A Game of Phones


You Don't Need to Use Technology to Think

When it comes to learning, technology is not always the answer. A Game of Cards is a framework for a card game that can easily be adapted to a multitude of scenarios. Unlike traditional eLearning content in which a user focuses on a screen, a card game requires users to interact and share ideas. Using a simple deck of cards, it's possible to build an effective learning tool that fosters communication and collaboration.

A Game of Cards is a card-based game structure that can be used to create learning opportunities around organizational processes or challenges based on desired learning outcomes. The simple framework was designed to facilitate idea generation and meaningful learning discussion while remaining easy to use and highly portable. The game infrastructure leverages multiple types of cards, each designed to allow problems and solutions to be identified and considered.

First designed for mLearnCon 2011 conference as A Game of Phones, the Game of Cards mechanics began as an experiment in blending digital and traditional gameplay methods in a effort to develop a simple game that could take advantage of mobile learning technologies while promoting community engagement. The concept was simple: Have two players build solutions to a common mobile learning challenge and have their solutions posted on Twitter and voted on by the community to select a winner. As design continued and playtesting began it became clear that the stumbling block of the game play was the technology which was eventually removed from the game.

The final implementation of the game was simple: A challenge card describing a mobile learning challenge was drawn from a deck and placed between players. Each player then uses their own deck to select up to two technology cards, up to two hardware cards and an optional speaker card that represented one of the speakers present at the mLearnCon conference to back the proposed solution. Once the players have built their solutions, each player puts down their hand and they begin to discuss their solutions and a winner is chosen.

For the mLearnCon conference, the Game of Cards was tailored specifically for the conference and integrated components of the conference directly through the use of the Speaker Cards. The game was distributed to all conference attendees and culminated with bracket-based competition that was judged by recognized experts in the mobile learning world.

Not only was A Game of Phones an engaging conference experience that gave attendees a valuable brainstorming tool as a takeaway, but the design was awarded "Best Business Process Tool" at the 2011 DevLearn DemoFest show later in the year. As both a game and a learning tool, the Game of Cards framework is a proven system for engaging learners.