SERIOUSLY FUN ACTIVITIES FOR TRAINERS, FACILITATORS, PERFORMANCE CONSULTANTS, AND MANAGERS.
Our mission statement, copyright notice, and cast of characters.
Workshops by Thiagi evolves!
Re-examining a powerful concept.
DYADS AND TRIADS
Everything comes in twos and threes.
Learning and Fun
Laughter—and tears—enhance learning.
Digital Game-Based Learning
Marc Prensky surveys the computer game scene.
A cultural diversity jolt?
An Olympic Sentiment
A shared-letters puzzle.
Solutions to Last Month's Puzzle
Did you solve them correctly?
Change the Name
A Read.Me by any other name
Insights from “Sentry”
Deep thoughts from a brief story.
Easier said than done.
SERIOUSLY FUN ACTIVITIES FOR TRAINERS, FACILITATORS, PERFORMANCE CONSULTANTS, AND MANAGERS.
To increase and improve the use of interactive, experiential strategies to improve human performance in an effective, efficient, and enjoyable way.
Editor: Sivasailam (Thiagi) Thiagarajan
Assistant Editors: Raja Thiagarajan, Julie England, and Les Lauber
Managing Editor: Brenda Mullin
Editorial Advisory Board: Andrew Kimball, David Gouthro, Diane Dormant, Kat Koppett, Matt Richter, Steve Sugar, and <type your name here>
The materials in this newsletter are copyright 2002 by Workshops by Thiagi, Inc. However, they may be freely reproduced for educational/training activities. There is no need to obtain special permission for such use as long as you do not reproduce more than 100 copies per year. Please include the following statement on all reproductions:
Reprinted from PLAY FOR PERFORMANCE. Copyright © 2002 by Workshops by Thiagi, Inc.
For any other use of the content, please contact us (email@example.com) for permission.
All registered subscribers receive PLAY FOR PERFORMANCE free of charge.
However, to prevent us from becoming bankrupt, we have decided to adopt a Busker Protocol. If you like what you read, if you find it useful, and if you'd like us to continue publishing the newsletter, please feel free to chip in with any financial contribution. Our estimated annual cost for this newsletter is $30,000. So we suggest an annual contribution of $30 (which is less than one-third the subscription cost of Thiagi's earlier paper-based newsletter). We would appreciate any amount that you send us, but make sure it is less than $30,000 (since we don't want to make a profit). You can mail your check to Thiagi, 4423 East Trailridge Road, Bloomington, IN 47408 or call us at (812) 332-1478 to charge the amount to a credit card. Or you can charge your credit card online, through Workshops by Thiagi, Inc. Please let us know if you need an invoice for financial record keeping.
Thiagi believes in practicing what he preaches. This is an interactive newsletter, so interact already! Send us your feedback, sarcastic remarks, and gratuitous advice through email to firstname.lastname@example.org . Thanks!
Since New Year's Day, there has been a change in my professional life. However, it will not affect the publication of Play for Performance.
At the beginning of this year, my Bloomington (Indiana) based organization, Workshops by Thiagi, and a San Rafael (California) based organization, Qube Learning, have joined forces to create a new organization, QBInternational.
Actually, I have been collaborating with my partner, Andy Kimball, on several large-scale performance-improvement projects—many of them applying online interactive strategies—for the past five years.
I have assured Andy that I will continue to publish PFP in my spare time, Raja (who has also become a QBInternational employee) will continue to format it for the web, and the entire operation will be financially supported by reader contributions. Andy sometimes thinks that I am suffering from delusions but he and his California cohorts are whole-heartedly supporting this venture.
Thank you, Andy!
Framegames provide templates for instant creation of training games. These generic templates are deliberately designed to permit easy replacement of old content with new content. You can use framegames to rapidly develop training activities that suit your needs.
The best way to understand the concept of framegames is for you to participate in a game. Are you ready for a vicarious experience?
