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Rapid Instructional Design
Eight textra games in one package.

Guest Gamer
Interview with Stephanie Pollack
She's been there, done that!

Snowball by Stephanie Pollack
Throwing things at each other.

Domestic Violence by Dave Piltz
Interviews and Press Conference.

Event Alert
Three Workshops in Switzerland
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Brian's Words
Open for Business? by Brian Remer
Unintentional obstacles.

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Thiagi's thoughts on games and paradoxes.

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To increase and improve the use of interactive, experiential strategies to improve human performance in an effective, efficient, and enjoyable way.

Editorial Roster

Editor: Sivasailam (Thiagi) Thiagarajan

Assistant Editor: Raja Thiagarajan

Associate Editor: Jean Reese

Contributing Editors: Brian Remer and Les Lauber

Editorial Advisory Board: Bill Wake, Matthew Richter, Samuel van den Bergh, and <type your name here>

Copyright Info

The materials in this newsletter are copyright 2008 by The Thiagi Group. 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 THIAGI GAMELETTER. Copyright © 2008 by The Thiagi Group, Inc.

For any other use of the content, please contact us ( for permission.

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Rapid Instructional Design


A large amount of training content is available in printed form. Typically, instructional designers analyze these documents, remove the nice-to-know parts and reprocess the not-so-nice-to-know parts into lifeless PowerPoint® slides and handouts. Then they train a trainer to present the content in a rigid (“consistent”) fashion.

In our faster, cheaper, and better approach to training design, we use a different strategy. Instead of redoing the textual content we design a special type of learning activities (called textras) that force participants to interact with the content.

Here's a case study that illustrates several successful applications of this strategy.

Pharmaceutical Sales Conference

A pharmaceutical company hired us to design a sales conference that introduced eight new drugs. Usually, these conferences involve slick entertainment, wild parties, and a few death-by-PowerPoint presentations by experts. This year the corporation decided to outsource the training component to us while they focused on the fun parts.

We discovered a large amount of printed materials about each of the eight new drugs: colorful marketing brochures, clinical test summaries for physicians, pamphlets for patients, dosage instructions, and advertising copy. We decided to incorporate the packets of publications into eight different textra games.

The actual instructional design lasted for 15 hours. The overall goal was for the participants to hold conversations with physician and prescription buyers about the new drugs in an ethical, effective, and fluent manner. Our main design task consisted of collecting packets of materials about each drug, analyzing the content, and coming up with questions:

The printed materials and the questions were incorporated into eight different textra games that are described below.

The Metagame

But first, here are some additional details: We had a total of 247 participants who were all pharmaceutical salespeople. We divided them into eight groups of 30 or 31 people. Then we divided each of these groups into six teams of five or six members. Each group stayed in the same room during the 2-day kickoff meeting. Eight different facilitators rotated among these rooms. Each facilitator conducted a textra game that dealt with a specific drug.

Each game began on the hour and lasted for about 45 minutes (giving 15 minutes for the facilitators to move from one room to another and set up the game). A subject-matter expert accompanied each facilitator. This expert acted as a referee if there were content-related disputes. In some of the games, the experts evaluated teams' responses and awarded points. At the conclusion of each game, the experts spent some time providing “remedial instruction” to correct factual errors and misconceptions revealed during the play of the game.

The eight games were incorporated into a metagame: At the end of each round of games, the top two teams were identified in each of the eight rooms. The first team received five championship points and the second team, three. A large-screen display on the hallway showed the latest scores accumulated by each team. During the last event of the conference—the Awards Ceremony—members of the top scoring teams received valuable gift coupons. In the tradition of pharmaceutical sales groups, the total amount spent on the prizes was more than $7,000.

The games actually started about a month before the conference: Participants received packets of reading materials related to all eight drugs. An accompanying letter, written in a playful tone, mentioned the following facts: Sessions during the conference will feature quiz contests among teams. Winning teams will receive valuable prizes and losing teams will suffer mutual recrimination. Carefully study the reading materials to ensure that you will not let your team down. This is not pre-conference work; this is Real Work.

