Hello Oddacious readers! Our team embarked on another Terrific Tuesday adventure, but this time, it was a mystery for all of us. What could “Toy Tuesday” possibly mean? We anxiously attempted to guess this unknown activity, but all we would get in return from Chris was a sly smile and a “you’ll see.”
Finally, Tuesday arrived and at 1:00 pm… we had even more questions! On a table were two sets of blocks and two blindfolds.
After a few head scratches and confused looks, Chris began to explain the game. The rules were simple: There was a builder, a guide, and an observer. The guide would receive a pre-built structure and must describe it in a way that allowed the builder to mimic that exact structure. The observer, well, must observe. They were allowed to interject only once per round.
You must be thinking, “that doesn't seem too difficult.”
Well, it does seem that way, doesn't it? But don't worry, there is a catch! Both the builder and the guide must be blindfolded. Yeah, that's right! The guide does not get to see pre-built structures. Uh-oh!
After dividing the group into two teams, we had the opportunity to feel the blocks to determine how to tell them apart. Some were textured, some had different amounts of bumps on them, etc. (Remember this part, because it will become important later.)
After getting some time to familiarize ourselves with the blocks, Chris assigned us our roles and the game began!
Can you guess who is the builder and who is the guide in this team?
Let me tell you, the first round was difficult for both teams. It took a while to develop a synched vernacular that would make sense to both the builder and the guide. For example, I was calling the arrow piece a “house shape,” and it wasn’t until the observer (John) had called it an arrow that the builder (Karen) could identify it. The struggle was real. But that didn’t mean that we would fail. As a matter of fact, we were able to complete the structure fairly quickly after the first round.
Success! These structures matched up perfectly.
Both teams went through several rounds when Chris decided to combine the teams for a challenge round. Here, there were two builders, two guides, and two observers. This time, only one of the guides would be blindfolded. Unfortunately, both builders had to remain blindfolded. As for the observers, they could only interject once as a team.
This is where it got tricky. We quickly discovered that both teams had developed a different vocabulary for the same objects. For example, on my team, the base piece was the piece that would go on the bottom, or that would support the structure. The other team had assigned the round pieces as the “base” pieces. The builders also had to take turns, meaning they had to quickly orient themselves with the pieces already built and adjust to the language being used. Nevertheless, we succeeded in completing the structure!
So what is the name of the game, you may ask? It is the Empathy Game.
Have you ever had a teacher or a professor tell you to write an essay as if the reader knew absolutely nothing about the topic you are writing about? Well, this is like that, but instead of writing it, we are describing it out loud.
After talking together as a team, these are some lessons we learned:
In order to be successful in this team activity, one must be able to adjust and sync up. For example, if we notice that certain terminology is not working, we should change it up until it clicks. Trust me, you will know when your team is in sync. Continuing to use the same terminology because you think you are right will result in failure.
Remember that the other person is not aware of the way you are holding the object. It is very important to be able to orient the structures so that we can start at the same place. For example, in the combined team round, a builder described the arrow as facing towards her. The guide then shifted the structure to have the arrow facing her as well.
Remember the part about familiarizing ourselves with the blocks? Don’t get me wrong, that was important! But what both teams failed to do at the beginning was to figure out how the blocks connected! We spent a lot of time attempting to connect the blocks in ways it didn’t fit. As a guide, don't be afraid to slowly remove a piece to put it back together. Help out your fellow builder!
We had a great time! One of the best games I’ve ever played. And it is because it allowed the team to bond and learn to adjust. We were building trust. We were pushing each other to succeed. We were putting ourselves in each other’s shoes. And that is the point, to learn how to empathize, to try and see (ironically) things from another’s perspective.
The game isn't over! There are so many different ways to play this game and we are excited to do it again!