You are attending an orientation session designed to explore the values of your corporation. You feel that the session is going to be a waste of time because you have already studied the colorful poster that explains the five core corporate values: customer satisfaction, quality, teamwork, integrity, and employee empowerment.
At the beginning of the training session, your friendly facilitator Sue organizes you and other new employees into five teams of four people each. Each team gets an envelope and four index cards. Sue explains that a different core corporate value is written on the face of each envelope. Your team has 3 minutes to brainstorm a list of examples of how this value can be incorporated into everyday behaviors and decisions on the job.
Your team's envelope has integrity as the core value. After a hesitant start, you and your teammates write down ideas such as these:
At the end of the 3-minute period, your team has recorded 10 such ideas on both sides of the index card. Sue asks the teams to stop writing, place the index card inside the envelope, and pass the envelope, unsealed, to the next team.
During the next round, Sue wants you to repeat the same process of recording brainstormed examples for the value written on the face of the new envelope given to your team. You have to do this without looking at the card inside the envelope.
The value on the new envelope is employee satisfaction. Your team is now on a roll and you record several examples called out by your team members. You write these down on a card and put the new card in the envelope without looking at the card that is already there.
The game proceeds in the same fashion during two more rounds. You receive new envelopes with new core values. You generate and record examples of everyday behaviors that incorporate these values.
During the fifth round, you receive another envelope with the core value of teamwork. Before your team begins to generate examples of this value, Sue announces a change in the procedure. Instead of creating more examples, your team's task is to review the four cards inside the envelopes, compare the examples in those cards, and distribute 100 points among the four cards to reflect their relative merits. (For instance, you might give 25 points to each card if your team thinks they are all equally good, or 52 points to one card and 16 to each of the others if you think that card is better than all the others combined.)
After a suitable pause, Sue instructs each team to read the items from the cards in ascending order of points. You listen eagerly when the other teams read the cards to find out where your team's list is placed. After this activity, you collect the cards that your team created and add up the score points. Your total is 217, which is the second highest score!
Your experience with VALUES ENVELOPES does not actually demonstrate the framegame concept. To explore this concept, we have to analyze the VALUES ENVELOPES game. If you ignore the content (core corporate values) and focus on the flow of the game, you end up with the framegame, ENVELOPES. Here is the generic structure of this framegame:
As you have probably figured out, you can use the ENVELOPES framegame structure with different content areas. Here are some examples of how we have rapidly generated new games by using the framegame approach:
Training Objective: How to position a product to appeal to different market segments
Topics on Envelopes: Different market segments (examples: home office and small business)
Response Requirement: Write a list of product benefits to be emphasized.
Training Objective: To communicate through the use of graphics
Topics on Envelopes: Different types of merchandise (examples: books and software)
Response Requirement: Sketch a graphic that will clearly communicate what type of merchandise is located in different areas of the store.
Training Objective: To handle disruptive behaviors of participants at a meeting
Topics on Envelopes: Types of disruptive behaviors (examples: side conversations and personal attacks)
Response Requirement: Write a list of ideas for reducing or removing the negative impact of the disruptive behavior.
Training Objective: To prevent disruptive behaviors of participants at a meeting
Topics on Envelopes: Types of disruptive behaviors (examples: side conversations and personal attacks)
Response Requirement: Write a list guidelines for the facilitator to prevent this type of behavior from happening.
Training Objective: To identify the key concept and summarize it in the form of a memorable slogan
Topics on Envelopes: A rambling paragraph describing the vision of an organization
Response Requirement: Write a slogan that captures the key message.
Training Objective: To handle customer objections during a sales call
Topics on Envelopes: Typical customer objections (examples: price is too high and need committee approval)
Response Requirement: Write a suitable response to the objection.
Training Objective: To explore industry trends
Topics on Envelopes: Predictions (examples: market share will increase and competition will slash prices)
Response Requirement: Write a list of supporting arguments on one side of the card and a list of refuting arguments on the other side.
