“Dear publishers,

we designed and developed The Visual Language Cards, a learning game on visual grammar that is also a tool for designers. We had a full academic year of iterations through several play test groups and we printed a short number of decks to be able to play it and promote it. The full game consists of a deck of 45 cards, 4 gallery boards, 4 gallery standards; 4 sets of 10 tokens; and 1 sand clock of 1 minute.

We are looking for a suitable publisher, as it is a special game. You can read more about the game and the research involved in our website: http://ponsverhoog.org/visual-language-cards/

Do you think we are eligible for your line of boxed games? We would like to present it to you.

Looking forward,

PonsVerhoog”

The story of My Photography Toolbox starts in September 2017 with this letter. This was the short presentation email we sent to a publisher in Amsterdam to find out if a previous game we had developed, The Visual Language Cards, would fit their catalogue.

Once it’s over, diving into a design process helps understand the sequence of events and why the outcome is such.

We worked with notes, pictures, organized the sequence of events, so the process is now a story we want to share. It was conceived and developed in nine months, although it’s main research was done previously for over a year and it will be displayed in small. pieces (#myphotool #ponsverhoog @play, learn, rise).

Gee! The publisher answered! They would like to meet us and have a look at the Visual Language Game (although they were not sure it would match their market, uhm). Why did we, in the first place, propose a collaboration to them? We thought they could be interested since they had many books on the subject, but only a few games. So hup! we packed our prototype in a beautiful self-made box and to Amsterdam we went to convince them that our products were a perfect match.

The meeting was friendly and they were interested, but aaargh not in the game, only on the concept. The reason: it was a “didactic material”, not suitable for their network of museums and concept stores. One of us was disappointed. The other proposed to think of an adaptation.

Whew, after the meeting, our conclusions were completely different: while one thought there’s nothing to do, the other perceived a genuine interest on the concept. This is why nowadays we fully recommend designers to work in pairs. What two eyes couldn’t see, the other pair could, otherwise MPT wouldn’t exist.

October. After our different perception about the publisher interest, one convinced the other to work on a spin-off of our game. We started discussing what would be a good adaptation of the Visual Language Cards. The first idea was to SWITCH it into a photography game and toolbox for people interested in knowing more about visual grammar and its significance. Yo-ho-ho, we had a clear CONCEPT!. So we made a short two sentence PROPOSAL, sent the email to the publisher, and … they liked it.
 
We started working on the new concept ANALYZING what was valuable on the first game to bring it into the second. Of course, the RESEARCH done! We had spent months in reading and organizing the theories and concepts into a didactical sequence. Although it was obviously too extensive, so we divided the concepts into basic ones and complex ones. We were going to work with the basic principles in order to have clear mechanics.
 
Even so, after some hours playing with the VLC prototype, discussing the GOAL and the possible game MECHANICS, d’oh, the first game idea was quite complex. We named it Meaningful Photography card game.