Series on Games: Introduction
Updated: Jan 29
At TrainMovePlay we only play games with kids...and teens... and adults; and small, intimate groups of people who know each other well and large groups just meeting; and to break the ice, let off steam, come into contact, and loads of other reasons. Games serve so many purposes that when we sat down to write one blog post about how and why we use them, it quickly became a whole series of posts! So settle in for a series on games and tasks.
The coming series will look at the games we use most often.
We'll provide detailed instructions on how to play them, with notes about the groups and situations in which we find them most useful, and tips for leading them effectively. We'll also include variations to make them more versatile, challenging, or appropriate.
Each post will focus on a specific purpose.
For example, we'll have a post on Games for Breaking the Ice and another on Games for Sparking Creativity. We hope the categories ensure that this series is a practical tool kit for movement teachers and group leaders, allowing you to easily access information as you plan classes.
We also foresee soooooo much overlap that will make categorizing difficult and incomplete. Many games serve several purposes - especially our favorite games. That's what makes them great teaching tools! So, we also hope you will browse the entire series and get a sense of how you can mix and match games, or parts of games, to serve your own purposes. The last post of this series will be a Quick Reference Guide that lists games in alpha order with short descriptions and links to the fuller posts. That one should help you find information easily later.
We would loooooooove to hear some feedback from you about how you use these and other games in your movement classes and experiences. Which games do you love? Which ones of your favorites did we leave out? How have you adapted our ideas?
We'll make an effort to credit the person or group who taught us each game, however, some of these we have been playing for so long we don't remember where we got them. And some games we have either created ourselves, or adapted so heavily that we consider them totally new. That is not to say that someone else hasn't also created the same game. But we'll try to give credit where credit is due.
In this introduction
We want to provide some context and general thoughts on games and tasks as a whole. All of the games we'll present in later posts have some things in common that make them a good addition to a movement class, workshop, or event.
Games get us moving. The games we use require very little instruction and, in fact, the easier to pick up and play, the more we use it. Often we can provide instructions with one sentence and sometimes we can lead a game with no verbal instructions at all. This is especially important when we are working with folks who are used to being "in their heads" and we want them to be "in their bodies." Too many words can weigh down a movement experience. So, a game could be the perfect transition from "work mode" to "play mode."
Games are easy. Everyone can be successful. Most of the games we'll share are cooperative or at least non-competitive. For this reason, one might label many of our ideas as "tasks," rather than games. We use the terms somewhat interchangeably. However, we label them, they serve to give participants a feeling of achievement and confidence going forward.
Games set the tone. Say we have a group of 150 teenaged boarding school students to whom we are introducing Acroyoga. We will require them to be in close physical contact and also to be focused and aware enough to be good spotters and keep themselves and each other safe. We have a game for that. (See Magic Hand.) Or maybe we are part of a corporate team building retreat for a small group of newly hired professionals who work mainly at a desk and don't know each other well. We have a game for that. (See Over, Under, Around.) Whether we want to draw the energy of the group in, bring the energy up, prepare the group for play, or switch gears, games help us set a tone and manage expectations.
Games are safe spaces to experiment with communication, touch, and boundaries, among other things. The stakes are inherently low in a game, especially if it isn't about winning or losing, but completing a task.
Games are fun. 'Nough said.
A note on the language of play
In an interview with Krista Tippet for the On Being podcast, Harvard professor of psychology, and author of, The Power of Mindful Learning, Ellen J. Langer discussed a study in which some participants were asked to perform "labor" while others were given "exercises." The activities for both groups were exactly the same, however, when the word "labor" was applied to the tasks, the participants worked harder and lost more weight then when the word, "exercise" was used. (As if we needed further proof that 'exercise' stinks!) The point is, changing our language around an experience can have a huge impact on our perception of, dedication to, motivation for, and engagement with the experience. In TrainMovePlay classes and workshops, we often replace the word "warm up" with the word "game." We might also use words like, "movement riddles, movement puzzles, and play" as substitutes for words like "drills, training, or conditioning." When we change the language, we change the purpose, mood and energy around the task.