Monthly Archives

February 2020

Conquering Escape Rooms

Conquering Escape Rooms with Quick Cooperation

By | Public Blog

The idea of using escape rooms as team building activities is no longer unheard of these days. However, that doesn’t make them any less challenging and surprising for employee teams. A lot of these rooms can have puzzles that seem so different from the challenges in the workplace. How does one group quickly adapt and coordinate to face such unexpected, unfamiliar tasks?

The truth is learning to cooperate quickly isn’t necessarily about the specific details of solving every puzzle. It is about having an instinct to work effectively as a group.

Have you ever watched a team you admire (whether it’s one in sports, big business or even in fiction) and are just amazed by their capacity to coordinate themselves towards finding solutions? It is almost as if their minds are somehow linked, isn’t it?

The truth though is that you don’t need everyone to be psychic in order to accomplish such a feat. Here are three habits that can get you started:

1. Learning cooperatively.

Gathering information, processing it and then translating it into effective actions is what learning is about. Therefore, it is just a matter of having everyone do this process as a group instead of an individual.

Groups that have grown to work well together often rely on each other to gather information in a pre-defined area of any challenge. In escape rooms, it involves each person automatically looking in areas where others aren’t searching in. All the while, the group leader takes center and is prepared to receive and consolidate any information about clues and does most of the work piecing it all together.

In a way, learning cooperatively also means learning to trust that your teammates can do the job of getting information in their respective area and staying focused on bringing in your piece of the puzzle.

2. Knowing each other’s thinking styles.

If you want your group to think in sync, then you need to understand how your teammates think individually. Knowing the roles that each member plays is just the beginning.

This is where the experience of working together can be very valuable for a team’s success. When you have worked together with certain people for a while, you familiarise yourself with the sort of ideas they can come up with. For example, you can expect one person in your group to think of just doing one thing at a time, while another has a habit of seeing a clue from different angles than most.

And on the flip side, you also start developing a sense of their limits. A visual thinker may be unable to come up with an answer to a riddle, but a verbal thinker might. A group that cooperates instinctively has members who always know how to optimally arrange themselves with that in mind.

3. Affirming common goals (and values).

Lastly, one must always remember the importance of the shared goal. After all, survival is often the most basic trigger of instinct. So, if you want cooperation to be an instinct, a group must always remember that they all have a stake in the challenge.

More often than not, the reason teamwork fails is simply because at least one member of the group is not as invested in a shared goal. This can be due to a number factors such as not seeing as much value in it, or having more conflicting priorities.

That is why it is important to lay this out and get everyone on the same page. Do not wait until the middle of any challenge to find out that certain members are mismatched in terms of goals!

All in all, it certainly helps to practice working together as a team in order for members to do it as second nature. But with the above three points in mind, you already have a foundation to stand on no matter unfamiliar a challenge can be!

Come and do Elude Escape rooms

Brain Health

Good Games for Good Thinking

By | Public Blog

While there is still a lot of research needed to really show how games improve your brain, there is certainly less doubt about their ability to do so.

Thus, there is an increasing number of programs, apps and games being designed based on this research. The challenge now is to simply pick out the ones that have really made an impact when it comes to creating games and puzzles that genuinely challenge your ability to think.

The following are four examples split into two types, official brain training programs and games known for challenging puzzles that still serve as excellent mental exercise.

1. CogniFit

CogniFit is recognised as arguably one of the few brain training programs in the world that was produced from large, high-quality research. It is not so much a series of games, but rather a massive, complex collection of them designed along the lines of advanced cognitive training tools and tests.

And whether you sign up or not, it is certainly a wonderful example of just how far games have impacted our capacity to hone our mental strengths. CogniFit uses games in all areas of its work with its clients, from its assessments to its personalised programs. In fact, it’s been cited that its numerous minigames have been known to test at least 20 cognitive skills, from response time to auditory perception.

So whether you’re a game designer or a health professional, this is one brand you definitely want to keep an eye on as far as brain exercises go.

2. Lumosity

Despite some controversy around its claims, Lumosity still remains as a highly popular app that shows people how brain training games are supposed to work. It does not merely give you games to play. It also gives reminders to do the exercises daily and keeps track of your results to measure your overall performance.