The Eight Textra Games

Here are descriptions of eight textra games that we used. They are written as condensed sets of instructions for facilitators:

Rapid Roleplay

At the beginning of the session, give each participant 14 poker chips. Explain that these chips will be used later in the activity for scoring purposes.

Ask participants to work in teams. Ask each team to come up with a name and write it on a plastic bowl.

During the first 10 minutes, ask each team to review the information about a specific drug and get ready to participate in a roleplay of a conversation with a prescription buyer.

After 10 minutes, randomly select a team and send it out of the room.

Invite a randomly selected member of another team to come to the front of the room.

Ask members of the four other teams in the room to watch the roleplay.

Conduct a 3-minute roleplay playing the role of the prescription buyer while the selected participant plays the role of a salesperson.

After this roleplay, bring the other team in from the outside and ask a randomly selected member of this team to participate in the roleplay. Play the same role and ask the same questions as before.

At the end of the second roleplay, ask each team member of the four observing teams to distribute seven poker chips between the two containers labeled with the names of two competing teams to reflect the comparative performances of the participants who played the role of the salesperson.

Repeat this process (one team is sent outside, a representative of another team participates in a roleplay, the team is brought inside, and a representative from this team participates in a similar roleplay) twice more so each team is involved in a roleplay.

After each pair of roleplays, ask members of the four observing teams to distribute seven poker chips between the containers of the two competing teams.

At the end of all roleplays, award team scores based on the chips in each container.

Fast Grab

You will have a list of 50 questions and answers about a specific drug.

Ask participants to work in their teams (of five or six members each), review the information about the drug, and get ready for a quiz contest.

Ask participants in each team to count off 1, 2, 3, and so on.

Assemble participants with the same number into contestant groups and assign each group to a different table. Ask the contestants to sit around the table without any printed materials or notes.

Place a soft toy (“reacter”) in the middle of each table and a bowl of poker chips at the side.

Explain that you will read a question and the first contestant to grab the reacter can answer the question. Read the first question. Ask the contestants who grabbed the reacters to immediately begin answering the question. Contestants need not shout out the answer, since only the others at the table need to hear it.

Pause for an appropriate time and read the correct answer. Ask the other contestants at each table to decide if the responder's answer is the same as (or sufficiently similar to) the answer you read. If the answer is correct, ask the responder to take a poker chip from the bowl. If the answer is not correct, ask the responder to return a poker chip to the bowl.

Continue the quiz, reading one question at a time.

After 10 minutes, announce the end of the first round. Ask participants to take the poker chips they earned and return to their original team tables. Let participants prepare for the next round of the contest.

Repeat the process.

At the end of the session, award scores to each team based on the number of poker chips its members won.

Team Bingo

You have a list of 25 short-answer questions (with the correct answers).

Distribute a bingo card to each team. This card has the numbers 1 to 25 randomly arranged in a 5x5 grid.

During the first 10 minutes, ask each team to review the booklets, brochures, and fact sheets related to a specific drug.

Ask the first question. Pause for a minute while the teams discuss the question (without consulting any reference material), write the correct answer on a piece of paper (along with the name of the team), and hand it to the subject-matter expert.

Read the correct answer.

Ask the subject-matter expert to identify the teams that gave the correct answer. Also, ask the expert to correct misconceptions revealed in the incorrect answers.

Randomly select a number between 1-25 (both numbers inclusive). Ask teams with the correct answer to mark the square with this number on their bingo cards.

Repeat the process: Read a question, ask teams to hand in their answers to the expert, read the answer, select a random number, and ask teams that gave the correct answer to mark the appropriate square.

After 12 questions, pause for intermission. Ask teams to prepare for the second round of the game.

After about 10 minutes, continue the process.

At the end of the session, award team scores that equal the total number of squares marked in the bingo card, plus one bonus point for each row, column, or diagonal that has all five squares marked.


