Recently I took part in an event coordinated by a team from Stanford (http://dschool.stanford.edu/), at the Maker’s Space, called Design Thinking. It was a very interesting workshop about user oriented design.
What happened is that each one of us had to share a travelling experience with a partner. Second, you had to interview your partner more about him and his experience and try to dig deeper in what he felt about that experience. Next came the brainstorming session with a different partner trying to find an idea about what to create for your initial partner. The last step was to make the thing and show it to your partner and see if you did something he might click with.
It was interesting because in conceptual game design we don’t usually do it user centred. We do not care so much about what the user want. We care more about what we would want to play. The functional game design though is using both methods, since designing the control profiles and HUD requires a much more user oriented type of design.