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Many of our readers have requested virtual team building ideas due to the events of today. We can HELP! Check out our virtual escape room experience Micah Vs The Multiverse (this is not a video game). OR your can try our interactive magic experience with International Champion of Magic, John George.
…. now back to your content.
What if you could diffuse bombs, power spaceships, and scream your lungs out for your next team building or employee engagement activity? I’ve gathered my favorite video games that can be used to explore team building concepts like communication, trust, and big picture thinking. The goal of any team building event should be to increase employee engagement. Why not use video games as that vehicle? My list is focused on challenge and puzzle based interactions. You won’t see World of Warcraft or Minecraft on the list. Those genres have obvious team interactions but take significantly more mastery of skills. If Bob in purchasing can’t pick it up in 5 minutes or less it’s not going to be fun. I chose games that require small learning curves, involve shared team effort, no special gear (2 exceptions), and are crazy fun. There are a couple of titles that snuck onto the list because they’re hilariously fun for groups.
Remember that just because an activity requires you to work together that doesn’t mean it’s team building. Managers, if you want extract maximum value from your activity, read our post on how to Turn ANY Office Activity Into a Team Building Event
1. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
Diffuse the bombs or your team perishes in a flaming fireball. There’s nothing like immolation to push a team to new heights. This is one of my all time favorite collaborative games on a computer. Split your team into two groups the Operators and the Diffusers. Operators get to actually manipulate the bomb. Diffusers have the manual. The catch? Neither side can see what the other is looking at. If you’re on the Operator team you can’t see the manual… if you have the manual, you can’t see the Bomb. You’ll have to use your words and listening skills to collaborate and beat the clock. Failure is not an option! Search the game title on YouTube and you’ll see hilarious examples of teams, couples, friends, and roommates desperately trying to keep it together.
Team Building Notes: You need clear communication to succeed on this challenge. There are easy talking points on using specific language, making assumptions, focusing on details, big picture thinking and shared vernacular. What made you successful? What were your barriers to success?
Switch Roles Split the manual between multiple people. Play over Skype (great option for teams that telecommute and want to team build remotely) Hire Sandra Bullock to drive a bus with your Operator team on board? If she drops below 60mph everyone loses a vacation day.
2. Block Party from Gigantic Mechanic
Gather 100 of your closest workmates, fire up the projector, and make sure you phone is charged. This Tetris-esque puzzle challenge gives each player a falling shape piece to control. You must combine your piece with other players to fill the shapes at the bottom of the screen as you try and set the highest score possible. I love the simplicity of the controls but the complexity of the interactions. It’s impossible to win at this game without interacting with your fellow players. I witnessed this game in action at Indiecade West and saw first hand the power of group play. Definitely check out the Gigantic Mechanic website and see what else they’re up to.
Team Building Notes: Clear communication is key but trying to find process in the chaos of large groups is a fascinating challenge. Often you don’t know who is controlling what just by looking at the screen. You’ll need big picture thinking and a shared vernacular to be successful. What skills did you use to be successful? Where do you see situations like this in your daily work like?
Pair people up. 1 person controls the game piece but can’t see the screen. Their partner must verbally guide them to place the piece correctly. Great for telecommuters – Use screen sharing via skype to allow offsite employees to play.
3. Artemis Spaceship bridge simulator
This one is for my true nerds. The sci-fi geeks and Trekkies on your team will giggle like school children in anticipation of operating Artemis’s simulator. The concept is simple – each person has a role from Captain to Navigator to Weapon Control on the spaceship. One computer hosts the simulator and main screen. Each participant’s computer functions as a work station, only showing the controls for their specific role. The Captain doesn’t have a workstation but tells everyone what to do from the middle of the room ( Yes, you can call yourself Captain Kirk). It’s time to save the galaxy!
Game Notes: This does require that each person has their own computer. Also, it’s far more effective if everyone is in the same room. You may need to bribe your local IT guru to help you with the particulars.
4. Space Team
BE PREPARED TO RAISE YOUR VOICE. This hilarious social phone based team building game will have your team trying to pilot a spaceship. The ship will tell you what to do but each player gets different instructions. AND each player has a different set of controls visible on their phone. The instructions have a time limit so you’ll need to execute them or have team member execute them pronto quick. The computer might tell you to “Move the Techboggle to 2”, but you don’t have a Techboggle. So you start yelling out “Set Techboggle 2!” until somebody freaking sets it (ahem… sorry)! Most teams quickly devolve into yelling battles as they try to get their tasks completed. Play this in a coffee shop if you want to get perplexed looks and stares. As a team building professional I’d like to say I exhibit poise and well executed communication strategies when I play this, but that would be a horrible lie.
Team Building Notes: Easy to recognize metaphors for tunnel vision, project creep, and communication styles. How did your team overcome group noise? What was your method to prioritize tasks? What parallels did you notice with communication on work projects?
This can only be played if everyone is on the same wifi network. So it’s not suitable for remote teams.
5. Scream Team
What if you could take a room full of people and control a single character in a video game… enter Scream Team. We modified an existing “runner” “single button” style game. That means the character is in a constant state of forward motion and your job is to press the button at the right times (remember flappy bird?). In this case, our Indiana Jones style character is running through a series of caves. You must help him jump over gaps, pillars, and other obstacles. BUT, we replaced the button with a microphone. As a group you must make noise when you need the character to jump. The louder the noise, the bigger the jump. I had an opportunity to feature our game at the Steam Carnival Gala with 500 people. It was hilarious!!! It works with 1 to 1000 people. Contact james