Many universities seem to incorrectly assume that their students know how to plan and organise their work and time. When students are confronted with vaguely defined assignments and requests, this often causes an overwhelming feeling. I think this is related to the amount of stress, anxiety and demotivation that students often experience.

Overvue is a planner designed to teach students how to organise their work and time. It uses gamification to teach playing students about planning by focusing on specific knowledge and skills that involve planning. Unlockable skills in Overvue range from making sure work is done in time, to clearly describing a task.

I’ve created the prototypes for Overvue to test and learn about the stated problems. The working name ‘Overvue’ is not the name of a final product.

A list of handwritten notes about preferred behaviour for planning.
A list of behaviour which, if practised, improves planning skills.

Focus on desired behaviour

Overvue is designed to stimulate and practise behaviour which is aligned with the goal of educating an unskilled planner to achieve mastery. At the start of the project I’ve defined a shortlist of desired behaviour for successful planning. To compose this list I’ve done research by reading studies and books written by guru’s like David Allen (Getting Things Done), Stephen R. Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) and interviewed numerous students who struggled with planning.

Games often allow the player to unlock skills which enhance the capabilities of the avatar they’re playing with. In Overvue the player is made aware of a specific planning skill when she unlocks the skill. From that point on the player will be rewarded with points – as a means to recognise improvement towards the player and provide positive feedback – whenever the player shows that specific skill by practising it.

Instant feedback

In most computer games feedback is provided instantly. I’ve wanted to implement an instant and continuous feedback system as a part of Overvue. That’s why I’ve designed a system which actively validates each action by the player that is bound to a specific skill. Whenever the player is doing something right, this will be displayed as positive reinforcing feedback and an updated amount of points.

A green pop-up shown inline, with feedback on completing a certain skill for the shown task.
Instant inline feedback to reinforce player behaviour.
A quick sketch showing a potential lay-out for an interface.
An early sketch for Overvue, containing both the Calendar- and Activities views in a single window.


I’ve applied the Lean UX process of ‘Think, Make and Check’ to start learning how a game like Overvue should be developed. I’ve discussed and tested the prototypes with over 30 students who struggled with planning, continuously improving the design. As the design improved, many students regularly started asking when the app would launch as they were interested in using it.

A list of Activities to be done, with the amount of XP to be earned, its urgency, description and status.
The Activity list contains all the currently relevant Activities.
A pop-up is shown, because the player just levelled up after completing an Activity.
Progress is measured and displayed using levels, experience points and ranks.
A window with a list of locked and unlocked skills, like 'Things to do' and 'In no time'.
Progress is measured by monitoring player activity related to specific skills.