Here at Forrester, over the past 18 months, we’ve been helping customers build and operate more effectively in hybrid working and remote working environments. However, there remained a gap — team building. One of the inevitable side effects of remote work is loss of emergent and informal interactions. So, we’ve been looking for ways to help remedy this and are looking at cooperative, creative video games to supplement this loss in organizations. To test this ourselves, we played Minecraft together.
Here are some of the immediate learnings from this activity:
- Plan time and a good space for learning. Together, we had a mix of both experienced PC video game players, as well as folks who had never used “WASD” to control a character before. Make sure to set up a safe learning environment to allow all players to get comfortable, and plan on having the first session (in our case an hour and a half) oriented around learning the mechanics. Psychological safety should be a top priority of this initiative.
- Pick a cooperative game. You don’t need to choose Minecraft for this outing, but make sure you’re choosing a cooperative, noncompetitive game. (Eco and Factorio were also considered.)
- Set a clear objective and set of tasks for players to accomplish. In our game, we had a vague objective but not a lot of details in how to accomplish this. Making sure to have a few steps for people to follow is critical to ensure alignment, especially when coordinating multiple teams.
- Assign experienced and passionate players to help jump-start collaboration. A side effect of cooperative and creative games is that oftentimes they’re player driven. There may be overarching objectives, but how you get there is often self-propelled. Have at least one experienced player embedded with any group to give direction and navigate through the learning curves (e.g., how do you make candles, how do you craft picks, what are the basics of mining, etc.).
- Put aside time for troubleshooting. All of our players had some problem initially installing/logging into Minecraft on Windows 10. Ensure that you have someone dedicated to helping people figure out how to get things running. Some common pain points we had with getting Minecraft running:
- You cannot use work emails to redeem game codes — ensure players are comfortable having personal emails linked to their work laptop.
- Make sure everyone can access the Windows 10 store — and that you’re logged into both your work and personal accounts.
- Certain OS configurations may have the Xbox app disabled or uninstalled — this is used for authentication in the game. This caused a few players to be unable to join even after a few hours of troubleshooting.
- Realms, or the easy-to-use hosting service for Minecraft servers, has a limit of 11 players.
All in all, the experiment was a success, with some room for learning. From the players:
- “I thought it was very fun and a very refreshing change from the day to day.”
- “I thought the gaming event was a lot of fun, and I would definitely join it again!”
- “It beats a team outing to Topgolf.”
We will be publishing a full report on “Build Better Teams By Playing Video Games At Work” in the near future, but if you’re interested in further details in the meantime, please reach out to us by inquiry (firstname.lastname@example.org)!