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Saxton connects with... Dr Kate Raynes-Goldie

Farah Parkinson
18 Jun 2019

Meet Dr. Kate Raynes-Goldie, a game designer and innovation facilitator.

When asked to explain her core skills as a game designer, she says, “One of my super powers is seeing and identifying key trends and technologies and what impact they’ll have years before they become ‘a thing.’ For example, I was one of the first to write about internet memes in 2002 and about ‘friending’ before it was a verb in 2005. But I’d say the defining moment was my PhD on Facebook years before it became part of everyone’s life. In 2008, I recognised and wrote about how Facebook was going to take away our privacy. I spoke to Mark Zuckerberg (CEO of Facebook) at the time and he confirmed what I suspected. Flash forward 10 years and Cambridge Analytica finally woke us all up to the high costs of giving away our information to social media companies like Facebook.”

Kate doesn’t like to do things in halves which is why she currently has three mentors.

She explains, “Mentors are so important. They help me to continually learn and think in many different ways so I bring the most value to my clients, who want to know what matters in the current environment and how everything connects.

“For the creative and innovative aspect of my work, I’ve recently started working with Wayan Karja, who is an acclaimed painter in Bali, Indonesia. Painting is all about not being perfect. He says it’s about trying something without knowing if it will look right. You have to be okay risking that you might destroy it. It teaches you about life, because life isn’t perfect. A powerful lesson!

“I’m also working with global entrepreneur Landi Jac on the business strategy and global trend side of my work, as well as Sahaja Springer, who uses innovative modalities like kinesiology to help entrepreneurs be at their best."

“I’d say all my big breakthroughs have been because of my teachers and mentors, so I have endless gratitude to all of them,” says Kate.

Kate maintains that the key standout in her industry is the power of play, the importance of game culture and how both are really important for the future.

She says, “Let me explain. I talk to a lot of people in my work. I think we are all feeling very anxious and even scared about the present and what feels like a very uncertain future. It may seem like the solution is even more seriousness. But it’s a time when we need playfulness more than ever because it’s a great tool for developing solutions and key future ready skills.

“My clients find games and playfulness help them step away from limiting mindsets and into more creative, innovative spaces where new things — and even a new future — are possible."

“In addition to keynote speaking, I also lead gamification and playfulness workshops. My clients tell me it’s incredibly empowering to be able to create something new in a short period of time, when they didn’t think it was possible. It means they are able to experience themselves as bold creators. They can take this back to their work and feel more confident about trying new approaches or creating something new.

My clients find games and playfulness help them step away from limiting mindsets and into more creative, innovative spaces where new things — and even a new future — are possible. Dr Kate Raynes-Goldie

“Games are incredibly effective in helping people learn new skills and ways of thinking through direct experience, which means they can be applied right away. It’s about moving from just understanding something theoretically to actually doing it. For example, clients have told me they’ve actually experienced the value of really listening to other team members, which is far more powerful in terms of change than just knowing theoretically that listening is important.

“Games are now deeply embedded into our culture and are an influential powerhouse, especially for young people. The games industry is now bigger than the film and music industry combined (nearly USD$140 billion last year!). So, if you want to understand and engage with young customers and employees, most of whom who have grown up with games as part of everyday life, you have to understand game culture,” says Kate.

Kate made her first video game when she was 13 or 14 with her best friend Helen (they’re still best friends) but it was her early experience with games beyond the screen that really inspired her - think early versions of Escape Rooms or Pokémon Go. These games helped her to rediscover the power of play.

“In 2006 I had the good fortune to play a game developed by acclaimed gamification expert Jane McGonigal. It involved many people running around the streets of New York. A year later. I worked with a friend in Toronto to develop an alternate reality game (probably what would be called a cross platform or transmedia game or mixed reality game today) and I got hooked. This game won awards in Berlin and New York. Through this experience I saw how games and playfulness, especially in the context of the ‘real’ world, have so much power to engage people and build community. Play is powerful! I see again and again how games and playfulness (re)connect people and places and create spaces for people to be creative, be bold, try new things and be innovative,” says Kate.


When it comes to finding inspiration for new games, Kate says it’s everywhere.

“Acclaimed game designer and one of the fathers of gamification, Jesse Schell, has talked about how game designers can find usefulness in any area of expertise, such as architecture or teaching or design.

“Consider how there are games about cities, games about soccer, games about human drama, games about stacking blocks together, or even games about cooking and cleaning.

“So, I’d say everything inspires me but that’s probably a really annoying answer, so I’ll say right now I’m really inspired by painters and the practice of painting as a way of getting back in touch with one’s creativity, intuition and even playfulness,” she says.

If you want to understand and engage with young customers and employees, most of whom who have grown up with games as part of everyday life, you have to understand game culture Dr Kate Raynes-Goldie
Kate is …

Listening to: An episode of Between Worlds on the future of retail, specifically how AI is being used to super accurately predict what will sell best in which vending machine. She also loves 99% Invisible (a design podcast) and WA Real (a podcast about the inspiring Western Australians). And a shout out to Kate’s own podcast on the power of play, Fearlessly Playful!

Would like to meet: Valentina Tereshkova (the first woman in space, from way back in 1963!), Will Wright (a foundational game designer who created the iconic Sim City), Stewart Butterfield (co-founder of Slack, popular enterprise software), and Siddhārtha Gautama (whose teachings are the core of Buddhism).

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