Ask each team to spend 10 minutes to review the content about a specific drug. Ask the teams to spend another 5 minutes to prepare a set of five difficult questions related to this content.

Ask the first team to read one of its questions. Ask the members of the five other teams to write the answer (without using any reference materials).

Ask each team to read its answer. Ask the first team to decide which teams earned a point by giving an acceptable answer.

Repeat the process, rotating among the six teams.

At the end of the session, use the total number of points earned by each team to identify the top two teams.

Ask the expert to comment on the questions and the answers.

Best Answers

Prepare a set of five open-ended questions related to a specific drug. (Example: What will be the most worrisome concern of physicians about this drug? Why do you think so?)

Ask each team to spend 15 minutes reviewing the information about a specific drug.

Give each member of each team a card with a number (1, 2, 3, …). Assign participants with the same numbers from different teams to assemble at a table.

Read the first open-ended question.

Within 2 minutes, ask each participant to independently write the answer to the question on a piece of paper. Also ask participants to write a secret ID number on their piece of paper.

Collect all answers from each table and give it to the next table. (Give the answers from the last table to the first table.)

Ask participants at each table to compare the answers and jointly select the two best answers.

Ask teams to read the best answers. Identify the authors of these answers and award them five points each.

Ask participants to return to their tables and review the content in preparation for the next round. At the same time, collect the best answers and give them to the subject-matter expert. Ask the expert to select the best of the best.

Ask the expert to announce the best-of-the-best answer. Award five bonus points to the author of this answer.

Ask members of each team to switch their cards with the numbers. Reassemble the participants at different tables.

Continue the process with another open-ended question. Repeat the process for a total of five questions.

At the end of the session, ask the member of each team to add up the points earned by its members. Use the totals to identify the top two teams.

Question Cards

Give 15 minutes to each team to review the content related to a specific drug and to write 20 (or more) questions on index cards (with the answers on the other side).

Ask members of each team to count 1, 2, 3, and so on. Ask groups of participants with the same numbers to sit around different tables.

Shuffle the question cards and place the packet with the question sides on top.

At each table, ask the first player to read the question on the top card and give the answer. Ask players to turn the card over to check the answer.

If the player's answer is correct, she keeps the card to indicate a point. If incorrect, the card is placed aside.

Repeat the process with players taking turns to read the question on the top card and giving the answer.

At the end of the session, players take the cards (which they collected for giving the correct answers) and return to their original teams. The total number of cards at each team becomes the team score. Use this information to identify the top two teams.

Third Degree

Give 15 minutes for the teams to review the content on a specific drug and get ready for a quiz.

Randomly select a member of the first team and ask this “victim” to come to the front of the room without any reference materials.

Assemble a panel of five interrogators, one from each team. Ask the panel members to come to the front of the room with their reference materials.

Ask panel members to make up questions by using their booklets and other references. Ask them to keep firing the questions at the victim. Ask the victim to give a brief answer to each question.

Continue this rapid-fire questioning for 2 minutes.

Ask the expert to listen to the questions and answers and rate the victim's performance on a 10-point scale (where 1 is poor and 10 is brilliant).

Repeat the process with new victims from the other teams. Change the panel of interrogators during each 2-minute round.

After the sixth round of question-and-answer session, ask the expert to announce the score for each team. Also invite the expert to correct any misconceptions revealed in the answers (and the questions).

All Play

This session incorporates a computer game generated by a game show software program sold by LearningWare ( The game show involves a 25 multiple-choice questions related to a specific drug. The questions and the teams' scoreboards are projected on a large screen.

Ask each team to spend 15 minutes reviewing the content and getting ready for a quiz game.

Give a wireless remote to each team. Show team members how to use the remote to select among alternative answers to each multiple-choice question.

Display the first question. Ask the team that pressed its remote button first to answer the question. Display the correct answer. Display the score for each team.

Repeat the process with each multiple-choice question.

