Overview: Co-operative games require two or more players to work together. In well-designed co-operative games, players need to co-ordinate their choices and actions to maximize their ability to play the game well. Depending on the game, this can require—and offer opportunities to practice—skills such as communication, negotiation, strategic decision-making, resource optimization, or spatiotemporal awareness. At the same time, they can be engaging icebreakers.
Co-operative games can be well-suited to situations where group work is required. Group work is something that students are often asked to do but they haven’t necessarily been formally taught how to do it. While co-operative games do not replace effective training in how to work well in groups (unless the game is designed specifically to do so), they can be used to let groups practice working together as groups with reduced consequences for failure (i.e. no impact on course grade for poor performance).
Tips and Tricks:
- When using co-operative games, take time to identify the skill you would like the group to be able to practice then search for a game that highlights the use of that skill. For this, focus on the game’s mechanics not the game’s theme.
- People who are averse to competition may respond well to co-operative games. Keep in mind that some games are both co-operative and competitive (e.g. team vs. team). Also, co-operative games can still be intense if they have time limits or impose a high attentional load.
- It is a good idea to monitor teams playing co-operative games to provide feedback on group interactions and to ensure things run smoothly (e.g. watch for personality clashes).
- After a co-operative gaming session, debrief with groups to help them attend to the skills the game had them practice.
- Some co-operative video games require players to be co-located (local co-op, couch co-op). Some permit remote online play. Make sure players have access to software and equipment.
Duration: 20 – 90 minutes per session.
Continuity: Can be replayed whenever new groups are formed or when a new skill focus for group work is highlighted.
Number of players: 2+.
- Video games: Overcooked / Overcooked 2 (2-4 players), Snipperclips (2-4 players), Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (2+ players), Portal 2 (2 players).
- Board games: Codenames Duet (2-4 players), Pandemic (2-4 players), Hanabi (2-5 players).
- Other games: Scavenger hunts, Escape rooms, Theatre games.