Gameshifting Overview

GameShifting Overview

view (naked) not supported for css clear h2view (naked) not supported for css float img rightDuring 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?"


Gameshifting Instructions

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. :)

GameShift Hand Signals

Hand Signals

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.


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“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.

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“Twinkle fingers / This friend speaks my mind” - this signal is done with wiggling fingers and demonstrates strong resonance with what is being spoken.

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“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:

Gameshifting Board: Trajectory

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:

Gameshifting Board: Time Management

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:

Gameshifting Board: Coherence

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:

  1. how content is determined (e.g. was a topic set for the content, or will the content be emergent from the process),  
  2. what the context is (e.g. is the intention for the session decision making, learning, co-creation, etc.)
  3. 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.

Player Boards:

Gameshifting Board: Player Board

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:


Sample Gameshifting 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

Gameshifting Simplified
Arthur Brock adapted Gameshifting for use in Agile Learning Centers for K-12 kids to run meetings when designing their week, their curriculum or the operations of the school.


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

This configuration is rather detailed, and uses two boards. The Gameshifting Groundrules board is set at the beginning of a session and has the things that are not likely to change much during meeting. The Gameshifting Dynamics board has the social dynamics that you want to change in the course of your meeting.
Gameshifting Groundrules
Gameshifting Dynamics
Dynamics 2 -->> ( Pretty Printed Version )
Gameshifting Dynamics 2
One nice thing about this set of boards is how it combines the intention of focus of the group with the trajectory icons since those dynamics are, in fact, usually connected. It helps people visualize where they are in a process and what kind of intentions are likely to come next.

Gameshifting at ALF Summer 2014

This is a simplified version used with for the Agile Learning Facilitator Training as well as with the kids at the ALC Mosaic summer camp.
Gameshifting at ALF Summer 2014

Quaker Community GameShifiting

Some elements of Quaker process had already been showing up on the boards (Clerking, Sense of the Meeting, etc.) but now we customized a GameShifting board for a Quaker Community Retreat:
QIVC GameShifting Board

Various Agile Learning Center Boards

GameShift Everett

GameShift NYC

GameShift Oahu