How Playtime Will Lead to Your Best Creative Ideas
Brainstorming sessions are an invaluable tool at Reliant Studios when coming up with our best creative ideas. But early on, we learned that something had to be done to help our team switch out of “work” mode and into “creative” mode; thus, game playing was born!
Why play games?
Creative games stimulate the same areas of the brain that your team will be using to do some creative problem solving or brainstorming. The activity gets the mind warmed up and ready to sprout amazing ideas.
We’ve also found that playing games is an effective icebreaker. It loosens everyone up and takes the pressure off the situation at hand — we remember that this type of work is actually fun and enjoyable! And while competitive spirits may flare up during the game, we’d much rather have a little fire going into a freewheeling whiteboard session than apathy.
Best Practices to Follow
Here are some best practices we’ve developed at Reliant to keep game time purposeful and productive.
- Plan for 10-15 minutes of game time at the beginning of your meeting. At first, you may be hesitant to give up this time when you could be doing “real work.” Trust us, the increased productivity in the meeting to follow will more than make up for the time you spent playing the game.
- Be sure to clearly explain the rules of the game you’re playing. Keep it simple. You’ll become more efficient at this step (or can even eliminate it) as you start repeating games.
- As the leader, you’ll have to be the disciplined one that has to end the game after the allotted time. Leave your team wanting more; they’ll actually start looking forward to your meetings!
- Move into the meeting immediately after ending the game. Make your meeting feel like an extension of the game. This will keep your team “in the zone” with the creative sections of their brain.
What games should we play?
The key in choosing effective right-brain-stimulating games is to think of those that require creative problem solving skills. It’s helpful to have a bucket of games that you rotate through to keep things interesting. Here’s a short list of some that we’ve found effective:
This one is really just a “packaged” version of charades. The classic party game actually stretches creative thinking just as much as it inspires rolling-on-the-floor laughter. If you’d rather not make up your own rules or come up with all the clues, use Guesstures.
We typically structure this just like charades, only people must draw the clue instead of act it out. While your own whiteboard usually works just fine for this, you can always buy the official packaged version if you’ve got the money to spend.
If you’re looking for the simplest and quickest game to play on this list, this classic do-anything-you-can-to-get-your-team-to-guess-the-clue-before-time-runs-out is your best option. Here’s a link to the high-tech electronic version.
If you’ve never played Scattergories, I won’t go into a detailed rule explanation, but this game specifically encourages people to think of solutions that no one else in the room will think of. The benefits of this mind-stretching game are obvious as you transition into a brainstorming session. We typically play 2-3 rounds.
We’ve found game-playing to be an indispensable component of our creative process. I think you’ll agree once you give it a shot!
Solo Riders: Even if you’re not working with a team, you can still play a game on your own! Some of our favorite phone apps include: Bonza, Jigsaw Puzzle and even Solitaire. They stretch your mind to think of solutions in unique ways — and that’s exactly what you’ll want to be doing in your creative sessions!