In some form or another, human beings have created and taken part in games for millenia. The rules and details may change, but one thing has remained true since antiquity: people love games. Games take away from the tedium of everyday life, and turning routine tasks into games can make them more enjoyable. When played in groups, games can even teach the players vital skills such as teamwork and critical thinking. As a result, today we’re going to take a look at how games can be used to teach learners vital team skills such as cooperation, communication, and problem-solving.
A common trend in both workplaces and educational courses alike is the presence of team building training. In education this can take the form of discussion boards and group projects, while in workplaces these team building lessons generally come from the Human Resources department or training exercises.
These are all very traditional methods, however, and aside from the setting there is usually very little differentiation between individual training cases within the same category. Because of this, it can often be hard for learners to fully engage with their new training, and it can often become a race to simple get through the minimum that is required without anyone actually taking the intended lessons to heart.
Games in Education
In recent years we’ve seen the rise of games used for educational purposes. During the late 2000’s there was a notable push for using simple, engaging games in elementary schools to teach children concepts in reading, writing and mathematics. In fact, research has shown that students can see an improvement as high as two grade levels from well-crafted game-based learning. This success has lead to the practice becoming more and more mainstream as time has gone on, and now games are used in universities and adults for complicated tasks like learning languages and for training purposes.
When it comes to team-building specifically, games contain a potential that more traditional methods have yet to tap into, and research has shown that children who participate in game-based learning together have their outcomes improved by an average of two standard deviations. Few things bring people together like common goals and obstacles to overcome; and when combined with the good-natured fun that games can provide you are creating opportunities for positive reinforcement and teambuilding exercise that doesn’t actually feel like a chore.
While games can be a useful tool for team building and create rewarding experiences, if they are used improperly you may not receive the full benefit from them. For instance if the games create a clear divide and are too competitive the potential for creating divides between learners can also rise. The goal is to create a memorable, engaging experience that allows for mutual cooperation and teamwork. If too many opportunities for competition and rivalry are created, then that balance may be lost and some learners may end up in a worse relationship than when they started. Striking a balance between teamwork and competition can be difficult, but once that balance is achieved you will be able to engage with your learners in new and interesting ways, and build their team skills in new and interesting ways.
Not all learning has to be hard work and time spent poring over books at a desk or table. Using games in education can present unique, fun opportunities for learners to develop the vital skills they will need throughout their lives. These games can be applied to all people across all age groups, cultures, and other barriers.