Gamestorming is where it’s at!


I came across Gamestorming when I was preparing for a presentation to educators about the power of sketchnoting.  @SunniBrownInk , who was one of the contributors to the gamestorming book put me onto the idea and it integrated well with my experience and training as an educator.

Gamestorming tool - The empathy map

The bottom line: people learn and work best by using stories and games to make meaning.  There is plenty of peer-reviewed scholarly evidence to support this claim, but I am focusing on what I have experienced in my long life as a teacher and my emerging life as a facilitator.  This is what I have learned by using the techniques of gamestorming with a variety of audiences since last year at this time:


  1. Age is just a number.  Some worry when I’m pitching a gamestorm-style session that adult participants will find the activities juvenile and pointless.  And I will admit, I have worried that myself in my preparations.  What I have discovered, however, is that any session can suffer from this affliction – gamestormed or not!  The concern is not that the activities are intrinsically juvenile but that, without the focus on what the group is meant to be accomplish together, everything will seem like a waste of time!  So, Squiggle Birds and Draw Toast to your hearts’ content BUT make sure there is a clearly defined connection to the goals of the meeting and you won’t be able to get people to STOP squiggling birds!
  2. Gamestorming =/= “Gamification.”  Gamestorming is a low-tech, flexible way of exploring ideas in service of some purpose.  Gamification is the process of adding game mechanics to another process.  Some parts of gamestormed events might be gamified (accomplishing a task in a given amount of time, for instance) but gamestorming is not as rigid as the rules of the game – the only rule of gamestorming is to get what you need out of the people you have in the time you’ve got.  Change techniques as necessary!
  3. Gamestorming increases focus and reduces downtime.  Imagine a session where no one is on their phone!  How about a course where everyone is up, moving around, organizing complex information with their hands, talking about shared goals and making commitments to action?  It can and has happened – with gamestorming!  The best part about using these techniques is that they immediately and completely engage the participants…sometimes in spite of themselves!  


Check it out.  Better yet, TRY IT OUT!  If you are a person who is responsible for managing another group of people, the techniques of gamestorming might just work very well for you!  If you’d like some support on getting started, contact me here or on Twitter!