During the annual work holiday party at our house this weekend (yes we know it’s well past the holidays) I experienced some awesome and unconventional team building. My teenage sons ran out and purchased Rock Band for our Xbox 360 system and set it up during the party. Suddenly we had 4 people of varying ages and backgrounds playing and singing together.
The basic premise of this game is to live your alter-ego and play a pseudo-musical instrument and sound reasonably well. Hooked up to your TV (the larger the screen the better!) you see your colored symbols for notes stream towards you, while the accompanying music of the song plays in the background. If you miss a note, a slight off-pitch note plays, if you hit the note, the song plays as normal.
Unlike similar games such as Guitar Hero, your goal is to play with others as a team. A guitar, bass, drums and singer can all join in together for each song. Each player can play at their level of experience; Easy, Medium, Hard, Expert. But each player can fail if they miss enough notes. If a player fails, they increase the risk of the entire band failing the song – which ends quite abruptly among clanking sounds and boos from the virtual audience – not to mention the abuse from their physical band mates! Each team member has the incentive to play well to not only stay in the game themselves but to keep the band going and succeed.
So, during this evening of physics nerds, spouses, friends, and children at our house, I saw frequent examples of others stepping up to save the failed player. How does a simple computer-based game bring such diverse people physically together to achieve a single goal – where all the office ‘team building’ seminars continually miss the boat? My thoughts on this are:
First, the game appeals to a wide range of people. It’s rock & roll after all, using tools that are familiar to many of us – guitars, drums, a microphone. To play is simple – you need only a small amount of instruction before you’re rocking with the rest of the band.
Second, the physical nature of the game ties into our human nature of binding together in person. You’re sitting together in the same room, and if you’re lucky, you may have others watching you play as well. Which leads me to #3…
Third, you’re up on stage, both virtually on the TV screen, and physically in the room, while others can, and will, watch you. Who doesn’t enjoy being admired by others???!!
Fourth – it’s just plain FUN!! No wierd exercises or quirky exercises to complete – you just start playing and having fun right away!
In short, the next time your team needs a kick start for some team remediation, use Rock Band and you just might actually have some fun!
ps – anyone willing to get a Rock Band jam going at an Ann Arbor business, let me know. I’ll bring my own guitar!