Training Objective: To use suitable strategies during each stage of change management
Topics on Envelopes: Stages of change management (examples: awareness and installation)
Response Requirement: Write a list of suitable techniques for use during the stage.
Training Objective: To identify behaviors associated with different management roles
Topics on Envelopes: Roles of a manager (examples: communicator and organizer)
Response Requirement: Write a list of behaviors associated with each role.
Training Objective: To communicate more effectively with different people
Topics on Envelopes: Personality types (introvert and linear)
Response Requirement: Write a list of guidelines on how to communicate with a person with this type of personality.
By now, you should have a good feel for the concept of a framegame, especially of ENVELOPES as a framegame. The best way to reinforce your mastery of the concept is to apply it to your own situation. Take a few minutes now to come up with two or three ways in which you can use the ENVELOPES framegame. What training objectives can you reach with this game? What topics should be written on the faces of the envelopes? How should your participants respond?
The most obvious benefit of a framegame is the speed with which you can design a “new” game. If you are a subject-matter expert, you can create an effective game to suit your training objectives in a matter of minutes. Because you are borrowing the frame from an effective field-tested game, you have a high probability of success. You can also explain the structure of a framegame to your participants and invite them to design their own versions. This will help participants gain an in-depth understanding of the topic.
Because the framegame approach is so easy to apply, you may be tempted to design inappropriate games for irrelevant purposes. Many participants can recount horror stories related to the play of innumerable versions of JEOPARDY and MONOPOLY in their training sessions. To avoid such abuse, it is important for you make sure that the framegame that you are using is suitable for the type of training content and the preferences of your participants.
Framegames can be categorized into different types. A useful way of categorizing framegames is to focus on their source of the content (or learning points).
Structured Sharing. In this type of framegame, the content is generated by participants themselves, based on their experience and logical thinking. VALUES ENVELOPES, the sample game that you vicariously played earlier, belongs to this category.
Read.me Games. In this type of framegame, the content is presented through a handout (or some other form of reading assignment). Participants read the content first and then use the framegame to review it. For an example of this type of framegame, read DYADS AND TRIADS in this issue of PFP.
Interactive Lectures. In this type of framegame, the content is presented through a lecture presentation. IDEA MAP is an example of an interactive lecture. In this activity, you begin by training participants how to take graphic notes using the idea-mapping technique. Then start your presentation, inviting participants to take notes using the idea-mapping technique. Stop the presentation from time to time and ask teams of participants to spend 5 minutes collaboratively drawing an idea map of the topics covered so far. Continue with your presentation and repeat the idea-mapping interludes. At the end of the presentation, invite the teams to display their final products and encourage participants to review other teams' products.
WebQuests. In this type of framegame created by Bernie Dodge, the content is found in different locations on the Internet. You ask participants to find the answers to a set of questions by surfing the 'Net. For more details about this type, visit the WebQuest Page ( http://webquest.sdsu.edu/webquest.html ) .
Assessment-Based Learning Activities. In this type of framegame, the learning points are incorporated in an assessment instrument. The Tool Kit article in the October issue of PFP provides a detailed discussion and several examples of this type.
Video Vitamins. In this type of framegame, the learning content is presented through a videotape. Participants view the videotape first and then play the game to reinforce their mastery of the content. In a video vitamin called RASHOMON (named after Akira Kurosawa's 1951 classic Japanese movie), you assign different key roles from the video's storyline to each participant. Ask participants to watch the video from the assigned point of view. After the video, assemble participants into same-role teams and have them reconstruct the story from that character's point of view. After a suitable pause, ask teams to present the different versions.
Debriefing Game. In this type of framegame, the learning content comes from an experiential activity conducted earlier. The ensuing game encourages participants to reflect on their experience and to gain appropriate insights. The Tool Kit article in the July 2001 issue of PFP provides a detailed explanation and several examples of this type. Roger Greenaway's interview in the September 2001 issue (and his excellent website, http://reviewing.co.uk/ ) provide additional practical information.
