A journey of personal transformation and innovation
Can we navigate the unknown future while preparing body and mind? Meet Doris Rusch, game design researcher, and the innovator behind Embodied Deep Game Design.
As a seasoned game design researcher at Uppsala University's Campus Gotland, Doris Rusch has spent many years exploring the intersection of game design and personal transformation. Driven by opportunity and change, she embarked on a new project - Embodied Deep Game Design, a coaching approach that combines her expertise in game design research with the power of personal transformation.
With a background in the humanities and almost two decades of experience, Doris Rusch initiated her exploration into game design research at MIT. According to her, games serve as a medium to explore and illuminate the human experience, going beyond conventional storytelling.
“I believe that stories are one of the most powerful sense-making tools humans possess. What games add is a way to model abstract systems, emotions, and feelings, providing metaphors to ground experiences in something tangible. When you model a system, you can dive deeper. This sparks playfulness and, with that, more potential for solutions,” explains Doris Rusch.
As she observed how the game design process meshed well with her understanding of coaching, she got intrigued and began to dive into the realm of games and mental health.
The big existential questions
"It’s been a long journey of exploration, and where it’s all coming together for me is that I’m really interested in the big existential questions,” she notes.
Doris Rusch's new take on coaching goes beyond games. It leverages the formal elements and structure of games to create a framework for self-exploration and personal development. Her approach also integrates somatic methodology, allowing individuals to intentionally reshape themselves over time.
"It's about using embodied practices to reshape ourselves, working with our bodies to take a different form over time, ultimately taking charge of our own story," emphasises Doris Rusch.
A communicative challenge
However, Doris Rusch acknowledges that her approach is not an intuitive fit for everyone. The challenge lies in effectively positioning and packaging this innovative coaching technique to find her audience and convey its uniqueness.
"The positioning and packaging are very important. How I get people to understand what this is that I’m offering," she notes.
To help her shape the future of coaching, Doris Rusch has founded the company Magic Circle Hut. Supported by advisors and a business mentor from UU Innovation, she envisions a future where her coaching approach evolves into a structured programme for innovators and change-makers. Empowering them to co-create transformative futures is at the core of her vision. She is also poised to launch an online group programme with a ready-to-go 10-week trajectory.
"Embodied Deep Game Design is a pioneering approach to personal development and innovation, and its impact is poised to grow as more individuals recognise the unique possibilities it offers," Doris Rusch concludes.