Soon-gyo; and Jansen, Bernard J. (2021) Information Design for Personas in Four Professional Domains of User Experience Design, Healthcare, Market Research, and Social Media Strategy. In Proceedings of the 54th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 4446–4455