Here are some suggested action items:
If you have not done this already, take a few minutes to create your own version of the ENVELOPES game.
Previous issues of PFP contain examples of other framegames. Review them again with your new understanding of the framegame concept. See how many different versions of each framegame that you can create and use:
ERROR QUEST by Margaret Gredler (June 2001)
WHISPERS (July 2001)
THIRTY-FIVE (July 2001)
PASS IT ON! by Susan El-Shamy (October 2001)
RESPONSE CARDS (November 2001)
Ask yourself, “Where is the frame?” with every new game that you read about, conduct, or play. See if you can analyze other games and add them to your collection of framegames.
Read.me Games combine the effective organization of well-written documents with the motivational impact of interactive learning. In this type of activity, participants read a handout and play a game that uses competition to encourage recall and transfer of what they read. DYADS AND TRIADS is a flexible read.me game that can incorporate any of your training handouts.
Obviously, people learn from answering questions about the content of a training handout. Not too obviously (and more importantly), people also learn from asking questions about the content. In DYADS AND TRIADS, participants enhance their learning by both asking and answering questions. The types of questions they ask exercise both sides of their brain by requiring convergent and divergent thinking.
This activity consists of three parts: During the first part, participants independently study a training handout. During the second part, they write closed review questions and use the questions to play the DYADS game. During the third part, participants write open questions and play the TRIADS game.
To review the content of a training handout by responding to questions that require recall of facts and higher-level processing of information.
Any number. Best game involves 15 - 30 participants.
45 - 60 minutes, depending on the length and complexity of the handout.
Coordinate the study period. Distribute copies of the handout with the training content. Ask participants to study the handout, using any preferred strategy for reading and note taking. Announce a suitable time limit.
Explain how to write closed questions. At the end of the study period, assemble all participants and distribute copies of the handout, How To Write Closed Questions. Invite participants to yell out one or two examples of closed questions based on the training content.
Ask participants to write closed questions. Distribute several blank index cards to each participant. Ask participants to write closed questions based on the training content, using a separate card for each question. After a suitable pause, ask each participant to look at different questions that she wrote, select the “best” one, and place the other questions aside.
Explain how to play DYADS. Distribute copies of the handout, How To Play DYADS. Walk participants through the steps in playing the game.
Start the DYADS game. Ask each participant to make sure that she has a question card and a scorecard. Announce that the DYADS game will last for 7 minutes. Set the timer and start the game.
Stop the DYADS game. At the end of 7 minutes, blow the whistle and announce the conclusion of the game. Ask each participant to count the number of different initials on her scorecard to compute the score.
Identify winners. Find out which participant has the highest score. Congratulate the winner (or winners, if there is a tie for the highest score).
Explain how to write open questions. Move to the next phase of the activity by distributing copies of the handout, How To Write Open Questions. Invite a “volunteer” participant to help you create an example of an open question.
Ask participants to write open questions. Distribute additional blank index cards to participants. Ask each participant to write a single open question on a card.
Explain how to play TRIADS. When everyone has finished writing an open question, distribute copies of the handout, How To Play TRIADS. Walk participants through the flow of the game.
Start the TRIADS game. Ask each participant to make sure that she has a question card and a scorecard. Announce that the TRIADS game will last for 10 minutes. Set the timer and start the game.
Stop the TRIADS game. At the end of 10 minutes, blow the whistle and announce the conclusion of the game. Ask each participant to count the number of different initials in her scorecard.
Identify winners. Find out which participant has the highest score. Congratulate the winner (or winners, if more there is a tie for the highest score).
Closed questions have a single correct answer. Usually, you answer these questions by recalling some factual information.
The best way to construct a closed question is to start with one of the question words as shown in the following templates. To use any of these question templates, simply replace the words with a strikethrough line with words related to your content.