And while it doesn’t seem to have as many games as CogniFit, each of the games are colorfully designed and enjoyable. They’re still aimed at exercising five important cognitive skills and it’s more widely accessible compared to higher-end brain training programs.

The app even compares your results to the rest of the player population, giving you additional insight on how well you are at a certain skill! Overall, trying it out can be a nice starting point if you think your brain needs more exercise.

3. Myst

On the video game side of things, Myst is a classic treat that has a lot of history for puzzle lovers, gamers and even escape room enthusiasts.

In Myst, you are an unnamed protagonist who find themselves sucked inside the world of the same name after opening a magic book. To escape, you have to explore a whole island that is brimming with puzzles that tie along with the overarching mystery of why you ended up there.

It is one of the earliest incarnations of the otherworldly escape room room adventure, but still shows why it’s awesome to combine immersive role-playing with brain-challenging tasks. One can even argue that it is more holistic than pure exercise, because the game challenges you to tap into both your emotional and cognitive intelligence.

4. Tetris

Believe it or not, experts have done some actual tests on the effects of this arcade classic. The results show that there is a noticeable increase in the cortex’s thickness, which is a possible sign of increased efficiency.

And from a game design perspective, it also makes a lot of sense! Tetris has long been known as a game that challenges multiple cognitive skills at once. You have hand-eye coordination, flexible planning and decision-making just to name a few.

It is a small wonder that, even today, this retro brick game continues to be a favourite time-killer for both gamer and non-gamer alike.

All in all, there could still be a lot more characteristics to consider if a game can be used as a good way to exercise your brain. However, the above examples certainly embody a lot of the desired traits so consider trying them out if you want a nice, mental exercise during your downtime.

Brain Health

The Curious Case of Brain Health and Gaming

By | Public Blog

Without a doubt, there has been a long, ongoing conversation about how games affect our brain.

Whether it’s the controversy over video games and child development, or the impact of escape room activities on employee skills, much debate and discussion has been had on the connection itself.

However, why is this so? Why do games, in particular, seem to have a tremendous impact on the brain’s health? Furthermore, why has the focus been on games and not other activities like working or studying?

The answer generally touches on three core topics that often crop up in the conversation.

1. Learning and Reward Systems

If you are ever reading or talking about why game-based learning is being considered over textbooks, then you eventually start discussing the way the brain operates when it gets rewarded for tasks.

Unlike studying or working, games tend to give more immediate rewards and the dopamine effect it has on the brain creates the motivating rush and satisfaction players feel upon success.

Granted, many argue that this aspect of instant gratification creates addictive or obsessive behaviors. However, there are also equally negative effects when pressing the brain to perform tasks while delaying gratification. Stress, anxiety and demotivation occurs when the brain is left to work too long without any hope of reward in sight. Learning is better when that hope is at a fixed, visible point.

2.  Executive Function

You may not be familiar with this term, but Executive Function generally describes all the skills that mark a properly functioning brain. They are:

  • Working Memory
  • Self-Control/Concentration
  • Flexible Planning

All of these are exercised in games via one form or another. Working memory is used when, for instance, you are piecing together clues you have found during an escape room challenge. Concentration is tested when games challenge you to perform a set number of objectives without being sidetracked. Flexible planning is often the one most exercised when playing strategy games or in activities that require various degrees of multi-tasking.

Overall, when it comes to the brain health benefits of gaming, a lot is primarily focused on these core skills as they can apply to a wide range of jobs and disciplines.

3. Neuroplasticity

Finally, you have a topic that is the focus of constant research in neuroscience: Brain plasticity.

Simply put, it is the idea that the brain’s structure can be altered by activities (hence it is ‘plastic’). While there is still a lot about it that has been fully proven, a select few programs have already shown very consistent results.

And naturally, all these programs make heavy use of game design.

Furthermore, even if they don’t result in significant performance all across the board, it is already safe to say that games certainly do have an impact on the way the brain structures itself to be better at certain tasks.

All in all, it may still be too early to tell if games can have such a drastic impact on the brain. On the other hand, it is becoming more and more evident that this connection can clearly create positive outcomes.

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