How to prepare for and conduct a training game well?

GETTING TO KNOW THE GAME

The instructions to some games can be really elaborate, so we always recommend that in the first place you should read through the Instructions to Participants. As a result, you will quickly understand the scenario, objectives and rules.

After that, familiarize yourself with the instructions on how to conduct the game: the Game Plan, the detailed guidelines on how to conduct the game, as well as the suggested Debrief.

As you are reading through the instructions, refer to any accessories or printouts mentioned. Simulate the way the participants will be using them in the course of the game.

PRINTOUTS

In every game you will find advice on which pages to print out and in how many copies. We leave it to you to decide what kind of paper and printer resolution to use, whether to cut particular items out or not, etc.

Prepare the whole set of printouts well before the game starts. You may find it helpful to put them into separate sleeves, folders or boxes.

If you are going to deal with a larger number of these, it may be a good idea to make sure that there is an additional table in the training room, assigned exclusively for the necessary gaming materials, where you will be able to lay them all out so that no one else but you can seem them.

TESTING THE GAME

The gaming instructions are designed to provide you with all the information necessary to conduct the game and the debrief properly. However, by organizing a test game, you will learn the game mechanics and additional aspects, which will enable you to fine-tune the game to your particular expectations. The practice you will get in giving instructions, conducting the game and the debrief will certainly be of great value, too.

If you have an opportunity to do so, we do recommend that you conduct a test game.

MODIFYING THE GAME

We leave it to you to decide whether to modify the game in any way. We believe you are able to do it to the benefit of your workshop target group. Bear in mind, however, that changing certain parameters of the game (e.g. any numerical data) may have a negative effect on its course or make the game unplayable altogether.

If in doubt, write to us.

PREPARING THE ROOM

The place where you work with your group should allow free interaction between the players. In the instructions you will certainly find information on any additional requirements, for instance concerning the arrangement of the tables or the size of the room.

Most of our games are intended for use in a training room, but they can also be conducted outdoors.

NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS

In the description of every game you will find suggestions as to the group size. We define the minimum and optimum number of players, as well as the number not to be exceeded. Failure to follow these instructions will make it difficult or even impossible to play the game and achieve the desired developmental objectives.

If you expect a larger number of participants, a possible solutions is to conduct two or more games simultaneously. In that case, you will find it useful to have the assistance of additional trainers helping you to conduct the games. Also, arrange the training session in a room large enough for all the teams to work comfortably independent of one another.

Write to us if you want to make sure that a specific game will be playable in your particular group.

ICE-BREAKING

Our games do not include an ice-breaking module. Take care of it by yourself.

DIVISION INTO TEAMS

When dividing the participants into teams, make sure that these have more or less the same number of members.

If your training course is attended by people from different organisations, you may think it a good idea to form teams comprised of participants who do not know one another. This way you will amplify the ice-breaking effect of the game.

If the game is going to be played by members of one organisation, think of how to form the teams so that the participants can benefit the most – whether to put the representatives of a given department together, or assign them to different teams, giving them an opportunity to work with people from other departments.

RULES OF WORKING

Establishing the rules of working together is very important to the final effect of the game. First of all, the aim of the rules is to provide the framework for action and strengthen everyone’s feeling of security during the game and the debrief. This, in turn, will result in a greater readiness to express one’s opinions and share one’s experiences, or more confidence in formulating one’s conclusions.

Important elements of such a contract include:

  • Openness to new experiences.
  • Respect for oneself and the others.
  • Sharing one’s experiences and opinions.
  • Observing time limits.
  • Providing constructive feedback.

STARTING THE GAME

Do not let the participants in on too many details before the game. This could affect their commitment or cause an attitude hindering any further activity. Also, avoid passing on information about the rules and objectives – the participates will learn that from the written instructions.

As an introduction, say a few words about the plan of the game (duration, stages and breaks, if any) and briefly outline the area the game concerns. In every game documentation you will find suggestions for an appropriate introduction.

HANDING OUT THE INSTRUCTIONS

Make sure that everyone has understood the rules and objectives described in the instructions and answer any questions the participants might have. For some of our games, it is important that certain answers are not given in an open forum, as this would affect the correct completion of the game. Whenever this is the case, you will be warned about it in the instructions.

CONDUCTING THE GAME

Always clearly indicate the moment the game starts. If necessary (as indicated in the instructions), keep the players informed of how much time they have till the end of the game.

YOUR ACTIVITY DURING THE GAME

Watch the particular teams as they work and, based on your knowledge, write down some of the more interesting observations. These will certainly come in handy during the debrief.

Make use of the competency models if they are included in the instructions. They will give you a hint on what specific behaviours may occur during the game. You may also wish to use the models as training materials for the participants.

In some of our games, your duties may additionally include assessing certain suggestions made by the players and giving them advice in this respect or seeing to it that the players observe certain rules (when they fail to do so in the heat of the game). You will be warned about it in the instructions.

BREAKS

For more elaborate games we indicate where it is best to plan a break. Avoid having a break straight after the game comes to an end, before the debrief. The participants need to be given a chance to express themselves and share their first impressions.

ENDING THE GAME AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS

If you have already used games, you know that some may spark strong emotions in the players. That is why, before going on to discuss their experiences and draw conclusions aimed at developing the participants’ competencies, it is worth giving them a chance to “get out of the role-play”.

Below there are 3 ways to achieve that:

  1. Clearly indicate the end of the game, for instance using the tone of voice and body language.
  2. Announce the results. Clapping the winners and giving thanks to the other participants is always a good idea. It will also emphasize the transition to the next stage of the training game.
  3. Ask open questions, such as: What are your impressions of the game? Address your questions directly to those who got particularly engaged in the game. Also, invite comments from those who have not spoken themselves – some people do not reveal their emotions even if these are very strong.

Moderate the discussion. Once the emotions have subsided and you notice that conclusions begin to be put forward, it will be a sign for you to start discussing the participants’ experiences.

DEBRIEF

This stage is aimed to integrate the role-play experiences with those from the participants’ professional lives.
Ask questions to generate conclusions and helpful hints concerning development. In every game documentation, we suggest some good questions to use at this point.

We also recommend this post – Questions to guarantee an effective training game debrief.

FINAL STAGE OF THE DEBRIEF – CONCLUSIONS

The conclusions drawn from the role-play and the follow-up discussion will depend to a large extent on the participants’ skills and previous experiences. Remember that the role-play, which serves as the basis for the debrief, may take a significantly different course in different training groups. Hence every instance of using the game may provide you with completely different topics for the follow-up discussion.

The recommended duration of the debrief is a suggestion based on our experience in conducting a given game. Taking into account your training objectives and the group’s needs, decide how much time to actually spend on this stage of the game.

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