Chapter 5. Games for Opening

OPENING IS TAKING THE FIRST STEP INTO AN EMPTY SPACE. Games that open are focused on framing and describing the bounds of that space and then jumping headfirst into it. In some cases, they foster the spark that produces a large and diverse set of ideas. In other cases, they quickly map out the space in time and scope to be explored.

Some are complete exercises that stand on their own, and others are building blocks that can be composed into larger forms.

When you’re facing a blank space, the most difficult mark to make is the first one. Games that open make that mark and serve up the deluge that comes after.

3-12-3 Brainstorm


This format for brainstorming compresses the essentials of an ideation session into one short format. The numbers 3-12-3 refer to the amount of time in minutes given to each of three activities: 3 minutes for generating a pool of observations, 12 for combining those observations into rough concepts, and 3 again for presenting the concepts back to a group.

Essential to this format is strict time keeping. The “ticking clock” forces spontaneous, quick-fire decisions and doesn’t allow for overthinking. With this in mind, a group that is typically heavily measured in its thought process will benefit the most from this exercise but will also be the hardest to engage.

Given its short duration (30 minutes total for 10 participants), 3-12-3 Brainstorming can be used as an energizer before diving into a longer exercise or as a standalone, ...

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