At XPLANE we’ve created a variety of digital games that help participants to build new skill sets or to activate strategy and processes. The anonymity, the ease of time and place accessibility, and the stickiness of digital experiences definitely serve a purpose as valuable tools in the work environment.
But there’s something else we want to slide across your table. Board games. That’s right. Unplugged, de-screened, old school, tangible, touchable board games. The kind where people gather around a table, look at each other in the eyes, and play together.
It’s not a new concept — that board games create circumstances — basically lower-stakes parallel worlds—that operate as safer spaces for players to take more risks. Places to engage openly, that provide the opportunity to learn from both personal mistakes and direct interaction with the other players. That’s why we’re surprised when clients are sometimes skeptical and slowly back out of the room when we bring up the board game idea with them. To us, it’s a clear logical step, because we’ve seen firsthand how the numerous business board games we’ve designed bring to life improved social gaming behaviors that directly transfer into break rooms and conference rooms.
Our experience shows that our customized board games give teams a new language and way of seeing each other outside of the habitual, sometimes negative, narratives where we, as humans, can get entrenched. Board games bust us out of those narratives and give us a chance to examine whether the stories we tell ourselves are true/useful and allow us to see ourselves in new ways, too. Helping to relieve personal and team anguish. How cool is that? To put it in more science-based terms, real-life game playing activates empathic resonance circuits and rewires the brain, so we can become more effective team players and better learn how to interact with and play on different teams1.
Board games automatically put players in a position of human-to-human engagement. Customized board games can replicate a vast array of workplace dynamics and concepts.
Whether you are focused on a cultural shift, activating your vision and strategy, implementing new policies, processes or skillsets, board games create an interactive human experience that promotes real discussion, real listening, and allows people to be seen and heard in new ways. Promoting collaboration and a positive competitive spirit is a solid first step toward improving work culture and better business outcomes.
We recognize that, in a world where we spend a lot of time in a state of disconnection and digitalization, the idea of this kind of interaction might raise the pulse and increase the temple sweat a bit. But here’s the very real thing to consider: We can no longer operate strategically by working in our digital silos. We must expand and engage in developed, shared problem-solving and co-creative approaches in order to stay competitive. Board games generate the conversations and insights that can heighten your collaborative and listening skills—build the ways of working that prepare your business for the future.
1Seara-Cardoso, Ana, et al. “Affective Resonance in Response to Others' Emotional Faces Varies with Affective Ratings and Psychopathic Traits in Amygdala and Anterior Insula.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5321475/