Try or Die – the X-periment is a ~20min game for a group of 3..5 players to experience how to act under conditions of uncertainty / ambiguity. The name of the game stems from a well-known Deming quote: “Learning is not mandatory, neither is survival”. Wim Heemskerk shortened this to 3 words: “Try or die”. The game was designed, created and test-played at Play4Agile 2016 Germany.
In a pre-session before the event Jordann Gross and Wim Heemskerk started experimenting with game mechanics and were pitching it with towards a group of more people (Dave Woertman, Daniel Hommel, Gitte Klitgaard and Janny WalKer et al) who were involved in distilling the initial thought into something pitchable, contributing many thoughts and pieces such as that there should be challenge cards.
Later on during the weekend at least 20 people in 6 teams test-played it during 3 sessions.
- A table for 3..5 players and the facilitator
- a set of colorful, playful items. The Play4Agile game design kit works well, any other combination of items might also work (dices, post-its, balloons, diamonds, pens, dotvoting stickers, tape, whatever…)
- Some sheets of papers to note the iteration results, a pen
- A timer
- The Challenge Cards
|Challenge||Points||Points when it doesn’t happen|
|All team members have to participate the experiment||4|
|Make noise with all of the team in iteration||5|
|Be silent for at least 10sec||5|
|Leave the room||6|
|Sit in different position in the chair||5|
|Using an item for an unintented usage/purpose||4|
|Use something blue||4|
|Spread out the items on the table||4|
|Move the table around a bit||7|
|Breaking one item||4|
|Use something red||2|
|At least 3 experiments in one iteration||5||-10|
|Pick one person out of the group and see if he/she laughs 3 times||5||-5|
|Height of a structure >10cm||5|
|Making a circle||6|
|3 people touching each other on at the same time||7|
|All must standup at least once||10|
|Sort by size||5|
|Drop an item from the table||5|
|Collaborate with 3 people together closely||10|
|Walk a full round around the table||10|
|Pick the oddest thing on the table. One person triyng out that item.||5|
|One person stands up during the session||5||-5|
|One of the team members says the word “Agile”||8|
|Sort stuff by color||7|
|All team members have touched the table once||3|
|Use facilitator in experiment||4|
Rules and Flow
- The facilitator introduces the game, puts the items onto the table.
- The introduction should be lean and mean, not mentioning more that the game is around surviving a chaotic environment by experimentation…
- The team plays 5 iterations, each 2 minutes. The initial point score is 50, in every iteration 10 points get subtracted.
- Shuffle the challenge cards.
- The facilitator takes 3 challenge cards per iteration. The challenge cards either add or remove points.
- To the team: During the iteration it is not allowed to talk to the facilitator.
- During the iteration: Whenever one challenge is solved the facilitator lays the card onto the table reading the challenge out loud. The points are noted on a sheet of paper.
- After one iteration (2 minutes) the facilitator shows and reads the challenges not solved. Sum up the iteration points.
- The facilitator takes the next 3 cards and starts the next iteration.
- After the 5th iteration debrief with the team.
Some more background
During the first 2 iterations the team might feel a bit lost. During that phase they start to see the patterns in what is expected to earn points. They also may figure out that the challenges are independent from the used items.
It might be worth to play a second round to experience that knowing the rules and mechanics is not a guarantee to succeed.
Some sources that can be used to explain the learning of the game. Needs some more work…