Youth work and games Print

"You can learn more about a man in an hour of play than in a year of conversation." 

Playing games is an important part of our social and mental development. When young people are engaged in the learning process, they learn and retain more. Engagement can come trough emotion, relaxation, and especially through fun. Games are a strong motivating and engaging factor. Some people assume that playing games is trivial and insignificant. In fact, according to the statements of many scientists play has a deep biological, evolutionarily important function, which is in close relation to learning.

Why games engage us?

This powerful force stems first from the fact that they are a form of fun and play, and second from a combination of key structural elements of games:

:: Games are a form of fun. That gives us enjoyment and pleasure.
:: Games are form of play. That gives us intense and passionate involvement.
:: Games have rules. That gives us structure.
:: Games have goals. That gives us motivation.
:: Games are interactive. That gives us doing.
:: Games are adaptive. That gives us flow.
:: Games have outcomes and feedback. That gives us learning.
:: Games have win states. That gives us ego gratification.
:: Games have conflict/competition/challenge/opposition. That gives us
:: Games have problem solving. That sparks our creativity.
:: Games have interaction. That gives us social groups.
:: Games have representation and story. That gives us emotion.

Nothing else provides all of these. Books and movies have many of these characteristics, but they are not interactive, and are typically experienced alone. Non-entertainment games are highly social, highly interactive experiences. Immediate and relevant feedback and positive reinforcement are additional keys to effective learning.

Types of traditional non-entertainment games:

:: ice-breaking games - These games are especially well-suited for the very beginning of youth trainings, exchanges or other events. The object of these games is to get everyone comfortable and to have some fun.

:: energizers - Energisers can be useful to set a mood or create an atmosphere, to wake people up before or during an activity and to  introduce a topic in a light-hearted way.

:: brainstorming - Brainstorming can be done either individually or in a group. It is an organized approach for producing ideas. The key to brainstorming is not to interrupt the thought process.

:: role-play games - The role play is an active learning method, based on exploring the experience of the participants, by giving them a scenario, where each person in the group has a particular role to play. The main point of it is to discuss and to learn more from one’s own experience and that of others.

:: simulation games - The simulation game experience is a model of reality in which the potential exists for players to test boundaries and discover facets of themselves they never knew before.

:: team-building games -These games aim to establish trust in the team.

:: quizzes - A short oral or written test.