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Subject: The Metagame used for a Team Building Activity. rss

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Having been "outed" as a gamer at work, I was nominated to provide the ‘compulsory fun’ section at our obligatory Xmas work function. Something to keep 30-40 people entertained for about 30-40 minutes.

So, I decided on The Metagame (the Massive Multiplayer version). In a nutshell, it worked with a few variations. Let me explain.

The rules of the massive multiplayer version I think were intended for large groups of people who generally don’t know many of the others in the group. So, in that situation, the idea of breaking up into small groups seems reasonable. I found that with our team, they were reluctant to break up into smaller groups (possible a function of the small room size). As they all knew each other, the dynamics were such that they were all more comfortable leaning again the wall to form one big circle (which is good, as it is more inclusive).

So, the first change was that I became the facilitator. I would ask the whole group for someone to ask a question using an Opinion Card, and then for volunteers to answer it with a Culture Card. I should note that in this example, each person got 4 Culture Cards and 2 Opinion Cards. As facilitator I would help the person answering to flesh out their reason on why they selected their particular Culture Card. This was necessary as the base game suggests people present their argument for up to a minute. This might work for Americans and/or Toastmasters, but not for your Australian crowd. In this case, most tended to just mention the Culture Card title (Apples to Apples style) then talk briefly about why they chose it (typically for about 10 seconds). This is fine, so just accept it.

Another change made was not limiting the discussion to only two people. The last thing you want in a group who are reluctant to talk is to shut down people who want to contribute. So the approach used, after someone asked the question, was to ask the group if anyone had a suitable Culture Card for the answer. This got the first person to speak. You then asked the rest of the group if anyone else would like to speak to one of their culture cards. We also made a rule, to encourage other people to talk, that if no one else added a topic, the original person would win three spare Culture Cards from the leftover pile. Then we would keep going, asking again if anyone else would like to talk to their Culture Card, until eventually no one else wanted to talk. On average, we would get 4-5 responses a question, which made the prize of the winner collecting all the non-winning Culture Cards more valuable.

Whilst we started asking people to vote for the best response, we found this can be negative to those who had the courage to answer. Nothing shuts a person down quicker when no one in the whole group publicly acknowledges their response with a vote (because someone has done a much better job). It started to work much better when the facilitator asked the option card speaker to also be the adjudicator of the best response (so they only talk about the best answer and there is no public shaming of those who did not win). Further, to make it a meaningful decision, they also had to briefly explain why they voted that way (and maybe even commend others in how difficult it was to make the vote).

With the above variations to the game, it actually worked quite well for this particular situation.
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