I love games. Used effectively they can:
- Create fun – By random acts of silliness and sudden outbursts of laughter. By participating without a care for the why, who or what – just for the fun!
- Teach us something about others – By discovering similarities and differences. By learning something you may not have known already. By invoking curiosity to start or continue conversations.
- Break down barriers – By offering conversation starters. By breaking the awkward silences. By helping the ‘shy’ people ‘mingle’.
- Build trust – By breaking down barriers. By building relationships. By evening the playing field (ie. creating an ‘everyone is equal’ attitude/vibe). Trust allows people to share pieces of themselves without fear that they’ll be ridiculed or ignored. Trust creates opportunities for people to meet new challenges, knowing that others are there to support them. It means giving something a try, perhaps not succeeding, but knowing that the group will support additional attempts without ridicule.
- Set a positive ‘camp’/’team’/’group’ vibe – By creating a positive and encouraging environment that promotes participation and involvement. By engaging all students. By helping create a feeling of support and empowerment. By helping students meet and mingle with other students
Used incorrectly (ie. wrong type of game), ineffectively (ie. inadequate debrief) or excessively they can be frustrating, annoying and detrimental to the group.
There are different TYPES of games:
- Name Games- The purpose of these activities is to learn or freshen up on everyone’s names. Knowing other peoples names and being known by others is an important part of belonging.
- Get to know you games – Games that focus on learning something about others in the group. Some of these games are also designed to get people communicating with others. These games should be treated as a challenge or an opportunity if they get someone they don’t usually talk to.
- Icebreakers & FUNN – Typically icebreakers promotes positive participation (ie. everyone feels safe to get involved) by breaking down a few barriers between participants. FUNN meaning Functional understanding not necessary… These games challenge participants to enjoy having some silly fun. They can really boost the energy level of the group or set a ‘fun vibe’. An example would be circle games (like Yee Har). Good indoor (or limited space) games that require little physical activity and are better with smaller numbers!
- Team games & initiatives – Require the ‘team/group’ to work together to solve a problem. Typically relies on good group/relationship and leadership skills.
I feel knowing which game to use when is important.
- New groups typically need ‘name games’ and ‘get to know you games’ to break down a few barriers
- Icebreakers are good inclass ‘brain breaks‘ or ‘rewards’
- Icebreakers can be a good way to explore ‘positive participation’ and ‘give it a go’ type attitudes for camps/teams (ie. these games are only fun/safe/positive if everyone ‘lets loose’ and gets involved)
- Circle games are good around the campfire or in class brain breaks.
- Team games and initiatives need adequate time dedicated to them. Brief, play, debrief, followup. Team games typically used to build cooperation and team work leading up to the more challenging initiative games. Initiative games require a certain level of cohesiveness in order for participants to succeed.
There are great resources out there with game ideas and instructions:
- Youth Group Games
- The Ultimate Camp Resource
- Group Games App by the PEGeek
- ClassBreak App by Dale Sidebottom