What is game training?

Game training is an innovative and exciting approach to personal and professional development. It is participatory, engaging and energetic. To properly understand ‘GameTraining’, it is best to start by exploring its four component parts; games, group game dynamics, gamification and game theory.

What we mean by ‘Games’

Jane McGonigal’s “Reality is Broken” breaks a game down in to four parts:

  • A goal, which gives participants a sense of purpose
  • Barriers (better known as “rules”), which inspire strategic and creative solutions
  • A feedback system, such as points or progress indicators, which provides motivation to keep playing
  • Voluntary participation, so that all players accept the three elements above

Whilst usually competitive, games can be extraordinarily powerful in helping to establish common ground for tackling challenges through collaboration and innovation.

Within a game training environment a ‘game’ is defined as ‘entertaining, inter-active and strategic play which supports learning and creative thinking for personal and professional development’.

These ‘games’ are real, live, inter-active and low-tech (so not computer or virtual games). It includes circle games, action games, problem-solving games, drama games and team development games

What we mean by ‘Group Game Dynamics’

Group dynamics is the way that people and groups interact and behave, it is central to our understanding human psychology, sociology and communication.

By combining ‘game’ and ‘group dynamics’, we can better understand these interactions and behaviours through games and play, Group game dynamics therefore is ‘the way that people behave and interact within a game or experiential activity’.

This supports individuals and teams to learn about how they and others function within a group, make strategic decisions, interact with others and develop relationships.

What we mean by ‘Game Theory’

Game Theory has its foundations in mathematics and economics. Eight game theorists have won a Nobel Prize, so it can be pretty technical stuff, but don’t let that put you off. In recent years it has become a more mainstream tool for supporting decision-taking.

Game Theory considers everyday circumstances as ‘games’ and the parties involved as ‘players’. It then uses this to model decision-making where your success depends on anticipating and acting upon the choices of others.

A ‘game’ then, in game theory, is used as a metaphor for a real-life situation. The basic principles involve assigning a relative value to various possible outcomes from the ‘game’ as they would affect the different ‘players’. These are then used to estimate other players’ actions and reactions, and to thereby anticipate the best choice for yourself or your group.

What we mean by ‘Gamification’

Terrible word. Great idea. And one that has been rapidly spreading.

It is the ‘integration of game mechanics into a service, community, website, content or campaign to drive engagement.’

Gamification applies the principles of popular games to non-game activities to better motivate and influence people. When used well, it can be an incredibly powerful way of creating and enhancing participation and loyalty.

Everyone plays games, and not necessarily computer games; bridge, poker, chess, backgammon, monopoly, charades, snap, anything really. Consider, what is it about those games that incentivises people to play them? Maybe it’s sociable, competitive, there are rewards, it gives them a sense of achievement, it’s fun, makes them think, is challenging, carries rewards, they may like the feeling of winning, it might boost their self-esteem, they bond with peers, they can even develop a high status for doing well.

Gamification attempts to take those motivators that we naturally have in play, as well as the more practical mechanics that make things into a game, and place them into non-game activities. Activities that may be ‘boring’ or ‘responsible’, like recycling, learning something new, managing a project, planning an event, networking, paying bills, going shopping. These ‘game mechanics’ can be developed online and offline to positively adapt behaviour.

Gamification already plays a major role in the success and popularity of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. It can also be found in the long-term strategies of business across all sectors and of all sizes, from supermarkets and airlines, to car manufacturers and hoteliers.


Game training takes the most useful elements from each of these four areas to ‘creatively use games whilst exploring group game dynamics, gamification and game theory, to support the development of essential skills for the modern work environment, including effective collaboration, strategic thinking, communication and business development.’

A game training’ session will typically include a group of 10 – 20 individuals, either colleagues at the same organisation, or individuals that have little to no previous connection.

The philosophy of game training is that its workshops are inter-active, energetic and inclusive. There’s no sitting in the corner with game training – if you’re in the room you’re expected to join in. The sessions use numerous games (of course), experiential activity and group exercises to facilitate growth and learning in individuals and organisations.

Each activity is typically followed by a debrief and short discussion, exploring what application can be taken from the learning.  Game training places as much emphasis on outcome as it does on process, so drawing out application and synthesis is always central to its approach. Throughout this process the inter-active nature of playing games creates a collaborative environment amongst the participants, supporting team enhancement.

Game training also supports you to examine and improve your current decision-making and strategic thinking processes, introducing participants to elements of behavioural economics, exploring how this can support the team to work more effectively both in groups and individually. For example, game training cites the deceptively simple playground game ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ as a means to explore how we make decisions and to consider what strategic-thinking processes better enable us to maximise information and make more informed choices.

During the more in-depth courses we examine in greater detail business practice and explores ways and means to gamify services and products in order to dramatically drive engagement and customer loyalty.

If you would like to find out more about game training workshops, you may want to attend a free half-day event being held in Central London, ‘An Introduction to GameTraining in the Workplace and Beyond’ on the 30th June. Places are very limited, so to secure a space please e-mail enquiry@treetoptraining.co.uk.

For an informal chat call us on 020 7193 1254, or you can follow us on Twitter @GameTrainUK


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