After 12 questions, announce an intermission. Ask teams to spend 5 minutes reviewing the content in preparation for the second round of the quiz game.

Repeat the same process with the remaining questions.

At the end of the session, announce the final scores for each team. Identify the top two teams.

Want More?

If you are convinced that textra games could help you design faster, cheaper, and better training, you may want to check out brief descriptions of 30 different textra games on our web site at .

Guest Gamer

Stephanie Pollack is an interculturally and artistically focused experiential educator and trainer. For 15 years she has developed and led innovative training sessions, teambuilding sessions, and educational programs around the globe for corporations, not-for-profits, universities, and museums. Stephanie consults with, and facilitates for, organizations through her business, Creative Facilitations. A happy nomad, she has traveled extensively in six continents and has lived in Australia, Thailand, and Nepal in addition to seven U.S. states and Native American land.

Interview with Stephanie Pollack

TGL: Stephanie, what would you say is your specialty area?

Stephanie: I specialize in using interactive, experiential games that involve the arts—theatre (especially Theatre of the Oppressed), visual art, and writing. I inspire connections with people to each other, ideas, and themselves through an attitude of positivity filled with possibility; engaging with people and the world in this enthusiastic way is contagious.

TGL: You mentioned “Theatre of the Oppressed”. What's that?

Stephanie: Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) is an arsenal of theatre exercises for non-theatre-people that supports the mutual exploration of a topic in an experiential, interactive, teambuilding, non-threatening way. Augusto Boal created TO in the early 1970s based on Paolo Friere's Pedagogy of the Oppressed which explores libratory education. I was first introduced to TO techniques in 1997, and as an intercultural experiential educator and trainer with a theatre background, I've been admittedly smitten ever since. While TO was originally conceived specifically to explore issues of oppression by having the oppressed people come up with their own solutions, I've had great success using the techniques in both training and education settings covering a variety of subjects. Boal has too. In addition to the original processes and activities of Forum Theatre (with words), Image Theatre (without words), and Invisible Theatre (imagine Punked or Borat with a purely social education mission), he has also created Legislative Theatre for use in politics and The Rainbow of Desire for use in therapy.

TGL: How did you get into, and for how long have you been, using and designing games?

Stephanie: Summer camp. I was one of those kids who lived for the playful 24/7 experience. Being with people in their sleepy states, just before bed and first thing in the morning, somehow makes us all more human; it allows people to relax and play with each other more and better (this is why I love retreats, extended overnight programs, and conferences so much). I've been altering other people's games since the late 80s and started designing my own games in '94 when I became a trip leader for Interlocken Center for Experiential Learning. I entered a whole new, wonderful world and was surrounded by amazing mentors, all energetic, generous, quirky, down-to-earth, spontaneous, creative, and caring educators. That first summer, at the age of 24, I was introduced to the true magic of games in experiential learning. I remember one leader had a huge file box (this was pre- personal computers) absolutely filled with games for all occasions and subjects, and another leader who facilitated our staff of 75 during orientation with such inspiration, positive energy, and grace that I decided “I want to be like them.” Ever since I've spent my time honing my facilitation skills and gaining wisdom on every aspect of using games for learning.

TGL: Where do you use games?

Stephanie: Anywhere and everywhere. I've played games in corporations and non-profits, museums and universities, camps and schools, and conferences and seminars. Geographically, I've facilitated games on four continents in places like outdoor markets, in parks, on busses and ships and planes and trains, in the ocean, on lakes in kayaks, in restaurants, at festivals, in airports, and most boringly but inevitably in countless classrooms, boardrooms, and official meeting spaces.

TGL: Where are some of the wackiest places you've used games, who were the participants, and what were the circumstances?

Stephanie: On an overnight train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, Thailand with a group of volunteers (from Global Routes); we laid in our berths in the sleeping car and played numerous talky get-to-know-you games. We also played Build a Story on a flight to Laos, writing on airsick bags passing them around the plane.

