Focus Games director Andy Yeoman shares his thoughts on facilitated and unfacilitated approaches to game based learning:
'Serious' board games are becoming increasingly popular for training, education and engagement. This is great because we develop 'serious' board games. Other people also develop them and it's worth highlighting the resources needed to support different 'models'. I hope 3 questions will help illuminate my point:
1. Does the game require a facilitator to run it?
2. Is the game an integral part of a larger facilitated workshop?
3. Or, can the game be used in the workplace without any support?
The cost and resourcing implications for 1 and 2 are not the same as 3. If a game needs external support or certified internal facilitators you're buying more than a game. The cost of the actual game may be small relative to the cost of the support needed to play it. You may not be able to buy the game without the support. This model may also limit the number of people in an organisation who get to play the game, because it costs quite a lot.
On the other hand, using games that don't need external support and that are managed by the players will have fewer overheads, may reach more people and give players a sense of control and ownership over decisions they make because they're not being told what to think by a facilitator.
Facilitated games can be very effective and facilitators are sometimes essential but this isn't the only way of using 'serious' board games.