What's in a game? Community.
The world likes to complicate very straightforward matters. Maybe it's due to our need for self-importance or tendency to go full tilt on just about everything we're dealing with. The simple truth is this - so many things are just that, simple. We're all humans on planet earth wanting to connect, wanting people to see us, wanting to engage, in our own way, and on varying levels.
So, what does that have to do with games? On the surface, nothing. But dig a little deeper...everything.
I've never been one to play games. Literally and figuratively :-). I never liked them as they were too competitive, I was horrible at them, and honestly, they caused me anxiety. I didn't want to showcase things I was not good at. As I've grown older, I've come to embrace and appreciate playing. When you come to have fun, there's so much that can blossom out of that experience.
Every month, the Mosaic Forum conducts a workshop at a local homeless shelter. Financial literacy housed in gameplay. With the help of the residents, we are uncovering what challenges they encounter most, what they want to learn about, and the most engaging ways to deliver that information.
This didn't happen immediately. After several months of consistently showing up, the outcome was a growing level of trust, respect, and openness. We were welcomed as part of the community. We liked each other. We were able to talk to one another and began to share things. We had good times together, talking and eating pizza, but one night was different. It was as if everyone let their guard down. They decided to be who they are.
It was crazy... like you chose to be who you are, but then you didn't have to think about it. You were you. We were so involved in the gameplay. So wanting to enjoy and meet the criteria of the game. To understand it. If someone didn't understand, they said with no fear of looking like the one who didn't get it, "Hey, you know what? I'm not getting this." But then it was like, okay, yeah, some of us aren't getting this. Let's have it one more time."
And we got it. We started knowing each other on yet another level. Getting a feel for and appreciating one another. We had the most awesome time that ended in fist bumps all around. These folks are in a challenging situation. They are in the midst of circumstances that cause them to want to disengage. But we came together to share some moments. Those moments have layered for useful purpose - the possibility that we can indeed all get along. We just need to find our common ground and bring our real selves to the table.
Gameplay...who would've thunk it?