Board Games for Training Inspiration

Games are a great way to help learners learn and apply content. The thing about games, however, is that they can be deceptively tricky to create. At least the good ones are.

We’ve previously shared instructions for a great training game, “Elimination”. As a team, we’ve been frequently meeting up in our local board game shop to study game elements as we work to develop a cooperative deck-building game for an upcoming train-the-trainer session. With a little manipulation, you too can turn a well-known game into your next great training opportunity. 

Training Game Building Level: Easy

Some of the best-known family games can be an excellent template for your next training game because the game mechanics are usually quite simple. In addition, game rules can be notoriously confusing (and frustrating) to pick up the first time that one plays a new game. If participants are already familiar with the game-play, they will be more easily able to focus on the content that you’re trying to reinforce (or introduce) in your game.

  • Go Fish – The basic objective of this game is matching. Create your own match cards and you’ll be ready to go. Lots of things can match such as a Customer Profile + Sales Strategy, Product + Correct Packaging, or Problem + Solution.
  • BINGO – Manipulate BINGO to be a check-for-understanding game. Set up player boards to have various answers. Ask your questions and have participants mark what they believe the answer to be. We’ve actually used BINGO to make observation/peer evaluation forms more engaging. Regardless of how you set up your BINGO cards, when someone calls out BINGO, make sure they share how they achieved BINGO. 
  • Apples to Apples – At its core (excuse my pun), apples to apples is a game of describing things. Manipulating this game to your content can be a fun and engaging way to check participants’ prior knowledge on a topic by simply creating your own category and description cards. 

Training Game Building Level: Medium

Some popular adult party games work as a great template. It will take a bit more creativity to get these games ready for your next training, but it will be well worth it when you put these to use as a mechanism to spice up a curriculum that you facilitate repeatedly. 

  • Wits & Wagers – Love pub trivia? Wits & Wagers is a trivia game mixed with a little bit of a poker flare. Players guess the answer(s) to a question and then bet on how solid their answer is. Simply modify this game for your training by writing your own question cards. 
Simply buy this game and use all of the gameplay elements. All you’ll need to create is your own question & answer cards tailored to your content.
Write your own question cards.
  • Concept – In this cooperative game, players work to guess a word or phrase based on a series of picture icons. The great thing about this game is that you can use the concept picture game board to describe ANYTHING – including important words or phrases vital to your training. Modify this game for your training by creating your own concept (word) cards. 
The gameplay is quite simple. Just follow the clues marked by the green elements: A tool that is mechanical and cuts wood – It’s a chainsaw you’re describing!
Create your own word cards to match your content. Increase the difficulty of the game by having players guess a phrase.

Training Game Building Level: Difficult

For the most part, all deck-building games follow the same general gameplay concept. Once players become familiar with the play order, playing these games in a group is a great way to understand how situational factors affect a person’s ability to accomplish a goal. Manipulating these games to develop your own training game will be a more time-consuming process, but your learners will appreciate the extra effort. 

  • Dominion, 7 Wonders or Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle – These games follow a structure of acquiring resources that allow you to perform actions. Ultimately these resources and actions enable one player to more effectively accomplish the mission. Using this format, create your own card deck containing resources (such as a train-the-trainer class, SME, etc.), actions (secure time, describe need, give a demonstration, etc.), and mission goal (win the sale, build a process, etc.) to build an awesome deck building game that will allow participants to apply their learning in a whole new way. 
Follow the card format of Dominion to create your own card deck. (Yellow cards are resources, white/blue/purple cards are actions, and green cards are points earned toward accomplishing the goal.)
The action cards from Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle follow a similar design where you gain coins (resource), lightning bolts (to accomplish your action), or hearts (to stay alive).
Add dimension to your game by adding coins, tokens, or player profile mats.
  • Settlers of Catan – Catan follows the same gameplay as above (resources, actions, mission) but adds in the extra element of a game board and physical building development opportunities. In this gameplay, players will use their resources to build towards what they are trying to accomplish (in this case, a civilization). Adopt this gameplay style by building your own game pieces, game board, and play cards. This game style would be ideal for a situation where resources and actions are limited and repeatable (such as money), but there are multiple strategies by which you can apply your resources or actions to accomplish a goal. For example, we’ve used these elements to overhaul new employee onboarding. Players were able to experience the mission of our organization and see how limited resources impacted the decisions that were made.
To use this gameplay template you’ll need to create your own cards and game board.
Collect and spend resources to accomplish your goal (to develop a civilization).
This game has only 5 possible resources (cards) and limited actions (building costs). Yet there are multiple strategies to employ to achieve your goal.

Have you used gamification in training? Tell me what games you’ve adapted (or would like to adapt, now that you’ve read this post) to fit your content, in the comments below.

Product Review: Kahoot! (An online trivia game platform)

A few weeks ago I wrote about how excited I was to stumble upon and then be able to use Kahoot! in a live training environment.

Kahoot2

On January 30, I facilitated a session with surgeons, high powered businessmen and healthcare professionals in the room. Overall, it was a very fun tool to use. Following is a more detailed review of what I liked about it as well as things you’ll want to keep in mind if you want to use Kahoot! to play a trivia game in a live classroom session.  Continue reading

18 Instructor-led Training Activities

Engaging, intentional, face-to-face and virtual instructor-led training activities can make the difference between a session that helps learners to apply new skills or knowledge and one that falls flat. The following instructor-led training activities are designed to help you meet your learning objectives.

Continue reading

PowerPoint Tricks: Free Jeopardy Game Template

When used well, PowerPoint is a presentation tool that can engage and dazzle your audience. PowerPoint holds the potential to facilitate a give-and-take between the presenter and the audience.