Check your supplies. Before you participate in the game, make sure you have a question card (an index card with a closed question) and a scorecard (a blank index card).
Organize dyads. When the game starts, quickly pair up with another player. Remember that if you are slow, you may be left out without a partner.
Show your question. Hold up your question card so the other person can read the question. Do not read the question yourself or give any hints for the answer. Pause for a few seconds.
Process the answer. Listen to the answer given by your partner. Decide whether it is correct or not. If it is incorrect, give the correct answer. If it is correct, say “Correct” and write your initials on the other player's scorecard.
Answer your partner's question. Read the question on your partner's question card. Immediately give the answer.
Get feedback. If your answer is incorrect, your partner will give you the correct answer. If your answer is correct, make sure that your partner writes her initials on your scorecard.
Find a new partner. Briskly move around and find a new partner. Don't waste your time with unnecessary conversation. Repeat the process of exchanging questions and answers and collecting the initials from other players.
Compute your score. When the facilitator announces the end of the play period, return your seat and count the number of different initials in your scorecard. This is your score for the DYADS game.
Open questions have more than one acceptable answer. However, most open questions permit you to compare alternative answers and decide which one is the “best”.
Here are some templates for writing open questions. To use any of these question templates, simply replace the words with a strikethrough line with words related to your content.
Check your supplies. Before you participate in the TRIADS game, make sure you have a question card (an index card with an open question) and a scorecard (a blank index card). Don't reuse your scorecard from the DYADS game.
Organize triads. When the game starts, wander around the room and quickly find two other players to form a group of three for the first round. Remember that if you are slow, you may not be able to form a triad.
Show your question. Hold up your question card so the other two players can read the question. Do not read the question yourself or give any hints for the answer.
Select the waiter. Point to one of the other two players and ask her to cover her ears. Also suggest that she moves away a little distance to avoid overhearing the other person's answer.
Listen to the first answer. Ask the other player to give her answer. Listen carefully to the answer.
Listen to the second answer. Signal to the waiter and ask her to uncover her ears. Ask her to answer the same open question. Let the other player also listen to the answer.
Process the answers. For the benefit of the waiter, give a brief summary of the first player's answer. Make a quick and objective decision about which of the two answers was better. Write your initials on the scorecard of the person who gave the better response.
Answer other players' questions. Each of the other two players will take turns to show the questions on their cards. During the next two rounds, you will be competing with another player to give a better answer to the open question.
Form new triads. Briskly move around the room to find two new players to form another triad for the next round. Don't waste your time with social chitchat. Repeat the process of exchanging open questions and answers and collecting the initials of other players by giving better answers.
Compute your score. When the facilitator announces the end of the play period, return your seat and count the number of initials in your scorecard. This is your score for the TRIADS game.
Q: How can people learn when they are having fun? Doesn't all learning require serious hard work?
A: Based on several years of exploration of laws of learning, this is what I know about the impact of fun and pain and other emotional states on learning:
People learn when their performance is associated with some emotional state—either positive or negative.
In other words, people learn when they are in pain—and when they are having fun. The only time people don't learn is when they are in a state of indifference. (Hey, let's hear it for apathy!)
Part of the debate about learning and fun is due to confusion about what exactly learning is all about. When a child gets burned, there is pain; she learns not to touch the stove. As a species, we humans are hard wired to learn from pain. Our ancestors figured out that the pain of being mauled by a saber-toothed tiger requires changes in behavior that include carrying a big club and avoiding contemplative walks through the forest. As homo ludens we also learn from fun things: Some ancestor accidentally burned a piece of wooly mammoth meat, found the results to be pleasantly tasty, and learned the principles of grilling.
Yes, people learn while having fun. Evidence? My mastery of skills in English as a second language comes primarily from reading comic books and Victorian pornography.