On the rez in the Navajo Nation with youth in a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school; in their pajamas, the youth created and performed skits (using Forum Theatre techniques) about domestic abuse and alcoholism in their families, and helped each other figure out what to do to support themselves when at home during fall break.

On the strip in Vegas with a corporate group doing a scavenger hunt (for Critical Pathfinders); on the street creating Human Sculptures of animals next to a rehearsal of beautifully bodied early-20-somethings who were gyrating, dancing and climbing all over a fake full-sized pirate ship—the participants actually paid attention and made great sculptures.

In Morocco in a hallway on a college campus with high-status representatives from universities on six continents while developing the curriculum for an intercultural study program (The Scholar Ship); five minutes after meeting one another, participants were happily laughing and throwing things at each other. We developed an incredibly complex curriculum ahead of schedule.

At a retreat center in rural New Mexico at night in a teepee with adolescent girls (with The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum's Art and Leadership Program for Girls); by flashlight, we played Senses Awareness where we tuned into our five senses, drawing and writing about them.

With 30 male union members (at the National Labor College) who were trainers of their construction workers in an Instructional Methods course; on the final day when I told them we were going to do a closing activity named Backwriter where we wrote appreciative comments to one another anonymously on each other's backs, they said I was too trusting and too female. Everyone laughed, and then they were all incredibly into the activity 2 minutes later.

On the streets of tiny rural Hillsboro, New Hampshire; teenage participants (with Interlocken Center for Experiential Learning, now called Windsor Mountain International) interviewed passersby about their lives as teenagers and later presented skits of interviewees' stories that informed the development of our issue-oriented theatrical program which we then performed all over New England.

TGL: What is the most embarrassing moment you had in conducting games?

Stephanie: Early in my career, before I had my toolbox of games in my back pocket at all times (figuratively, of course, since an actual toolkit in a back pocket would be painful to sit on), I was asked on the spot in front of 75 people by a respected Director (of the Friends World Program of Long Island University, now known as Global College) to lead everyone in a game. She needed to kill 10 minutes so she publicly handed everyone over to me. My inexperience busted out with the Hokey Pokey. It doesn't get any worse than that.

TGL: Do you prefer to facilitate or to design games?

Stephanie: I like and need both equally; when I'm doing too much of one, I long for the other. I think a good designer needs to understand how to facilitate well. It's the age-old balancing act of theory and practice; the creator of the theory needs to understand how the theory will work in practice, while the practitioner needs to understand the theory in order to practice it properly. I battled about this for months in a tiny apartment in Kathmandu with a strict academic; I, then the adamant practitioner, became much more theory oriented (and visa versa). To demonstrate this balance, after being engrossed in academia for a while I've recently been having fun designing and facilitating events for other organizations that focus on corporate teambuilding.

TGL: What advice do you have to newcomers?

Stephanie: If you are designing games, play games with different types of groups so you know whether or not a game you design will work for the group purpose you desire. Play a lot. Keep playing. Then play some more. Once you're comfortable facilitating and are with safe groups (low stakes and low risk), start morphing games you're already comfortable with to see what happens. Make notes of what worked and what didn't for future reference. Then get creative.

If you are using games, the timing and ordering of games is just as important as choosing which game to use. Use games to create your group environment—openers and closers. Know your audience. Consider yourself a facilitator rather than a teacher: You are there to help participants with their process, so support them, and then get out of the way; you have as much to learn from them as they do from you. Play and practice as much as you can in as many different situations as you can. Show your enthusiasm and passion for using games; it'll be contagious.

Getting acceptance for the use of games is a tricky one that I've struggled with a lot. I've decided that if a client doesn't already accept games or want them to be used then I'm the wrong facilitator for them.

TGL: What do you think are the most important characteristics of a facilitator, an effective instructional game, and a receptive participant?

