A collaboration from NBC Universal and New York University's Game Center

What does the next generation of social news games look like? Executives from NBCUniversal came together with students and faculty from the NYU Game Center for a workshop to imagine the possibilities.


An interdisciplinary team at NBCUniversal had created something special: a game called Ncredible, offering the next generation of social news engagement.

The game was developed by a multitalented team of designers and developers from NBC News Digital, led by VP of User Experience Ashley Wells. Ashley and his colleagues came to NYC Media Lab with a curiosity—what would experienced playtesters and game designers think of NBCUniversal’s new game product? How could Ncredible be improved upon? And, once the initial product had been rolled out, what were the possibilities for future development?

To help answer these questions, NYC Media Lab approached the NYU Game Center to offer a workshop to current and recent MFA students. In exchange for the opportunity to practice pitching ideas to a real-world client, NYU Game Center students would roll up their sleeves to generate valuable ideas and feedback on Ncredible.

The students, taking a look and coming up with ideas for us—it’s been amazing. The students came up with a bunch of things we hadn’t thought of, and some things we’d thought of—but in a different light. The expertise that they bring to bear is not something that we already have, so it’s priceless.
— Ashely Wells, VP of User Experience, NBC News Digital



Hosted by the NYU Game Center, Playtest Thursday is a weekly program during which students, faculty, and independent game designers share their work-in-progress games with a responsive crowd of students and game enthusiasts. Ashley and his colleagues joined the activities for an evening to give a brief presentation, playtest their game, and gather written feedback.


The following Saturday, 13 students and alumni convened with Game Center instructors, NYC Media Lab staff, and NBCUniversal executives for a full day workshop and pitch session. The group from NBCUniversal shared their experiences pitching the game internally, as well as their questions around future development. They challenged the students, who had engaged with the game in advance of the workshop, to share their feedback and pitch ideas for new features and use cases.

The students were guided by instructor Wade Tinney, a Game Center collaborator and NYC game designer with a background in working with large media companies. NYU Game Center faculty as well as Ashley and his colleagues were also on hand to help the students shape and refine their pitches. The workshop wrapped with a final pitch session to four guest executives from NBC News.

What surprised me most is how ready the client was to put the students into the role of game design experts. They loved dialoging with the students and really engaged with their ideas. But this is because the students had such good ideas! During the final presentations, the representatives from NBC were taking copious notes - because they were so interested in the ideas that the students were presenting.
— Eric Zimmerman, Arts Professor, NYU's Game Center


The exchange of value within this project was clear. NBCUniversal efficiently gathered feedback and ideas from a group of experienced game designers, while the students learned how to interface with a client on a real-world project. Ashley and his team embraced the educational aspect of their role, engaging with the students throughout the workshop. His team shared insights on how a mobile game is produced within a large media entity, outlining challenges and opportunities along the way.