S&G Summer Games Day – Puzzles & Polaroids at the British Museum

[This post was originally published in September 2012 on the blog of Stubble & Glasses, which sadly no longer exists.]

By day I’m a Senior Analyst at Stubble & Glasses, but outside of work you’re most likely to find me making tabletop/party/pervasive games as part of Octopus Fruitbat. So when S&G wanted a game-based away-day, Octopus Fruitbat was asked to come up with something.

We knew we wanted something that involved getting everyone out of the office, that encouraged teamwork, and that gave everyone a feeling of achievement at the end.

The game we came up with combined elements from a few others Octopus Fruitbat had run in the past:

  • The game would be set in the British Museum
  • Teams would first solve British-Museum-themed-puzzles
  • The solution to each puzzle would be a room number
  • In that room, the team would take an instant photo with a Fuji Instax camera…
  • … and the photo had to feature the team executing one of the given creative challenges (things like ‘a scene from a fairy tale’)
  • Points were awarded for correct room numbers and creative challenges successfully met
  • Bonus points were awarded for photos that combined elements of the room with the creative challenge, or that were just plain awesome

As a games designer and analyst, I’m particularly interested in the way teams are structured and balanced, and in this case I had a lot of data to work with – individual preferences for team-mates, relative strength in puzzles vs creativity, teamworking style, and competitiveness. Based on this, I had to come up with three evenly-matched teams of 4 (which is actually much harder than, say, eight teams of 5).

On the day, each team member was secretly told their team’s greeting (high-five, fist-bump, or shake-hands), and they then attempted their greetings with one another until they discovered their team-mates. I’m going to crudely caricature each team as follows:

  • Team High-Five: The Extroverts
  • Team Fist-Bump: A mini version of Stubble & Glasses (Director, PA, Tech, Analyst)
  • Team Shake-Hands: The Introverts

Who would win?

Team Fist-Bump / Mini-S&G ran into some trouble with a couple of the puzzles, which ultimately put them out of the running – but they did produce my favourite photo from the whole day, the world’s most epic fist-bump:

So it came down to Introverts vs Extroverts:

It was close, with a single point separating the two in the final reckoning, but with their commitment for some particularly insane/ambitious photos, the extroverts clinched it:

The winning team won cupcakes, but special (chocolate) gold medals were awarded for individual achievement, such as Benexecuting a perfect photobomb:

What did we learn?

The format seemed to be successful – everyone really did get to contribute something, and every team had quite a few photos they could be proud of. And actually, team Mini-S&G were only one point behind the Introverts in the end, so the team balancing seemed to work.

But what should we do next time? Given an almost entirely flawless performance in puzzles (as we might have expected from a bunch of analysts), and with photo creativity now well tested, perhaps it’s time for something else entirely…

Tim Mannveille (@metatim), writing as part of @OctopusFruitbat