Stephanie: A facilitator has acute awareness (of individual participants, the group energy, and the physical environment), timing, flexibility, a positive attitude, a big bag o' tricks that can be tapped into at any time, a sense of humor especially toward herself, time management skills, ability to read body language, an understanding of how to order games, be comfortable with ambiguity, be a risk taker, be aware of and sensitive to how culture plays a role in everything, asking the right questions for a thorough debrief, and truly facilitates the participants' process.

An effective instructional game takes multiple learning styles and intelligences into account, challenges the optimal amount, is highly engaging, and provides substantive content for a quality debrief.

A receptive participant demonstrates awareness, flexibility, an open mind, and a group oriented perspective.

TGL: What are some of the things you dislike?

Stephanie: A facilitator who skips or rushes through the debrief, doesn't listen to or respect participants, is unaware of (insert whatever they should be aware of here), runs over time, doesn't take Maslow's Hierarchy into consideration, is ego-centric, or is culturally insensitive.

An instructional game that uses gobs of physical materials for no purpose (other than to populate landfills).

A participant who is not trying on the process.

TGL: Who are your favorite game designers?

Stephanie: Thiagi and Augusto Boal. Anyone who can make brilliant changes on the fly, and that could be you, reader of this interview.

TGL: Do you have any book recommendations?

Stephanie: Here they are:

Games for Actors and Non-Actors by Augusto Boal.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman.

The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander.

TGL: What is your prediction about the future of games?

Stephanie: Members of the Millennial Generation currently entering the workforce grew up surrounded with technology and expect interactivity in all things in life. They can multitask better than anyone, need challenge to stay engaged, are self-focused, and are used to constant entertainment and communication at their fingertips from numerous sources. I believe everything will need to become game-like in order to keep their attention; this includes work life and personal life, technology-wise and other-wise. They may also need extra care in the individualistic vs. collectivistic orientation arena, so teambuilding and communication skills training will be huge—all using games, of course.

Stephanie's contact information:

You may not want to telephone Stephanie since she will be in Bangkok, Thailand, as one of 24 people worldwide chosen to participate in Rotary International Foundation's Peace and Conflict Studies Program at Chulalongkorn University (from the end of January 2008 to the middle of April 2008). The best way to contact her is via email: .


by Stephanie Pollack


Teambuilding, sharing on a subject of your choice, renewing a sense of play.


8 to 50


20 - 40 minutes



Before the beginning of the game, prepare five questions related to a common topic. Here are some examples:



Transitions (job relocation, promotion, study abroad):


Ask participants to turn their papers landscape (sideways, to get participants looking at things a little differently immediately), not put their names on their papers, and legibly write answers to five different questions in each of the four corners and in the middle of the paper.

Read each of the prepared questions and specify the location for writing the answer (example: On the top right corner, write the answer to this question: What do you most want to learn from this phase of your life?)

Once all of the questions have been asked and the answers written down, ask participants to leave everything in their areas but the paper, and join you in the open space in the room.

Instruct the participants to crumple up their papers, and tell them that the name of the activity is Snowball because they are about to have a snowball fight!

Conduct the snowball fight for a suitable length of time. Once you stop the fight, ask the players to pick up a snowball (making sure that they do not end up with their own paper).

Ask participants to review the answers on their paper, and begin looking for the author of the answers (by actually asking the questions rather than holding up the paper and saying “Is this yours?”).

When the reader finds the author they should link arms with the reader on the left and the author on the right. Eventually all arms will be linked in a circle (or a few circles or pairs).

Ask participants to introduce their new snowball buddy to the group. The person introducing should say the author's name and then read through their list of answers to each questions. The introduction circle continues until all have been formally introduced.

Facilitation Tips

Do not give away the name of the game until after the participants have already crumpled their papers and are ready to throw or the surprise will be spoiled!

Give participants the choice to either link arms or keep the person whose paper they have on their left. When given the choice, participants almost always link. I usually informally blow off the instructions “You can link arms if you're comfortable, or just keep the person to your left, whatever you want.” After much experience, this delivery works the best.

Order the questions to begin and end with positive ones. Make the final question the most risky.


