I encountered Play14 thanks to two good friends of mine (Esther and Franc of Traico Projects) deciding to host an event in their home city of Barcelona. Here was a chance to (a) meet playful people from business, arts and education; (b) find out about the open Play14 ethos; and (c) get to explore Barcelona if time and space allowed.
Barcelona itself was in an edgy mood of course, but the people and demonstrations I encountered across the city were so friendly and curious to step into the unknown, that they set a great playful-yet-serious backdrop to the event. Play14 is based on the ‘open space’ unconference model, where participants propose sessions to create a programme each day, and then decide what they want to join in with. We were based in a fabulous space in the heart of Barcelona, just down from the stunning Sagrada Familia, with two large rooms and two small breakout spaces.
Play14 also has its own overriding ethos, which Yann Gensollen (one of the founders) was there to introduce – and this merged with the open space approach perfectly to create an open, sharing, curious and collaborative atmosphere.
Over the three days I collected many ideas for ice-breaking, team-building and reflective activities (littered between and in the session programme), explored the use of ‘escape’ games for student training, played and discussed The Ball Point Game (see it in action) for management training, used my touch and taste only to explore an alien world, and created shoe towers to harness creativity.
I also playtested a new game I’ve designed to test the effectiveness of group sizes from one to 16 working on a common aim: Tiny Epic Battles. It worked really well (with evil triumphing good both times in epic fashion), but what was brilliant was having several colleagues there who I could discuss the gameplay and approach with: and I’ll be following this up with one of them who saw potential for its use in behavioural psychology. More news on this in the coming months.
We became such a close knit team straight away, and so headed out together in the evenings for meals and more playful discussions: allowing me to get a good taste of the city too, and marvel at Gaudi’s contribution to the landscape. All in all it was a really useful and interesting trip, and I fulfilled all three of my aims. Thank you everyone at Play14, and particularly Esther, Franc and Yann for being such perfect playful hosts.