What The Block

Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID)Denmark


Production / Student


Cyrus Clarke, John Ferreira


What The Block is a project which is all about engaging people through design to learn and discover the potential of new technologies. We started out with Blockchain, since designers working with Blockchain, we had been inundated with requests from colleagues, peers, clients, family and friends to explain Blockchain – the problem was we couldn’t find any good existing material out there.

Through our research we realised that many people were frustrated with trying to understand what blockchain is and had a poor understanding of what it could be used for. Since mass adoption of the technology is some way away, and there are few opportunities to really use it in everyday life, we oriented our game on trying to quickly address the basics of what blockchain is, before moving on to the more difficult task of allowing people to create their own concepts.

Our approach was to create an analog game format which inspires curiosity and allows people to learn without any prerequisite knowledge, in a fun and fast-paced manner. Through top-down learning, we immerse participants in the world of Blockchain, build their vocabulary and knowledge, and allow them to start asking relevant and insightful questions, which often evolves into a group discussion. This is facilitated by us, using tools like lectures, slides and stories to reinforce knowledge.

Our workshops range from half a day to five day sessions. In longer sessions we run a full design workshop, in order to help people come up with robust concepts which employ the features of Blockchain – facilitating value transfer, in transparent systems, where trust is a feature.

Thus far we have had around 100 people play the game, and the feedback has been great. We’ve heard from many people that they’d struggled for months trying to grasp even the basics of Blockchain, but by playing our game, in just a few hours they not only could understand what Blockchain is, but could begin to craft their own concepts. Many of our workshop participants work within NGOs or large public sector organizations and they’ve told us that our approach has helped them uncover a world of new opportunities.

We think What The Block is a worthy entry to this category as it is seeking to use design to engage with people’s pure curiosity, to demystify a topic which many have found confusing, by using a fresh and accessible approach which has yielded great results.


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