Get the questions from the participants by asking them for a list of questions they want to know about each other, then pick five and use those to play the game.

Why This Is Stephanie's Favorite Game

This activity hits all VAK learning styles: visual — the placement of the answers on the page, auditory — hearing instructions and introductions, kinesthetic — throwing the snowballs and physically linking up with others.

This activity permits individuals to adjust the risk level:

This activity can be about any topic and be played at any time during the group's life.

This activity can be easily altered for whatever time you have by changing the number of answers participants verbally share at the end. Not much time? Ask participants to share one answer (of your choosing or theirs). Lots of time? Share them all!

This is a great activity to get people up and moving around in a playful way while still learning about each other.

It is a particularly fun activity for participants who have never seen snow.


Domestic Violence
by Dave Piltz

© 2007 by Dave Piltz

This activity involves a different type of roleplaying to explore aspects of domestic violence. Originally designed to help adult volunteers at a local Domestic Violence Center, the frame of the activity can be used for dealing with other sensitive topics such as sexual assault, mobbing, hazing, and harassment.

Basic Structure

Participants work in teams to create notes from a fictional interview with an abuser and the abused in a domestic violence situation. Later, using these notes as the basis, participants play the role of the abuser and the abused during a press conference.


Minimum: 6
Best: 24


20 - 30 minutes for the activity

20 - 30 minutes for debriefing


Interview Handout: Gerry

Interview Handout: Pat

Press Conference Questions


Distribute interview handouts. Give one handout to each participant, making sure that equal numbers of the two handouts are used. Explain that the handouts are used for recording notes taken during interviews with an abuser (Gerry) and the abused (Pat) in a domestic violence situation. Point out that the handouts contain sample responses.

Form triads. Ask participants to organize themselves into teams of three, with all members having the same interview handout. If one or more participants are left over, add them as the fourth member of appropriate triads.

Explain the task. Ask each triad to write down notes from an imaginary interview with the abuser or the abused. Encourage participants to participants to review the sample responses and to come up with more fictional (but plausible) responses related to the family life experiences, values, and perspectives of the person being interviewed. Announce a 3-minute time limit for completing this task.

Reorganize participants into teams. At the end of 3 minutes, ask participants to form new teams, two teams with Gerry interviews and two with Pat interviews. Each team should have representatives from different triads that completed the interviews earlier. Ask participants to recall the notes from the interview, get in the role of Gerry or Pat, and get ready for a press conference.

Begin the press conference. Read the first question for Gerry from the Press Conference handout. Ask the two Gerry groups to recall the information from the earlier interview and agree on a suitable answer within 45 seconds. Select a random member of a Gerry group and have her give the answer (playing the role of Gerry).

Continue the press conference. Repeat the same procedure by asking other questions of Gerry, giving group members time to agree on an answer, selecting a random member, and listening to the answer. Continue by asking questions for Pat from the handout.

Conduct a debriefing discussion. At the end of the press conference, ask the following types of questions to encourage participants to reflect on their experience, gain insights about domestic violence, and share them with each other.


If time allows, have the group switch roles by asking Pat groups to become Gerry groups and vice versa. Distribute the interview handouts again and repeat the process.


Interview Handout: Gerry

During my childhood I witnessed the following between my parents: (Sample response: A lot of arguing and yelling and lots of hugs and kindness.)

During school I learned this about relationships: (Sample response: It's better to be in a relationship than not be in one. It's okay to not talk much as long as we both enjoy the other's company.)

I chose to get my first kiss when I was _____________ and I could only think of how it made me feel and how much I wanted to kiss more. This is my philosophy of sex: (Sample response: I first kissed someone at 13 and had sex at 15. It felt too good to wait.)

This is how my first true love really broke my heart: (Sample response: My partner cheated on me before breaking up with me.)

This value says I need to support the family and since I do that it's all right to expect the house to be clean and dinner to be ready each night by 7 pm. (Sample response: Work hard and make lots of money.)

