More Than “Just” Fun & Games
Writer and game designer David Kuelzwants you to know it’s OK—a great idea, even—to introduce gaming to your office.
The corporate world is rapidly discovering what avid gamers have always known: The skills learned from playing video games translate to the workplace. Beneath the slick surface of flashy explosions and irritated birds, games teach problem-solving skills and how to communicate with your team. If you’re looking to do some team building (and have a good time, to boot) here are five great games to play.
Overcooked and Overcooked 2
In Overcooked and its sequel, a team of two to four people works together to run the kitchen of a cartoony restaurant. The catch? Each new level, your restaurant is in a volcano, or in space, or split between two trucks that are actively driving down the highway at different speeds. The layout of each kitchen is so absurd that it’s impossible to succeed without designing an intelligent workflow: Maria can prep ingredients, hand them off to Max to cook, then Alisha can plate and serve while Jared blocks the fireballs spewing from the maw of the onion beast. A moment of confusion could disrupt the fragile workflow and throw the entire kitchen into chaos, so timing and organization are vital.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes fulfills your lifelong dream/nightmare of defusing a bomb, just like in the movies! One player acts as the bomb technician while everyone else plays as “experts” who try to decipher the bomb’s deliberately obtuse manual…but the technician is the only one who can see the bomb, and the experts are the only ones who look at the manual. In order to not explode, all parties need to quickly clearly share information with each other. As the technician describes the bomb, the experts deduce what to do about it. Does the bomb’s serial number have any vowels in it? Do you mean the word “you,” or the letter “u”? Talk fast, but be specific—you don’t want to cut the wrong wire.
In Overwatch, two teams battle it out, sometimes to guard a train, sometimes to control an area. On the surface, it’s colorful, wacky, and chaotic, but at its highest level Overwatch is a game of strategy and adaptability. Each of the 30 playable heroes has outrageous strengths, but in rock-paper-scissors fashion, every character is weak against other members of the roster. On top of that, anyone can swap heroes at any point. A clever team might start out losing the match, but they’re often able to identify the source of their failure and swap heroes to something more effective against the enemy’s tactics. The winners of Overwatch are the teams who can experience a setback, stay positive, regroup, and then adapt to new strategies faster than their opponents can keep up.
Death Squared is like if a Rubik’s Cube had babies with an escape room, and then someone made a video game about it. Four players need to navigate a complex, puzzle-heavy environment in order to move on to the next level. Normally not too difficult, except for the fact that one wrong move could get your friend impaled by spikes or sliced in two by lasers. Solving each level requires experimentation and, usually, some trial and error, but progress is only made when a team can coordinate. Attempts in which team members work individually usually end in death…squared.
Forbidden Island is the only board game on our list, but it’s here for good reason: It’s an ever-evolving game of communal decision-making. Two to four players team up to gather treasure from the titular island before it sinks into the ocean, lost forever. The players win as a team or lose as a team, and while each player is ultimately in charge of their own turn, the game actively encourages you to ask your peers for advice. Add in the fact that, unlike the previous games on our list, Forbidden Island has no time limit, and the game quickly becomes a continuous brainstorming session. As parts of the island begin to sink, everyone is forced to contribute ideas, filter through them in a constructive way, and create a plan together.