Learning Through Games

As a trainer, I have become increasingly convinced that games and simulations provide an excellent platform for learning concepts and new behaviours. I am playing and training with more and more games than ever before. It was getting hard for me to remember all the games and decide which one to use in a particular situation. (Can someone please create a public website where we can list games, rate them and tag them by the problems they solve?)

Where Games Play

Here are some of the games that I am currently use or want to use in training. I have played and used more than this, but I can’t list everything…

pair draw, backlog is in the eye of the beholder, bottleneck game, movers and shapers, ball point game, constellations, Improv, Go!, Collaborative Origami, 99 test balloons, marshmallow challenge, business value game,  Leadership game

What’s with the grid?

  • People – games about people learning individual skills or learning about individuals
  • System – games about the team or organization
  • Concepts – games primarily about teaching concepts or ideas
  • “Experiencing our reality” – games the help us understand ourselves and our context

Links – People/Concepts

Links – System/Concept

  • The Biggest Bang for the Buck – backlog organization and prioritization – (60 min). Game I created with Gino Marckx will be released around Agile2010.
  • The Backlog is in the Eye of the Beholder – organizing backlog from different stakeholder views (40 min). Game I co-created at Deep Agile.
  • Business Value Game – helps understand different views of value. Steps towards a model. (90 min)
  • Marshmallow Challenge – understand benefits of incremental and evolutionary design (45 min)
  • XPGame – Scrum variant – basics of iterative development and acceptance testing (180 min)
  • Penny Game – Flow of value, small batches and process improvement (30 min)
  • Bottleneck Game – understanding process and applying theory of constraints (90 min)
  • Name Game – Limit concurrent projects to deliver faster (10 min)
  • Movers and shapers – experience team dynamics (10 min)

Links – System/Reality

  • Ball Point Game – process improvement, teamwork (40 min)
  • Value Stream Mapping – hmmm. not a game really
  • Leadership Game – self-organization and leadership styles (180 min)

Links – People/Reality

  • Constellations – Share team perspectives (30 min)
  • Improv Games and Hypontizing hypnotist – Get better at collaboration and innovation (10 min to ?)
    • Failure Bow – To innovate you need to celebrate failure. Learn how. (15 min)
  • Yes, And (not Yes, But) – Shift your mindset towards collaboration (15 min)
  • MarketPlace – share skills with the team (60+ min)

Other thoughts

Please draw your own maps and share them!

Other games

I did not include games that have are designed to achieve and outcome such as  retrospectives, planning poker or Innovation Games® since the primary purpose is not training/teaching. These are important too.

Happy to be finally attend InnovationGames in Chicago, July 15/16.

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  1. Hello Michael,

    As replied in the Agile Games google group (http://groups.google.com/agilegames)
    I think the Tasty Cup Cakes websites is what you are lucking for:


    It would be nice to have links to all the games you mention.

    Unfortunatly I won’t make it to the innovation games course.
    (again, I already missed one last week.)

    • Yves – thanks for comments. Tastycupcakes is a web site for Agile games, not a games meta-repository and sharing site. I am thinking of the latter. Like http://www.userstories.com/products but for games.

      Links have been added. Phew!

  2. Great list of games! I’m interested in all kinds of Lean and Kanban training tools and I have a bunch of other games listed on my blog.

    And tastycupcakes is a great site as well!

  3. For the sake of the history, I think it is important to mention you changed your idea and helped the TastyCupCakes guys to take their site to the next level. The TastyCupCake site always had the intention to do what you wanted. Now it really is.

    • Yes. Thanks for the clarification. How much things have changed since I wrote this.

      My idea was only a start place; more important is the work I have done with Mike McCollough and Don McGreal to make it happen. The back-story is that I approached them with my vision and they said this is what TastyCupcakes was intended to be. So we started working together. And still are. Volunteers are welcome 🙂



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