Unfortunately people do not value the learning that comes from fun and play. For example, adults do not value the sophisticated fluency and cognitive processing abilities that children demonstrate with Pokeman cards. Through a combination of sociological, political, and religious factors we have created the universal myth that there is no true learning without suffering. In a recent survey, I have collected proverbs from several different languages that strongly support this “no-pain-no-gain” philosophy. Therefore, children are advised to avoid frivolous fun activities and work hard at mastering sight reading and memorizing multiplication tables. Adults enter higher education and corporate training environments thoroughly brainwashed with this “learning-as-pain” philosophy.
Calling a learning activity a “game” elicits immediate resistance from managers—and from the learners themselves. I once did a sloppy study comparing participant's resistance to “games” versus “modified Delphi techniques”. The resistance toward the game was significantly higher than the resistance toward the modified Delphi technique—even though the description of the activity printed below these labels were exactly the same!
So now when I now play team tic-tac-toe, I call the activity “non-computerized group decision support system”. People are impressed and they begin looking for profound insights.
Another semantic problem related to learning as fun is caused by connotations of triviality and irrelevance. To most people, “deep fun” and “serious play” are oxymorons. Unfortunately many trainers like me contribute to this misconception. As my friend Deb Calderon recently pointed out, requiring participants to wear funny hats and make animal noises as an opening activity reinforces the belief that fun and learning are incompatible.
Here's some interesting evidence from another one of my sloppy studies about learner's need to be bored: Two randomized groups of undergraduate students learned some principles from economics during two 45-minute sessions. One group passively listened to lectures on the topic while the other group actively participated in a lemonade-stand game. Both groups were given the same test that contained some recall questions and some application questions. In addition, all participants were asked to indicate how confident they felt about the correctness of their answers, on a five-point scale. The results: The game group did better (although not significantly better) in answering recall questions and significantly better in answering application questions. However, the lecture group gave themselves a high average confidence rating of 3.6 while the game-group members gave themselves a modest rating of 2.4. Even though the game group had learned “more”, they were unsure of what they learned. This is the pedagogical version of the assumption that bitter medicine is more effective than the sweet stuff.
Based on this study (and my observations of adult learners around the world), I make it a point to bore my learners for at least a few minutes in every one of my training sessions to compensate for their misgivings related to the “if- it's-this-much-fun-I-can't-be-learning-anything” syndrome.
Incidentally, not all training games are fun. I use a lot of games in my training but I avoid describing them as “fun”. I prefer using the adjective “engaging”. This is partly due to the fact that some of the simulation games that I facilitate (in such areas as death and dying, terrorism, violence in the workplace, and downsizing) result in sadness and tears. However, they produce sustained effective learning and increased levels of self-awareness.
In training adults, the key requirement for learning is to ensure that the activity is emotionally engaging and relevant to some job-related performance.
My assistant editor Raja frequently complains about my undesirable habit of reviewing books for which I have contributed forewords.
I don't think the fact that I contributed a positive foreword should prevent me from writing a review of Digital Game-Based Learning by Marc Prensky. I feel that this is a timely book that most PFP readers will find useful. (Why else would I have written a foreword to the book?)
Marc Prensky's book is about the use of computer games and web games for training purposes. Marc knows what he is writing about since he has designed and developed several computer-based training games.
The first section of the book provides background to the digital game-based revolution. In one of the most useful chapters in the book, Marc explains how the characteristics of learners have changed in the recent past. You don't have to be a computer game designer to benefit from this chapter. Anyone who is teaching or training participants from the twitch-speed generation (people below 40 years of age) should understand the implications of these 10 critical characteristics of new learners:
According to Marc, while the characteristics of learners have changed significantly in the recent past, the nature of education and training has not. Fortunately, the arrival of digital-games provides a glimmer of hope about our ability to reach the new learners.
The second section of the book contains explain how games teach and why they work. The chapter on digital-game based learning for adults provides an excellent overview of computer games, simulations, the Internet, and games on hand-held devices.
