Creating Agile Simulations and Games for Coaches and Consultants
We find games and simulations incredibly valuable in our coaching and training. Given the number of times we’ve seen “Does anyone have a game or simulation to … ?” on the mail lists, we know we’re not alone. While there’s leverage in using games that others create, it’s even better to create your own games to address your specific teaching points. In this session, we will introduce some essential elements of game design and demonstrate a process for designing a game starting with a learning objective. Participants will then use materials we supply to create their own Agile games.
Introduction to Game Design Elements (45 minutes)
We will introduce one of our existing teaching games (probably “Swamp,” a game Elisabeth created to explore probability and risk in teams) and lead a discussion in which we dissect the game to examine the core game design elements that it employs and how the game supports the learning objective.
We will introduce a simple process for creating games and simulations:
- Choose a learning objective or concept to explore.
- Identify important logistical requirements and constraints such as the number of players, the time frame, and the expected skill level of the players.
- Choose a mechanism (board game, card game, online game, building challenge, open ended simulation, etc.) that fits for the intended use.
- Choose a set of design elements to employ (or intentionally omit) that lend themselves to the learning objectives. (The presence or absence of Collaboration in a game can lend itself to lessons around teamwork, for example.)
- Draft the rules by which players will play the game.
- Play the game, discuss, and iterate. Keep iterating, tweaking the rules, until the game feels solid and fun, with lots of opportunities for insight.
We will introduce and explain key game design elements including: Strategy, Chance, Choice, Collaboration, Competition, Interference, Balance, Secrecy, Roles, and Turns. And we will demonstrate how to use these game design elements by suggesting ways they could be used to design games around learning objectives suggested by participants.
Forming Teams (15 minutes)
Participants will choose an objective for a game they would like to invent. Perhaps it will be a general concept to explore, like “technical debt” or perhaps it will be a specific lesson like “long feedback loops generally result in an increase in technical debt.”
Participants will then write their chosen purpose on a card, and will self-organize in teams of 2 - 5 people with shared interests.
Creating a Game (60 minutes)
Each team will work on creating a game that supports exploration or learning around the topic they’ve chosen.
To support the game creation, participants will receive handouts including an introduction to elements of game design as well as a collection of game parts from which they can create their own games.
(Note that teams will be able to keep their games and we will bring enough extra materials so that each team member should be able to leave with a complete copy of the game developed by their team.)
Elisabeth and Chris will act as game design advisers, make suggestions, and facilitate cross-team sharing and learning.
Game Party (30 minutes)
Teams will rotate around the room getting the opportunity to see, and perhaps play (if time allows), the games created by other teams.
To increase the learning during this part of the session we will ask participants to think about the game design choices they notice in the games created by other teams.
Final Words (30 minutes)
We will wrap up with a group discussion about insights gleaned from the process of creating games.
At this point we also intend to touch on how coaches and consultants can facilitate a debrief after a game or exercise to help the group distill lessons learned.
It’s Over, But We Hope It’s Not Over
After the session is over, we really hope to see these games floating around the conference, perhaps in open space or perhaps in informal gatherings in the various gathering places (like, oh, say, the bar). We would consider this session a wild success if we overhear a conversation that starts with something like: “Hey! Wanna try this new game I just created in that game design session for coaches? It’s intended to…”
- Learn about essential game design elements such as Chance, Balance, and Interference
- Discover how these game design elements can be used to design games to address specific learning objectives
- Learn how to turn commonly available materials into a game in a very short time frame
- Explore facilitation and debriefing techniques to help participants get the most out of a game or simulation
- Experience the fun of collaborative game design