Your Projector and Screen are Actually a Jeopardy Game Board

One example of how a presenter can involve his or her audience is by turning the projector screen into a giant game board. Click here to download a Jeopardy-like quiz game template.

Jeopardy Game Board

The instructions are on the first slide, but feel free to contact me if you have questions or need any help bringing this to your classroom or training room.

Looking for a different PowerPoint-based game? You can turn your PowerPoint presentation into a Family Feud-like game board.

Think someone else might enjoy this Jeopardy game template? Send this along.

Creating Training Games Like Family Feud with PowerPoint

Recently I was trying to figure out how to play a quick anchor activity with a large-ish group for a presentation I’ll be giving next month.  With five key points, I decided a quick round of a Family Feud-like game could be fun.  Creating Family Feud with PowerPoint was the tool that would allow everyone to see the visual aid. While I love using a flip chart, it’s not practical for this presentation which will take place in a larger breakout room.

Creating Family Feud with PowerPoint

Initially, I was concerned that I would need to create a series of hyperlinks and branching elements if it was possible at all.  As I poked around the search results in Google for “how to create Family Feud using PowerPoint”, I came across a site with a Family Feud Template Guide.  The instructions are pretty easy.  PowerPoint has some pretty fancy features that offer the potential for high engagement and lots of interaction.  While it’s true that it took more time to put together this slide than it would have if I had simply created a bullet-pointed list, I have a feeling my learners will appreciate this approach much more.  And quite frankly, the reason we give presentations is to be in service to the learners.

How Family Feud with PowerPoint Plays Out

While screenshots don’t do justice to the way this can be used in front of a live audience, if you’ve ever seen Richard Dawson call out “SURVEY SAYS!” as two families engaged in a feud whose intensity rivaled that of the Capulets and Montagues, then you can probably imagine the potential that creating Family Feud with PowerPoint offers in a training session.

Me: 100 trainers were asked to share their favorite training tool.  The top 5 answers are on the board.  What do you think is the top answer?

Family Feud with PowerPoint board

Learner #1: PowerPoint!

Me: PowerPoint, huh?  Have you ever read my blog?  Well, let’s see if it’s up there… SURVEY SAYS!

Family Feud with PowerPoint board answer revealed

It’s a fun way to use PowerPoint in icebreakers, anchor activities and review games.  The possibilities are limited only by your instructional design imagination.

What are you doing with training games in your sessions? Have you used Family Feud with PowerPoint?

Why “Chutes and Ladders” is a Better Learning Game than “Jeopardy” or “Trivial Pursuit”

Who was the 17th president of the United States?  Knowing the answer (Andrew Johnson) doesn’t prove I can do anything, I’m just spouting off a piece of trivia.  But when my 2½-year-old son spins the Chutes and Ladders spinner and moves his game piece the correct number of spaces, he has proven that he can apply the concept of numbers.

Gamification is a hot topic in instructional design circles these days.  While the concept goes beyond any single training component, I’d like to focus on how the design of several popular board games can be applied to accomplish various levels of learning.

Game

Bloom’s Taxonomy Level

Design basics

Application for training

Trivial Pursuit; Jeopardy Knowledge Games like Trivial Pursuit or Jeopardy test the ability of someone to recall facts – nothing less and nothing more. This can be a fun way to review concepts that simply need to be memorized – steps to a process or answers to frequently asked customer service questions.  But if the goal of your training is to build or assess your learners’ skills,   you might want to choose a different game upon which to model your activities.
Chutes & Ladders Comprehension/   Application Teachers can use this game to assess whether children can demonstrate the ability to count accurately.  Speech therapists can use the game to determine if a child can pronounce the “sp” letter blend  (“It’s my turn to spin!”).  Children don’t care about any of that, they just demonstrate all of those skills because the game is fun. Chutes and Ladders has a very simple design: advance along a path by completing one simple task (spinning a spinner, then counting).  In the training room, this can be replicated by giving small groups a game board and requiring they complete a simple task (greet someone on the phone, balance a line item in a budget, etc.).  A correct answer allows them to advance, an incorrect answer and they slide down the chute.
Monopoly Analysis There comes a time in every Monopoly player’s life when they’ve had to decide whether to mortgage their property in order to buy something else that may or may not produce a good return (maybe the B&O Railroad).  It’s risky, but it could come with rewards.  And that’s how Parker Bros. has built analytical skills in children for decades. Instead of purchasing properties, Monopoly concepts can be used to train purchasing managers or others in charge of budgeting for how and when to build their inventory.
Battleship Synthesis After a few minutes of calling random coordinates, Battleship veterans begin to methodically locate and sink their opponent’s armada.  This is a game that requires players to begin with trial and error, and quickly learn from their mistakes and put together a strategy. Allen Interactions has perfected this philosophy in eLearning: throw a learner into the experience (whether or not he knows much about the topic) and let him take some guesses, receive feedback and begin to make progressively better choices.
Clue Evaluation Well, you know you didn’t do it.  Perhaps it was sweet old Mrs. Peacock in the study using a candlestick.  Clue forces players to make recommendations based upon the best information available to them.  And you can’t get reckless, because if you make an accusation, then look in the secret envelope and find out you’re wrong, you are immediately out of the game. Clue offers a tailor-made blueprint for an interactive case study in which learners proceed through an activity, getting pieces of information along the way.  This can be used in teambuilding where different learners get different pieces of information and they need to work together in order to make sense out of all the information.  It can also be used in training on problem-solving, conflict resolution or coaching skills.

Tell us about your inspiration for training games or just about your favorite game from childhood!