Our games connect with these four main themes:
- Critical Thinking. Developing and practising essential skills in decision making and problem solving.
- Communication and Negotiation.
- Team Building
Critical Thinking can be thought of as something more than merely problem solving, although that is an important part of the critical thinking process.
There are many competing definitions for critical thinking. We feel it is best described as:
"Disciplined thinking informed by evidence and open-minded as to outcomes. It requires an honest and logical evaluation of self-bias and a reflection on unspoken or hidden assumptions."
In the games that provide an environment for practicing critical thinking skills we encourage to application of an understanding of the critical thinking model - putting it into practice.
Critical thinking calls for the practitioner to :
- Identify the nature of the core problem - getting to the 'root'.
- Prioritise the analysis and problem solving by identifying the inherent problem hierarchy.
- Identifying key enabling information needed to consider a solution.
- Identify and actively acknowledge hidden or unstated assumptions.
- Use simple, clear and precise language
- Understand the use and application of logic (and critically, the concept of fallacy).
- Test conclusions or plans against the evidence and if necessary review conclusions in the light of that test.
Critical thinking is now acknowledged as an important issue for higher education and all professional and academic disciplines. Like any skills-based concept, the opportunity to practise is vital - and a game is an excellent way to explore the practice safely.
Communication & Negotiation
Responsible Communication is more than merely effectiveness and clarity. The concept takes in the principle that in any communication, you have to take responsibility for its progress and the degree to which you are understood. Skills such as active listening play an important role here, as does mirroring and summarising. A Responsible communicator fully owns their part of any misunderstanding and works proactively to ensure that both parties to a communication are respected and understood. Responsible Communication can be characterised by thoughtfulness and self-reflection. If the recipient of your communication has not understood, is it that they are stupid, or you have not understood their perspective enough to explain properly? Responsible communicators will take the latter view. Games that bring out opportunities to practice this test players' ability to make effective and responsible communications during times of (simulated) stress and confusion - just like the real world!
Negotiation is central to pretty much all organisational and political processes, and yet it is not always fully understood as a discipline. We have too little opportunity to practice negotiation so that when it comes up we have fewer negotiation strategies to deploy. Negotiation is not about 'winning' or having your way but an important route to a mutual agreement that might involve compromise, consesnus and good communication. That is not to say that they outcome of every negotiation reaches an optimum solution every time. By playing games involving negotiation we get to test out strategies in a safe environment - and reflect on what worked and what did not, for us.
Team building games create an activity which highlights the importance of good communication, shows the the importance of planning before implementing a solution and usually provides challenges and problems that require the team to come up with a creative solution as a group.
This might also be in a time pressured or a low-information environment.
The joint working towards solutions to challenging problems engenders trust and cooperative attitudes between team members over the longer term.
Essential to any team building game is the reflective and analytic debriefing at the end - where the team if offered the chance to explicitly recognise what has been achieve for the team.
"I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand".
Games and gameplay are widely recognised as a technique for achieveing deep learning in a subject. Participants in games start to gain an intuitive feel for the problems and issues being covered in the game, be that an historical period or a contemporary crisis. Emerging gameplay can generate insights into the subject matter that might not have been as accessible or as readily understood merely by reading or listening.
Students (or indeed anyone seeking to widen their understanding of the world) typically gain:
- Empathy for other people and their lives by sharing and exploring their problems from their perspective.
- Understanding, by direct experience and role playing - 'learning by doing'
- Examine in a practical 'hands-on' way critical decisions around issues.
- Develop communication skills by practice and actively promotes critical thinking lively discussion of the issues.