Quivk thought: games, learning and why it’s valuable

I really enjoyed reading this post earlier today by Anna Tarrant. I’ve been interested in games and how they connect with the kind of work I do for a while now. The more I use them and see examples of good practice in others, the more I am convinced that games are one of the most essential parts of a skills trainer’s toolkit. I think this is even more pronounced when they are trying to achieve things through experiential learning.

Games let people play. A friend and colleague of mine once described play, and practice through play, as building up talent to burn (I think that he had come across this expression elsewhere). I like this concept. I studied an OU module on games last year; the first section on the course was establishing what a game is. One of the key components identified was that a game has “negotiable consequences” – one person plays football in a sports centre for fun once a week, one person plays football and earns £100,000 a week. Both people are playing the game, just with different consequences.

Negotiable consequences also means, I think, that people take different things from the outcomes of games – even if they experience the same outcomes. Perhaps even if they achieve the same outcomes from the same methods. In simulation or innovation games, participants might take the same approaches but be coming from a different context – two leaders might lead well, but one is an experienced leader while the other is trying it out for the first time. Both will have different learning, and by reflecting on that and sharing it all participants with that group or cohort can benefit.

Let’s not forget something really important as well: games are (hopefully) fun!