Project By Maryanne Lee, Laura Galos

True Story: The get to know you game for people you’ve known your whole life.

Introducing True Story

True Story is a game about stories. Players collect stories from their family members. As these stories are internalized, family members understand the values that lie behind each others’ choices and are able to start predicting how each person would react to a given situation. Caregiving family members can then support their parents as they begin to make lifestyle changes related to aging.


Our value promise

We will create a safe space for open discussion of aging-related topics.



Over the past 9 months, we researched, designed for, and tested solutions that can help families members communicate more openly. Specifically, while we were conducting qualitative research around the impact of aging on family relationships early in our project, we found that adults and their aging parents often have trouble discussing aging-related life transitions. For example, discussions around limiting driving or moving into assisted living are often too difficult to broach, and are put off until moments of crisis. We felt that we could create something to help facilitate open communication among family members much earlier, so that when aging-related discussions eventually occur, the family will already have developed a culture of open communication.

We talked to 9 participants in our early research to understand the problem, and based on the conversations and research we conducted with our participants, we came to 2 main insights.

  1. Elderly individuals fear asking for help because taking others’ time and resources will result in being robbed of their own independence.
  2. Adults avoid bringing up aging-related topics for fear of alienating their parents in later years.

In order to create a compelling solution that would stay true to what we learned from our participants, we came up with some guidelines. Our design would need to follow these guidelines in order for us to consider our product a success.

  1. The solution must be non-threatening to older individuals
  2. The solution must e approachable to family members
  3. The solution must be a catalyst for open conversation

While we came up with over 300 design ideas that could potentially help families have more open communication around aging-related topics, we finally settled on a game. Though the topics we heard about are serious, we felt a game was the right approach to increasing a culture of communication within families. By using a fun and familiar form, families would have something they could spend time together doing. If we could get families talking through fun times together, we could create a safe space to bring up difficult topics.

The Game

True Story is a game centered around a deck of cards.

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Each card has a prompt to tell a story.

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The object of the game is to collect stories.

Why are stories important? Telling stories helps families not only learn about one another, but over time as stories are internalized, family members understand the values that lie behind each others’ choices and are able to start predicting how each person would react to a given situation. In our research, prediction was particularly important to families with elderly individuals who were experiencing cognitive impairment. Caregiving family members found value and relief in making decisions as they believed their parent would have wanted.

Many of our cards are quite whimsical, sort of get-to-know-you questions. We hope this game is seen as a fun activity for families to do together. Especially for families that live far from one another, ensuring together-time is spent on enjoyable activities is very important.

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But in line with our mission, we wanted to make sure the cards also prompt aging-related discussions. The earlier the game is played, the more opportunity families have to develop a culture of open conversation around these topics. Our research revealed 4 top difficult topics. These are health, driving, finance, and living arrangements. So we made sure some of the cards cover each of those topics.

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Real-world testing

We tested our product out in the real world to see if the game succeeded in creating a safe space for talking about aging-related topics. Not only did our participants feel comfortable opening up about their stories, they also showed they were comfortable talking about otherwise difficult subjects.

One participant shared a story about her daily tasks:

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Another participant recognized the value of the game, saying that it might help her bring up difficult financial topics with her grown daughter.

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Overall, our participants thought this would be useful to get to know family members on a much deeper level.

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How Do You Play True Story?

To play, you start with the deck and 2-4 players.

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Player 1 draws a card and answers the story prompt. He or she has the option of telling a true story or a fiction story.

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The other players guess whether the story is true or fiction.

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Player 1 reveals the answer.

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The player(s) who guessed correctly win a token to symbolize that they’ve collected a story.

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The first player to 10 tokens wins!