Communicating through games

Man with can and string phone
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

The more work I do with teams and groups, the more it becomes apparent that communication is the absolute foundation to everything that goes around it.

You can’t build trust without talking.  You can’t explore ideas without being able to share opinions.  You can’t work together without being able to communicate effectively.

So it felt right that the first official game in my Toybox was Communication Top Trumps.  In fact, the game came first – it was what led me to actually make the Toybox a reality rather than a “one day” in my head.

I actually designed the game as a demo session to share with a group and show them the kind of thing I do.  But it was made quite clear to me that there was more to it than that – it wasn’t just a demo, it was the start of what was to come.

The funny thing is that I don’t recall playing top trumps as a child – I think it appeared in my adult life at some stage and I became aware of just how many different decks were available! So why did I choose this as the basis of my first game?  Because;

  • I love a card game – having something to hold in your hand to keep them occupied or give yourself a little mental barrier….!
  • I like that it has the ability to show different strengths – even the ‘not so great’ cards have something brilliant on them
  • It’s part tactic and part guessing (but also has a winning outcome!)
Figure holding Ace of Spades
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

On top of that I could see even more potential in how the cards could be used in multiple ways.  Bringing elements of other games or activities into the mix allows for a wide range of ways to play.  And I love being able to provide variety for people.

Rather than create a deck of cards with all the answers on, I created a template for people to make their own avatar.  It has a series of communication questions, scales, focuses etc and they choose the answers that suit them.  People make their own cards (without sharing the answers) and then play can commence.

There’s something about being part of the creation of the game itself that gives people more ownership and interest into what happens next.  It builds the curiosity bank up and people are eager to share their answers and to see what others have chosen.

It’s a fantastic way to test perceptions too.  Just because one person appears to be very chatty doesn’t mean that’s their natural state – maybe they feel they have to be like that at work to fit in.  Or maybe because the quiet person never talks about their dreams, you assume it means they don’t have any… only to find out that they are the highest scorer in that area.

It’s fascinating to watch it all play out.  The surprise, the affirmation, the nods, the ahas! And the conversation that simply falls into place around it as people are interested to know more and understand each other’s scores.

Playing Communications Top Trumps
Real life reactions whilst playing Communication top Trumps! Photo by Hels Palmer, HELIX

Games have a way of opening up conversations.  They allow exploration in such a way that discussion flows easily, more naturally and more openly.  It’s not forced, it’s not a series of tick box questions – there’s room to talk about whatever comes up for people, often things they’d never considered before.

What I love about Communication Top Trumps is that is allows people to feel heard and understood whilst also equipping them with the knowledge about everyone else too.  They can understand the best way to approach someone in their team or who they can go to when they need a different viewpoint to their own.

It makes learning fun – and that is my mission!

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Creativity Coach at Imagine If
Cat Hase is a Creativity Coach who specialises in designing games, activities and workshops that are filled with interactive, engaging and playful exercises.

People can buy these to use themselves via the Toybox or they can work with her to help them design their own through having a Playdate.

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