During our time together in our Seed Project, we created an immmersive game where the processes and patterns of our social interactions are made visible and translated into game boards and game pieces. This lets us more easily adapt group processes and modes toward ones that fit the needs of the moment to do whatever a group needs to do together.
During our Open House we demonstrated this process by engaging the community in playing to explore answers to the real-life question for the Labs, "How can we source and organize food for our next session?"
Game Shifting makes invisible social architectures visible to all members of a group so we can shift anything impeding the creative energy of the group.
The Game Board:
- Wall Boards show the structures and agreements the group is currently using to shape social interactions and group process.
- Floor Markers show special arenas of play with meaning or significance which changes based on where you stand.
The Game Pieces:
- Your Body placement in the room according to floor markers
- Personal Tablets have signals to indicate information to others. How is the pace of the conversation? Need it faster (green) or slower (red)?
The Game Plays:
- Action Cards can be played to interrupt the flow and change things up in the group process.
- Hand Signals can be used without interrupting the flow to bring attention to certain group dynamics
- Spoken Contributions are the parts of the flow that you're inserting into the conversation just like in normal conversations. :)
In order to keep discussions productive and efficient, we employ hand-signals that serve as visual communication. When we speak one-on-one with each other, we rely on non-verbal communication cues that don’t always translate well to a group setting. Hand signals supply the group with instant feedback without interrupting a speaker. Hand signals make non-verbal communication explicit and deliberate by replacing subtle cues with intentional, well-defined ones.
“Delta /Change-up” - a call to attention that the group process may need to be GameShifted or that the current process agreements are not being honored. A person can give this hand signal so others can have a chance to wrap up what they’re saying before they say what change-up they see is needed.
Sometimes the sign is enough to shift people’s awareness and behavior back on the intended track.
“Twinkle fingers / This friend speaks my mind” - this signal is done with wiggling fingers and demonstrates strong resonance with what is being spoken.
“Got ya / You have been heard” - This signal is held over the heart and means that the listener has understood the speaker’s point. It includes a gentle nudge that the speaker may move on and release it to the group. It is often helpful when the speaker is repeating a point in different words. If they know they are understood, they know they can move on. For example, this explanation may have warranted a “got ya” sign a sentence or two ago. The explanation continues in order to be sure the point is driven home, but if someone was here to utilize the “got ya” sign, it would have saved us all some valuable reading time.
The Trajectory Board:
This board represents where we are in a given session; how it's unfolding. The symbols represent phases; e.g. for an expansive opening conversation where we are trying to generate new ideas and get to new places, we use the left-pointing triangle. For times when we are processing or refining ideas that we may have arrived at, we use the square. Then for phases that are about convergence, i.e. decision making, we use the right-pointing triangle.
This allows us to visualize and think through the overall trajectory of a session, while allowing everyone to see where we are. It's kind of like an agenda, but instead of a topic agenda, it's more like a quality agenda; i.e. what quality of engagement we are taking on and how people are able to participate.
The Time Management Board:
All social processes address the question of time. Managing time, people's "access to the floor," beginnings and endings, simultenaity, synchronous vs. asynchronous, etc are all crucial aspects of succesful social interaction. This game board makes visible agreements of how time will be handled. For brainstorming and small meetings, the agreement of "jump-in" lets ideas flow. For slow consideration of deep issues and making sure that all are heard, the talking stick may be a good choice.
The Coherence Board:
There is a kind of magic that exists in any complex system that keeps the complexity from dissipating. We've been calling that magic, "coherence" and in the case of social processes have identified three aspects of it: the Context, the Container, and the Content.
Content is what the gameshifting session is about. Context is about the mode or intention of the session. Container is the overall structure currently in play. By moving markers on the coherence board participants can see and/or choose explicitly:
- how content is determined (e.g. was a topic set for the content, or will the content be emergent from the process),
- what the context is (e.g. is the intention for the session decision making, learning, co-creation, etc.)
- and perhaps most importantly, specify the rules and actions, as well as the physical layout which make up the container in which the sessions is taking place.
Individuals contribute to social processes in many ways. We are most used to spoken contribution, but for successfull social processes, it's crucial to become agile in our capacities to be aware of other levels of being of individuals as they participate. For example, how does the group adjust its pace when things are going too fast or too slow for the participants? How does the group become aware that there is too much noise in the environment and not enough signal? We've added player boards that allow individuals to give this kind of feedback non-verbally.
For example, a spectrum with a triangular arrow indicates individuals feelings about the current pacing: red indicates "slow down!", green signals "speed up!". A bar with a dot allows individuals to set it up as an "!" (exclamation point) to indicate that there is too much distraction or noise in the space, or by moving the dot to the top, turn it into an "i" (for information) to mark that they are experiencing plenty of signal. This form of non-verbal cues allow the group to self-adjust because it can see the emerging whole.
Sample Player Cards:
Other Gameshifting Boards
Gameshifting boards have been, and probably should be adapted for different uses, in different groups, and different settings. It is best to use terms and ideas about group dynamics that people are familiar with so that the board doesn't seem to foreign or overwhelming.
Feel free to make your own adaptations. Here are some of the variants that we know of.
Gameshifting Simplified for Kids
The green squiggly box (which says New Rules in it) is the size of an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper so that you can stick new collections structures in there easily for different types of meetings. This version is a bit easier to play because you can see and manage all the group dynamics on one board.
Gameshifting - ELL Fall 2013
Gameshifting at ALF Summer 2014
Quaker Community GameShifiting
Various Agile Learning Center Boards
More license and intellectual property information available here.