ToiletTrolls

Do you want to experience and enjoy more serious games with us?
Join one of our online or covid-proof physical workshops to learn how to facilitate and debrief them yourselves:


Teaser of the gameplay and instruction video on ToiletTrolls

Introduction

This is a remote serious game to lighten up the mood in current times. Our inspiration for this was a combination of Team3 (a physical building & party game) and the toilet paper run that happened when the Corona-virus hit Europe and the Americas.

You can just play & enjoy it to get some laughter. You can also do a debrief afterwards to turn it into a serious game. Debrief topics are around communication & common language, collaboration and self-organization.

Boundaries

  • Players: 3 – many (scales easily to bigger groups by dividing them or observing the short rounds, advised no more than 5 per group if playing)
  • 5 mins intro
  • 15 mins game time (each round takes max 3 mins, which is enough is you only play it as an energizer)
  • 15 mins relief & debrief
  • At least one player needs 10 Toilet paper rolls and be able to sit far enough from their camera so others can see 4 rolls wide and 4 rolls high, see picture below (only these people can play the Builder)
  • A timer for 3 minutes (phone timer will do)
  • A video conferencing tool in which every participant is able to share their screen
Others only need to see 4 rolls horizontally and 4 rolls vertically

Invite & Game World

Welcome to Monkey Society, of which you are an honored member. Monkey Society is at the start of a great breakthrough in their civilization; they call it “Project Management!”
You are one of the first chosen to experiment with this innovation. The way it looks like is you form really small & nimble teams of just three people with complementary roles.

Rules & Materials

Divide the three roles (not the rolls):

  • The Architect (speaks no evil > can mute their microphone online)
    [Starting condition: Only role who may click this link to get a Blueprint. Be careful to not refresh the link halfway, as it will give another random structure!]
    The Architect has a grand Structure in their head. The Architect excels at overseeing the bigger picture and constructing it in the mind, but communicating about it not so much, so this role can’t speak.
    They must use gestures (like body and hand signals, facial expressions, clapping and other non-verbal forms of communication) to transfer instructions to the Project Manager. It is not allowed to point at things or to use items.
  • The Project Manager (hears no evil > can turn down their volume online)
    [Starting condition: They guide the Budget, by setting a timer for three minutes per round!]
    The Project Manager is kick-ass at connecting people to create great things, but doesn’t want to hear any bad news and as such became a bad listener. That means this role can’t hear.
    They watch the Architect, interpret their gestures, and then speak to the Builder to transfer the instructions needed to build this grand Structure.
  • The Builder (see no evil > can turn off or turn away their screen online)
    [Starting condition: They need 10 Toilet paper rolls and be able to sit far enough from the camera so 4 rolls horizontally & vertically are visible on their screen.
    The Builder is a true craftsmonkey and has the skills needed to raise the grand Structure. They listen to the spoken hints of the Project Manager and build the structure based on that. They get fully absorbed in building and at the same time are far removed from customers and the vision. So this role can’t see the bigger picture.
*This is Team3, the game that inspired us to craft this game.

So in summary:

1) The Architect clicks this link to get a Blueprint
2) The Project Manager sets a timer for 3 minutes
Then repeat the following steps till the end of round
3) The Architect gestures instructions to the Project Manager
4) The Project Manager observes, interprets and speaks out instructions to the Builder
5)The Builder listens carefully and then creates (part of) the intended Structure

Just start without any discussion up front, except for clarifying questions about the roles and gameplay.

Goal

The goal is to have the Builder physically build the Blueprint that only the Architect sees within the Budget of three minutes.
this means a round can end in two ways;
A) The Budget is fully used up (three minutes have passed) and the structure is not finished yet > Project failed… 🙁
B) The Structure is completed and looks exactly like the Blueprint before time is up > Project successful! 😀

When the round is over, the Architect turns on their microphone again and shares their screen so everyone can see the Blueprint.
Optional: No matter if the project failed or was a success, everyone makes monkey sounds and gestures to celebrate!

You can leave it at one round as a quick energizer, or decide to play more rounds. When you play more rounds:
– Other players can switch in and out
– It’s better if you should rotate the roles (remember the Builder needs to have 10 Toilet paper rolls and some distance from their camera)
– You can decide if you want to allow a minute to retrospect to do better the next round

Screenshot of the labels this game has, most of which are debrief topics

Relief & Debrief

First help the players blow off some steam by asking how it was and how they felt. After the energy has calmed a bit, continue with the debrief.

The core debrief topics we see in this serious game are around:
Communication
Example questions: How was communication established? How did people communicate; from their own perspective or from that of the receiver? Was a certain jargon or were abbreviations introduced and picked up? Where did you observe miscommunication creep in? How quick were the players to pick this up and change their communication?
Collaboration
Example questions: Did you see (exaggerated) behavior of team members they normally also display? How did this effect you? Was a good collaboration set up and adjusted between two players? Was it really improved upon after the first round and how? Where did you observe unexpected interactions? What metaphors might there be in not being able to speak, hear or see? Can we replace these with totally different skills in our context? What was the effect of T-shaping (switching roles)?
Self-organization & Leadership
Example questions: How did the players organize themselves? When did we observe acts of leadership? Did players agree on ‘communication standards’ from the previous round or did they try to reinvent it? What happened then and did this help the team improve or did their performance decline?

If it doesn’t already come up during the topic questions, you can even make the insights more explicit by asking the follow-up question: “What does this remind you of in your daily job?”

Depending on how you facilitate it or the experience of the players, some other topics might surface. Think on topics how players Experiment & Retrospect or going deeper on Association & Interpretation. Maybe things happen that uncover more about Trust & Transparency in the team. Remember to not ‘force’ these insight onto the players, but really let them emerge from what happened in the game world.


We hope you enjoy playing this game and we would love to receive your feedback. This can be either appreciative or constructive, both are welcome!
If you want more of this or would like to support our efforts and contributions to the serious gaming community, please consider becoming our Patron. You help us create more content like this for the monthly prize of buying us a drink, lunch or more in return for digital goodies or exclusives! Pledge here: https://www.patreon.com/theseriousgamers