The third section of the book contains examples and case studies about the use of digital games for training adults in the corporate environment and in the military.
In the final section of the book, Marc gives practical advice on how to implement digital-game based learning in your organization. The chapters in this section discuss how to change the role of trainers, how to present a business case to convince managers, how to evaluate training effectiveness of digital games, and how to transform your ideas into digital games.
If you want more details about this excellent book, visit the companion website, http://www.twitchspeed.com/ . You can check out the detailed table of contents, read the foreword, and review an excerpt on how learners have changed. This website also features different contests related to the content of the book.
Details. Digital Game-Based Learning by Marc Prensky. New York: McGraw-Hill. (ISBN: 0-07-136344-0). 442 pages. $29.95.
My name is Sivasailam Thiagarajan.
In case you are wondering exactly how the name is pronounced, let me help you with some phonetic spelling.
Click here to see my name spelled phonetically.
Here's a shared letters puzzle.
The puzzle consists of a message grid and several word grids. Each word grid is preceded by a clue, like a crossword-puzzle clue.
To solve the puzzle, figure out the appropriate word that goes with each clue. Write the word in the boxes of the word grid, one letter per box.
Note that there is a number below each letter in the word grid. Copy the letter to the box with the same number in the message grid.
Sometimes it may be easier to guess missing letters in the message grid. You can then copy the letter to a box in the word grids that has the same number.
Solve the puzzle by working back and forth between the word grids and the message grid.
When completed, you will discover a message associated with the title above.
This type of game uses asynchronous communication through the
Second level of testing for computer games and software.
A politically incorrect term for a team.
Last month we posted five twisted pairs puzzle from our readers.
If you want to want another opportunity to solve them, return to the puzzles (along with instructions and hints).
(Our apologies if you tried to solve Shirley's puzzle last month—there was a typo [now fixed] in the January issue.)
Here are the solutions:
Solution to Shirley Legaux's puzzle:
Self-discovery is the key to successful learning.
Solution to Mary Lynn Monge's puzzle:
The best way to learn anything is to discover it for yourself.
Solution to Dave Piltz's puzzles:
Effective customer service employs empathy as a technique.
Conflict management begins with looking at yourself first.
Solution to R. Narayanan's puzzle:
Don't just spray knowledge and then pray that it sticks.
Read.Me Games combine the effective organization of well-written documents with the motivational impact of interactive learning. In this type of activity, participants read a handout (or some other type of document) and play a game that uses interesting strategies to encourage recall and transfer of what they read. The featured activity in this issue, DYADS AND TRIADS, is an example of this type of game.
I have a problem. Raja does not like the label Read.Me Games. He thinks it is a stupid leftover from the ancient days of MS-DOS software. But he has not yet come up with a suitable alternative name for this type of game.
Here is the challenge for this month's contest: Create a better name than Read.Me Games. Come up with a name for the type of game that can be used to review and reinforce what participants learn from a reading assignment. Make sure that the name is meaningful and memorable. Send your name to enter this contest. If we judge your name to be the best, you will a $50 gift certificate.
Our December 2001 contest invited readers to share their insights from reading Fredric Brown's short-short story, “Sentry”. (If you haven't read this story, you may do so by clicking here.)
Here's the list of insights from Mark Morgan:
Here's another list from another part of the planet—from Alexei Gartinski, Eberle Consulting, Geneva, Switzerland:
Thank you, Mark and Alexei!
If the rules and mechanics of your training game are too complex, players will spend more time learning the game than learning from the game.
To make the game easy to learn, use few and simple rules. Base the training game on some popular game or TV game show.
Making the game difficult to master implies that the intellectual challenge related to winning the game should be at a high level. The problem to be solved by the players should be authentic, complex, and open.
Another implication of this guideline is that the game should be replayable without players losing their interest.
Still another implication is that the challenges in the game should progress along increasing levels of difficulty.