Creating shared experiences through playing board games

Cranium characters Have you played a board game lately? In the era of technology based gaming and simulations, board games have either moved online or have seemingly lost their appeal to the masses (at least to some of my friends they are). When I was a kid, we used to play Monopoly. When I was in law school, my study group used to play pictionary in between studying Torts Law and International Law. Then we seemingly moved on with creating experiences using other types of games. Second Life, for example, has been used as an opportunity to connect with friends while learning something together. One of my nephews would tell you that he’s partial to using Wii while another to PS3 but both gaining similar levels of learning a skill. When played with another person or a group, the exercise becomes an opportunity to create shared experiences.

As managers we are always looking for ways to create team cohesion and board games are actually one way to do this. In as much as we create shared experience, its concomitant effect is shared history which can be leveraged when crunch time happens and you need to get everyone`s help to complete a project.

As instructional designers, we use board games to convert a potentially mundane and possibly dry topic into something that instructors and facilitators can be excited about to use in learning more about their student`s experiences in their classrooms.

Usage of Cranium for Learning
Last night, a couple of neighbours and I played Cranium (game you can get at Starbucks, online, game, department and other fine stores). It`s like combining Pictionary with Charades, Karaoke (ok humming), Word Games, Trivial Pursuit, and Jeopardy all at once. There`s even clay that you need to mold to get a game point. Being that our group comprised of professionals who have seen team building exercises in the past or have been in training, we modified the rules to make it more fun, easier to navigate since most of us have not played this game, and still reached the goal (which we later turned to just Pictionary as we found that portion of the game to garner the most laughter).

We remembered that the point of the game is to create a shared experience through gaming and thus create a better understanding of the various perceptions of the group.

As I translate this experience in teaching a class, a facilitator will get a glimpse of the learner’s approach to responding to a query.

In instructional design, it provides a knowledge check without looking like a test.

In management, this allows managers to adjust on the fly their behavioural and attitudinal approach to managing their people without making it look like it was an abrupt shift of personality.

My challenge for you today is to find a group of friends and play any board game. Don`t think too much about the goal other than just to have fun. Then when its done, reflect upon the experience (even do a debrief which is what I did casually with my friends) and see how (and if) it affected your relationship with your friends and what learning you may have gained from the experience. Then post your thoughts here and allows us into your shared experience with your friends.

2 comments to Creating shared experiences through playing board games