Participant Reflections on a Game Jam for Collaborative Professionals

I spent last weekend immersed in board games, at the CoRe Jolts Game Jam for Collaborative Professionals.  The event was conceived, organized and hosted by mediator colleague, Sharon Sutherland (@ssuth).

Collaborative Games Jam 2

I’m not much of a “gamer”.  Yet, I appreciate the power of a well-designed game, be it board or online.   So when I heard about the opportunity to actually design a collaborative game, I thought, go for it!  Just say “yes”.  I was glad I did.  Fun.  Learning.

The goal was to create collaborative board games.   We were divided into teams, and with minimal guidelines, tasked with creating a collaborative board game, of our choosing, from scratch.

Collaborative Games Jam 3

Here’s 10 observations (and a few pics) of the event (which started on a Friday night, and ran through till late Sunday afternoon).

  1. Teamwork.  We worked in small teams (5-6 people each).   Team formation followed time spent getting to know each other, and playing a few existing collaborative board games, together.
  2. Diversity.  Each team was intentionally diverse; e.g., inter-generational, gender, life/gaming experience, storytellers…
  3. Collaborative Games Jam 4Space and tools.  A welcoming space for teamwork and socializing – in this case, a university facility setting.  And, tools; paper, scissors, crayons, dice, creativity card decks, etc… tools of the trade.
  4. Breaking bread time.   Social time is critical to any team success, whether in a face-to-face setting or virtual (personal, non-business, conversations).  Food and drink time – a motor for creativity.
  5. Go with the flow.  The direction each team took followed the team members’ passion.  Things happen when you go with the group’s passion – urgency, opportunity, motivation – as a unifier, as a magnetic attractor.
  6. Collaborative Games Jam 5Build on… We built on existing frameworks; e.g., existing collaborative games designs, common board game patterns (this is where gamer expertise plays large).   Adapting what already exists is a hallmark of innovation practice.
  7. Incubation time.   The 2.5 day format allowed for lots of idea incubation time (sleep or whatever).   Idea incubation is a creativity trigger, if there ever was one.
  8. Cross-pollination.  Each team intermittently shared their progress, and gained feedback, with another team; networking ideas.
  9. Iteration.  Solutions evolved via an integration of thinking (designing) and doing (playing, testing).  Given the weekend time box, iteration really is the only option.
  10. Welcome uncertainty.  Creating something new, the collaborative way, requires trust in the process and letting go of the outcome.  The Dynamic Duo: Collaboration and Chance.

Many thanks to Sharon, for organizing the weekend’s activities, and nurturing our creative side.

Collaborative Games Jam 1

Where the games end up, product-wise, is anybody’s guess.  Maybe the weekend was the end of it.  Maybe someone(s) will act on their passion, and take it to the next step.

Ever participated in a games jam, of any kind?

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