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Duration: 10 Weeks 


Britt Reyes 

Colleen Miller 

Leo Caballero 

Jasmine Attanasio



As young adults leave the house for the first time and embark on a journey to college or a new job they struggle to prepare and follow through with conversations that might be hard to have. People need opportunities to develop the skills necessary to have difficult conversations through a more positive mindset and understanding how to navigate difficult topics.  


Let's Taco  'bout it

Given the design space of conversation, our team created an award-winning conversation game to enhance in-person communication skills. Human connection is cultivated by a physical card game that invites participants to practice talking about difficult topics in a fun, safe environment.


Our goals during the research phase were to discover topics that were hard to discuss, understand why a discussion might get out of hand, and learn what makes a hard-to-have conversation successful. We took the route of interviewing and surveying because the best way of understanding conversations is to have conversations. We surveyed 55 people ranging from age 18 to 27 and interviewed 13 people along with a professional. 

Survey & Interview Insights 

Conversation topics users avoid- 




Sex and sexuality 

Personal Conflict 

How users prepare for conversations- 

Write their main points down 

Practice with another person 

Do not prepare at all 

How users establish their needs- 

Verbally at the beginning 

Not at all 

Locations users have conversations at-

Private space 

Coffee shop 


Characteristics of a difficult conversation- 

Personal or emotional topic 

Fear of being unlikable

fear of the other persona response 

Fear of consequences


How might we...

Through the data we collected from the first set of interviews and surveys we noticed three overarching statements we wanted to keep in mind while continuing our research and one final statement that defined the project. 

1. Develop skills necessary to have difficult conversations? 

2. Develop a more positive mindset when entering a difficult conversation? 

3. Make conversations more genuine through nonverbal methods?

Facilitate productive conversations around difficult topics? 



After collecting data from our interviews and surveys my job was to create personas based on our data found. I took every data point and made sure that our personas represented the people we spent time interviewing and surveying to create a personal connection and to have something to look back at while we continued our journey into prototyping and focus groups. 


Prototyping, Co-creation, & Focus Groups 

After another survey to understand sub-topics of some of our more broad topics, like politics, and personal, we created a low-fi prototype that we could use in a focus group setting. While in public, neutral, and private environments, we conducted three focus groups made up of strangers, peers, and friends. Our team observed to see if the groups could self-mediate, remain respectful, and learn new skills for future conversations. Specific features of the game such as the rules, the process of selecting a winner, and the method of setting boundaries were also analyzed. 

Observations and Insights 

Strangers- This group showed us that there needed to be a way to break up the seriousness in terms of the conversation. Almost like a pause or a way to bring something silly in. 

Peers- An icebreaker is needed before round one so that people are in a good mood and understand the boundaries of the other people. 


Friend Group- The topic cards needed to have sensitivity levels so the players can choose how serious the game gets. 


Story & Visual Design 

As research was conducted with target users, a pattern of fearing difficult conversations emerged. Later interviews and surveys confirmed that animated, playful branding was desired over a more simple and sophisticated design to make the difficult conversations less intimidating. So we made it taco-themed, because who doesn't love tacos? 

Topic Cards

Topic Cards

There are five topics that people tend to avoid, politics, religion, finances, sexuality and sex, and personal conflicts. So we split those topics into mild, medium, and hot to allow for more control over the heat of the conversations. 

Starter Cards

These cards are statement starters, sometimes it's hard to express thoughts and feelings. These cards help lead the conversations while also challenging the players to ask questions, and listen to different perspectives. 


Chill Churro Cards 

Whenever a player feels uncomfortable they can throw down a Chill Churro that will replace the conversation with a light-hearted topic or a funny question.


Rule Book 

Before jumping into a hard-to-have conversation the Rule Book prompts the players to use an ice breaker and to ask for any boundaries. This ensures that all the players are on the same page in terms of their mood and thoughts.


I know you might now want people jalapeno business but it's time to talk about your fillings with confidence!