Game On! TEDActive Takes on a Game Creation Challenge

In addition to the Giant Swish game, I led a Game Creation Challenge during the TEDActive pre-conference activities.  As the name implies, this TED conference stresses active learning through hands-on collaboration and creation.  As someone whose life is devoted to promoting the value of hands-on play and exploration, this was a perfect venue to push the envelope and try something new and fun!

I designed a workshop to capitalize on the fun of game play and to explore the ways gamification can make play richer and more intentional.  Gamification is the application of game elements to routine tasks with the goal of changing behavior, and it can be a powerful way to get people to do things they otherwise wouldn’t want or think to do.  I wanted to explore what can happen when you take a behavior people love – like play – and tweak the experience to ensure a particular learning is stressed.

For more on gamification, see great examples by IDEO in this post!

As my workshop was lead-up to an intense week of active collaboration, I wanted to craft an experience that would foster the values of TEDActive and encourage communication and focus through play.  I identified two powerful skills to target:

  • Improving Collaboration
  • Harnessing Competitive Drive, that force that pushes us to be better, faster, smarter, stronger

Here’s how it went down:

Participants formed 5 teams.  Teams had 30 minutes to design a creative timed challenge using a range of materials to spark creativity.  I provided prompts and everything from traffic cones to Scrabble tiles to musical instruments to get the juices flowing!

The Challenges that emerged were incredibly creative and SO diverse!  I’ve compiled them into a booklet which you can download here… Several participants suggested that, with a few drinks, this could be the ideal unofficial TEDActive Late Night Games Guide, but I leave it to you to decide when and where to try these out for yourself!

Download the Unofficial TEDActive Games Guide – 2012.doc

While we began by creating Challenges (not games), step 2 was to “gamify” them, bringing them together to create a master game.

During Competition, Teams rotated through challenges, working together to complete each in the fastest time.

Score sheets showed how other teams had done and served as a powerful as a kick in the pants to push harder and be faster.  The team that completed all 4 new challenges in the shortest TOTAL time was our winner!

I had such fun creating this workshop, but the real excitement stemmed from the conversations it sparked among participants on the power of play… an “idea worth spreading” that surfaced in discussions throughout the week!  See more photos of the workshop in action below or by clicking here.


 Photos courtesy of Aaron Sylvan, who managed to play AND photograph the fun!

6 thoughts on “Game On! TEDActive Takes on a Game Creation Challenge

  1. Danny Grubb

    This looks like a ton of fun. I love watching TED talks and so do a lot of my friends. I think I just figured out what we’re doing this weekend. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Charlotte Post author

    Thrilled to hear this sparked some fun new ideas for you Danny – I’d love to see what you came up with!

  3. Will


    That challenge was awesome! It was super fun and inspiring working with such amazing people. I’m in for the next one! If you’re looking for anyone, I’d be willing to do this full-time….


  4. Charlotte Post author

    Aliaksandr & Will – You two were fantastic sports, thank goodness I had a room full of grown-up kids who embraced the playfulness and ran with it.. I can imagine this playing out much differently with a more reserved crowd :)

    Glad to have sparked your creativity – and would love to stage a rematch any day!

    – Charlotte

  5. Laurel Wilson

    Charlotte, that was a Winning Day! Thanks for the fun. I have a cluster a great pics from our game challenge. Is there a place you’d like them posted or sent? — laurel

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