Updated: Mar 17
There are so many games to choose from. But which ones are really worth the effort? Of course, being the Happy Scrum Master, I have quite a few favourites which I'm more than happy to share with you. Last month, I shared my own successful online adaptation of one of my favourite games. This month, we’ll be playing offline - YAY! - but still keeping it safe, of course. I’ll discuss a few games you can play without breathing down each other's necks, including one of my own invention.
This month we’ll be playing: Corona Proof Games - Safari and Nippon
I was sooo happy to finally be able to get together again with my colleagues. A few weeks ago, I got to organise my first offline team session since ages. Planning the session was a bit of a challenge because I had to keep the whole ‘social distancing thing’ in mind when sorting through my serious play library. Not only did I have to figure out if the games I had in mind suited my team and this particular team session but I also had to think about how corona proof they were. Or how corona proof I could make them. But you know me, I love a good challenge and it turns out that quite a few of my favourites are corona proof too.
For games like 33 and the Hacker Game (or Detective Game), all I need to do is make sure we have enough room to create a big enough circle. That’s easy. And the offline version of Contamination is also perfectly safe if you have a big enough space to play it in. And that’s the most important thing with most games, I guess. Making sure you have a big enough location. As soon as I figured that out, I was ready to roll. I finally ended up choosing Safari and Nippon!! And boy, did we have a blast!
This one’s very dear to me because I invented it myself. And it might surprise you, but this isn’t a very active and energetic game at all. I came up with this game to create a fun way to get to know my team. I wanted something that would challenge people to not fall into the trap of the standard ‘getting to know each other’ Q&A and I wanted to make them use both their mind and their body. Oh, and I wanted this to really be a group effort too. I was thinking about ways to get people to explore their own and other people’s minds and then I thought: How about we go on a team safari?
It really helps to get into the spirit of things if you pretend you’re Steve Irwin, Jane Goodall, or Sir David Attenborough as Facilitator. Make them feel as if they are part of an exploration team. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to have ‘The lion sleeps tonight’ playing in the background either. ;-)
Begin the game by giving everybody a big sheet of paper and a set of markers. Have them draw some weird facts about themselves. Things they love, hobby's, unexpected quirks or experiences. The crazier the better! Just as long as it’s something personal and they can draw it, it’s allowed. Once they’re done, hang all the pieces of paper on the walls spread out across the room. We’ve now created our jungle and it’s time to go exploring.
Give everybody a bunch of Post-Its and send them out on their own personal safari. Have them explore the drawings and see if they can make sense of them. They can put stickies with questions next to each drawing if they would like to know more about them.
Once everybody has finished exploring all the sheets of paper, it’s time for the final round. But now, we’re going on a guided tour. This time, the person who created the drawings gets to be David Attenborough and guide people through their piece of the jungle by answering the questions on the stickies.
By allowing people to decide for themselves what they’re willing to share, you create a safe space. And it always amazes me what people come up with. For instance, I now know that one of my team members once got arrested in Prague. For climbing a statue of a horse when they were 15. How cool is that? Another team member is obsessed with design in general and the design of weird and specific stuff like for instance chicken nuggets. Did you know that McDonalds' nuggets come in 4 different shapes? I do now!
All these fun facts really help you to get to know each other and share experiences, especially when they don’t know each other that well. And that was exactly what I was hoping to achieve. Because everything’s spread out across the room and there’s no running or jumping involved, it’s very easy to keep a distance. Corona proof: check!
This is a great action game for after lunch to get the creative juices flowing again. This game is all about having good reflexes. If you don’t respond fast enough or incorrectly, that’s it, you’re out. The game ends when there’s only one person left standing.
There are four gesture and word combinations everybody needs to master:
Nippon: Bent down on one knee and place your fist on the ground
Haï: Make a fake karate punch in the direction of the person standing next to you
Hattamara: Attack another person by pointing in their direction with both hands
Sensei Kimono: Place your hands above your head to create a roof to defend yourself
Start the game with a ‘Nippon’. This gesture has to be copied by everyone in the circle and can be played at any time during the game.
You can then follow this by a ‘Haï’ to the person on your right. That person needs to copy your move and make a ‘Haï’ to the person on their right, who then needs to copy that move until everybody in the circle has had a turn.
Or, you can decide to change things up by changing direction. So instead of copying the move, you respond by making a ‘Haï’ to the person on your left. Who’s not expecting it and will have to react quickly by copying your ‘Haï’ to the person on their left or leave the circle.
But going back and forth in circles gets boring real soon, even if you throw in another ‘Nippon’ every once in a while. So you can also decide to respond by attacking someone by performing a ‘Hattamara’. If that person wasn’t paying attention, that’s it, they’ll have to leave. But if they respond quick enough and correctly by performing a ‘Sensei Kimono’ they can save themselves and then they get to decide the next move.
Because these gestures and words are not something that you’d normally use and because the game is played at a fast pace, it’s really difficult to not only react at the right moment but also give a correct response. It messes with your mind and it’s fun to see yourself and others struggling to keep up.
And yes, it’s an active game but because you stick to your place in the circle, it’s a game that can be easily made corona proof by making sure you have enough room. Watch a video of this game below. I’m so happy to be able to play ‘live’ again and I can’t wait to organise my next session.