Nathan Reads: Gamestorming

Books Books Books

There are some great, helpful books on PhD topics (and vivas too, including my own short ebook on viva preparation, Fail Your Viva!) and about once a month I’ll post a review of a book which I’ve found really valuable, and which I think could be really valuable to PGRs in general.

The first up is “Gamestorming” by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown and James Macanufo. This is a book that I have found invaluable in the kind of work that I do, and I think that it is something which can really help people in lots of ways.

Using a Heuristic Ideation Technique, which I saw first in Gamestorming.
Using a Heuristic Ideation Technique, which I saw first in Gamestorming. Picture taken at a workshop on blogging I delivered several years ago.

Games + Brainstorming?

Sort of, but not quite. Gamestorming is filled with activities and exercises for helping groups of people address problems. There are ideas on how to generate ideas, hold meetings, explore sensitive topics, plan strategies, start collaborating, explore the needs of different parties in a group, get people talking… It packs a punch considering how many ideas there are in under 300 pages.

The games in Gamestorming are playful but purposeful: none of them are silly, and many of them have clear opportunities for adaptation. There’s even a section on fundamentals for running activites like these, which could be a real bonus if you’re not experienced at chairing or facilitating groups.

The book is really clear in the hows and whys of each of the games, and leads you through each game step by step. There are clear illustrations to show examples, and there are even suggestions for chaining games together for larger discussions or meetings. And if you’re still not interested, go and take a look at the supporting website which has many of the games from the book listed, including all of the step by step how-to for running a game. Seriously, go and have a look, I’ll wait!

Some of my favourites include:

  • Low Tech Social Network – great to start a meeting, getting to know everyone in the room.
  • Heuristic Ideation Technique – a neat little technique for generating ideas, especially in a group (and yes, that is my picture on the Gamestorming website! I wrote a blog post a few years ago on another blog, and one of Gamestorming‘s authors got in touch!)
  • Open Space – a powerful way to allow a group or community explore the elements of a situation or challenge that they think are important.
  • The 7Ps Framework – my go-to method for introducing a workshop, but I think it can be really effective in other settings too.

See anything you like? Any of the other games on the site stand out for you?

Sounds interesting…

…but why am I mentioning this in a blog that is mostly aimed at postgraduate researchers? Well, considering the aims of the games that I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, it seems almost perfect for PGRs! Generating ideas, meetings, collaborating – never mind the other areas, this alone makes it right up a PhD student’s street!

I think Gamestorming is a useful source of lots of great ideas for tackling problems: you have to DO something with Gamestorming. If you put it into practice you could get a lot from it, and you’ll learn something about working with people at the same time too.

I have a couple of ideas for reviews over the next few months, but if you know of a good book that would be good to share with PGRs then let me know. (it doesn’t have to be about the PhD necessarily)

Thanks for reading!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

My Low Tech Social Network profile!
My Low Tech Social Network profile!

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