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The playground for this activity needs to be prepared in advance by the facilitator. It needs to be arranged similarly to the model presented below. Better make sure that the workshop facility provides enough room for the playground before scheduling it.
- To explore cooperation and competition between groups;
- To explore how the use of threats affects cooperation and competition.
At least 1 hour
It works better with at least 8 participants.
- Flip chart papers;
- Two dices;
- 14 yellow A4 papers, 14 green A4 papers, 4 blue A4 papers;
- Masking tape;
- A coloured cloth to distinguish the two teams - ex. yellow and green hats (optional); or a funny item such as a plate to remind that each participant is a truck;
- A box of chocolates.
I) Divide the plenary in two teams (Green Team and Yellow Team) and invite them to position respectively at the Yellow and Green Start squares (see playground set up below).
II) Explain the game:
- Yellow and Green teams are two trucking companies. Each participant represents a truck.
- Your goal as a trucking company is to maximise your profit. You will do so by moving as many trucks as possible from your Start Box to your Destination Box. Each truck that gets to destination scores 1 point. EACH TEAM WILL GET A CHOCOLATE FOR EACH POINT GAINED.
- To get to your Destination Boxes you can choose between two alternative roads: a long road and a short one. The long road is 12kms (or 12 steps, or coloured boxes), the short one is 6kms.
- To move through these roads each team will take turns in rolling a dice (ex. when the dice shows 3 a truck advances 3kms, e.g. 3 boxes).
- There is a problem: the short roads of both Yellow and Green teams meet on the Blue road (see below playground set up). This is a one-lane road: only one truck at a time can pass. If a Yellow and Green truck meet head to head on it, neither could proceed and one truck could back up and take the longer road instead (or wait for the other to pass).
- After arriving at destination each truck can jump back at the start and be ready to play again.
- At every turn, when rolling the dice each team can decide whether to move a truck that is already on the road or start a new one. Each team can have more trucks on the road and decide which to move.
- Every truck can be moved in both directions (ex. if two trucks meet on the Blue road and Green Team decides to back up, they can roll the dice and move their truck back correspondently).
III) Play a few demonstrative rounds in order to help participants understand the game.
IV) Assign a time limit and start the game. Help participants if needed, but do not suggest any “best strategy” for the play.
V) Stop the play when the time is over. Check the scores and distribute as many chocolate candies as points to each team – celebrate the moment.
When originally designed (see below), the experiment analysed how the players’ behaviour would change if teams were allowed to communicate to each other or not. To introduce this variable you can allow truck blocking each other head to head to talk and negotiate who should back up. Or not, you can also impose as a rule that trucks of different teams cannot talk to each other.
The following questions are not normative. You can use these and/or other questions as the situation and your judgement requires.
How do you feel?
- How do you feel about this activity?
- How do you feel about how your team played?
- How do you feel about your team mates?
- How do you feel about the other team?
- How do you feel about how the other team played?
- What happened when you started the game?
- How was your strategy at the beginning?
- How was the other team’s strategy in your opinion?
- What happened when two trucks met head to head on the Blue Road?
- Who backed up? Why?
- What kind of reward did the team(s) that backed up get?
What have you learned?
- What have you learned from this activity?
- What strategy (would have) worked best in order to maximise your profit?
- What tends to happen in a situation like this game?
- To what extent people tend to be confrontational in a situation such as this game?
- How the way you played was influenced by assumptions/expectations about what the other team would do? Can you qualify these expectations/assumptions?
- What does it take to favour cooperation?
- How would you define winning in this game? Then, who won?
How does this relate?
- How does this game relate to the real world?
- Can you see it applied to likely situations in your work place (or family, community)? Could you describe these situations?
- Can you make examples of situations you have witnessed or been through that seem connected to the dynamics of this game?
- What tends to happen in real life when people are confronted with situations similar to the one depicted in this game?
- What if the trucks of one team were bigger than the other’s and could win their way on the one-lane road?
- What if the rules of the game established that to win you had to get more points than your adversary?
- What if one (or both) teams could control a gate on the blue road that, when closed, would block trucks of the other team?
- What if instead of chocolate you would get a 10 EUR bill for each point scored?
- What if one of the teams had more trucks than the other?
- What if the long road of one team was longer the long road of the other?
- How would you play differently if you were to play again?
- What suggestions would you give to other people who are going to play the game?
- How would you change the game in order to make it more cooperative? (more competitive?)
- How would you behave differently in situations that you tend to face in real life?
The framework for this activity was originally an experiment conducted in 1962 by Deutsch and Krauss, and since replicated under a variety of experimental conditions. Originally, pairs of subject participated in a simple electronic trucking game were they could not see the player of the other trucking company, but only observe her moves on the screen. Communication among players was introduced as a variable, to observe how this would change the players’ behaviour. The experiment explored also how the use of threats would influence cooperation and competition - substantiated in controlling gates on the one-lane road in order to block the other company’s trucks. The experiment is originally described in xxxxx. You can find references to the experiment also in xxxxx.
Playground set up
- To add image of playground set up ***