Playing is the means by which we grow to recognize connections between things, to learn to succeed in the environment around us, and to know the world in general. We learn from experience, and so it seems natural to incorporate games as a method of continuous learning. In an integral approach, we should use the games that are designed in such a way where one learns that an individual’s success depends on the success of others and vice versa, and therefore in order to succeed, one has to first help the others. As a result, instead of an individual winning over others, the participants learn how to win together with others and achieve common goals. What’s also worth mentioning is that participants’ fulfillment in these kind of games is much higher than in competitive games.

What is a game?

A game is a simulation of a future state that we would like to be in. According to Dan Elkonin (1978), “a game not only evolves or reforms individual intellectual operations, but also radically changes the position of one in his relationship to the world and forms the mechanism of a possible change of position and coordination of his point of view with other possible points of view.”

In the organizational learning realm, students should be taken through various experiences in order to recognize that:

  • The effectiveness of the work depends on the level of group’s cohesiveness.
  • All members of the group are interdependent and interconnected.
  • The group is connected with other groups.
  • Everyone’s individual qualities and characteristics are important, and how they can be used most effectively through teamwork.
  • The world is highly interdependent and human self-centric nature presents a challenge to our harmonious well-being.

Games are often accompanied by discussion. These two integral instruments (games and follow-up discussion) help students work on their connection as well as provide them with realization of new types of behaviors. This process is very efficient because students themselves create a new knowledge as a result of their interaction in the game. As such, they absorb new information, concepts and skills quickly and learn with joy. This method fortifies one’s natural desire to learn and explore.

Type of games

  • Games of connection and bonding, literally showing ways of how to exit one’s “me” and become “we.”
  • Discussion games, which are the basis of mutual discussion and help social development of each individual within a group.
  • Practical games that let its players reach a common goal by building strong connections between them. These games teach its players practical skills of collaborating with each other while enjoying the process.

A game is considered “integral” if it:

  • Raises a person above one’s self, above personal fears.
  • Helps one trust the group.
  • Helps everyone to discover each other.
  • Creates a warm atmosphere.
  • Teaches how to make decisions together.
  • Builds unity and cohesion in the team and does not promote individual competition.
  • Students have to reach their own conclusions from the game.
  • The game’s success is measured by its participants’ ability to reach mutual agreement, common actions, and thoughts about other group members.
  • Impressions first, games after. Students should be asked to write answers to the following questions before the game begins: “How will I play in this game? How will I interact with the others? How will I feel the group an even guess the actions of my friends? How will I help them?”
  • A game can be applied everywhere, it is a means for learning and development.
  • Players play as if they are members of a single family.
  • Rules of the game encourage connection, not competition.

Additional game guidelines:

  • Students have to reach their own conclusions from the game.
  • The game’s success is measured by its participants’ ability to reach mutual agreement, common actions, and thoughts about other group members.
  • Impressions first, games after. Students should be asked to write answers to the following questions before the game begins: “How will I play in this game? How will I interact with the others? How will I feel the group and even guess the actions of my friends? How will I help them?”
  • A game can be applied everywhere, it is a means for learning and development.
  • Players play as if they are members of a single family.
  • Rules of the game encourage connection, not competition.

Two great games

connected1. Connected 

The goal of the game: An introductory game use to create a friendly and cooperative atmosphere between the participants.

Game flow: The participants stand in a circle. One person hold a ball of yarn, says his name and his favorite thing in the world, and tosses the ball to another person, who wraps the string around his wrist, says his name and his favorite thing in the world and tosses the ball onwards.

After everyone is tied together in a web of string, they must now undo the web by tossing the ball of yarn in reverse order, from last to first. This time, however, each person says something good about the person he tossed the ball to.

The last one to receive the ball says something good about the whole group.

Note: you can also use this game as a concluding game where participants share their impressions of the event.

game bottle2. Pen in the Bottle

The goal of the game: To establish cooperation and friendly atmosphere among the participants.

Game flow: Place an empty water bottle in a center of a circle of participants. Tie a number of strings to a pen. Each participant holds one piece of the string and together the participants try to manipulate the strings in order to insert the pen inside the bottle.

To make the game more challenging ask all participants to close their eyes and only one participant who is left with their eyes open will direct everyone else on their quest.