This is my favorite movie which taught me how to have a long term relationship: (Sample response: Dirty Dancing.)


Interview Handout: Pat

This is the reason I feel I don't deserve real love and respect: (Sample response: I'm not that good looking and my father doesn't like my mom.)

It is hard for me to trust others is because this happened when I was in high school: (Sample response: I was raped by my friend.)

This is what I remember my grandmother telling me about relationships: (Sample response: You need to satisfy your partner all the time regardless how you feel.)

This is what family means this to me: (Sample response: Finding my other half / soul mate.)

The first time I was intimate I felt confused and ashamed even though I thought I loved the person. This is how this relationship ended: (Sample response: I found out the person told everyone I was a slut.)

This is what my ideal relationship looks like: (Sample response: Getting through the hard times.)


Press Conference Questions

For Gerry

Why do you feel it is okay to abuse others?

What was your childhood like? Can you describe the abuse that you experienced?

What does the media teach you about being an abuser?

Who were your childhood heroes? Who are your adult heroes?

What does your religion say about relationships and respect for the other person in relationships?

How does isolation help you in your relationships?

Describe the reasons you blame your partner for relationship issues.

Describe what fairness means to you in relationships.

For Pat

Why do you feel it is okay to be abused?

What was your childhood like? Can you describe the episodes of abuse that you witnessed?

What does the media teach you about being abused?

Who were your childhood heroes? Who are your adult heroes?

What values do you hold about your relationships?

How does intimidation help you know your partner loves you?

Describe the times you minimize your partner's behaviors.

Why do you trust your partner so unconditionally?

Event Alert

Three Workshops in Switzerland

The Thiagi Group is happy to announce three workshops in Switzerland during the summer of 2008. You can now register online for these workshops.

Workshop 1: Three days, June 30 - July 2, 2008
Interactive Training Strategies: How To Design and Use Games, Activities, and Simulations for Training Adults

Workshop Description

Register online

Workshop 2: One day, July 3, 2008
Thiagi's Training Clinic (with Matthew Richter and Samuel van den Bergh)

Workshop Description

Register online

Workshop 3: One day, July 4, 2008
Motivating Your Employees (presented by Matthew Richter with assistance from Thiagi)

Workshop Description

Register online

Brian's Words

Brian Remer is Creative Learning Director at The Firefly Group ( ). In addition to writing 99 powerful words every month for this column, Brian invents games and interactive strategies to expand learning and deepen insights.

Open for Business?
by Brian Remer

Open for Business?

Savoring early morning coffee and the ocean view from my booth in Breakers Restaurant at the Ashworth Hotel, I was startled by a loud tapping on the front door. Someone wanted to get in for breakfast. Looking around the deserted restaurant, I called for the cook to open the door.

Here it was thirty minutes after “opening” and the front door was still locked. You'd think someone would have checked—especially since they'd had to unlock the side door from the hotel for me earlier!

Oh, the things we do that unintentionally thwart our own progress!

Check It Out

Thiagi on YouTube™ ( )

Have you been to YouTube today?

If you go to and type “thiagi” in the search box, you might find this video.

Quick Poll

Select a Conference Theme

Here’s an announcement from the North American Simulation and Gaming Association (NASAGA):

NASAGA’s 2008 annual conference will be held in Indianapolis. The dates are not yet finalized, but they are likely to be around October 15-18, 2008.

The conference will carry on the tradition of interactive sessions with open access to the presenters and participants. It will also continue to blend traditional facilitated face-to-face learning activities with high-tech online activities. We will explore the intersection of alternative approaches that create innovative combinations.

NASAGA's Executive Committee and the Conference Planning Committee have come up with various ways of communicating the conference theme. We need your input. We have created a poll listing different themes (or slogans or taglines or whatever you want to call them). Please review this list and select the one that you like the best. After making your choice, you can comment on your choice. If you don’t like any of the choices, come up with your own suggestion.

Please spend 30 seconds right now to participate in the poll .