Team skills through video games

Four explorers spent an hour exam­ining ocean­side ruins, nav­i­gating com­pli­cated mazes and solving puzzles.

But they weren’t in some far­away loca­tion. Instead, teams of four clus­tered at work­sta­tions in a Ryder Hall com­puter lab, working together on a team-​​building com­puter game in “Game-​​based Entre­pre­neur­ship Training.” The ses­sion took place on Wednesday as part of the Center for Research Inno­va­tion’s Global Entre­pre­neur­ship Week.

“Some­thing like this is great because it gets people inter­acting in ways they might not have oth­er­wise ever done,” said Casper Harteveld, the workshop’s leader and assis­tant pro­fessor of game design and inter­ac­tive media in the Col­lege of Arts, Media and Design. “The idea behind the game is to get people to work in areas like com­mu­ni­ca­tion and problem solving without it feeling like some formal training session.”

Harteveld noted that “TeamUp” was devel­oped by a group of Dutch stu­dents to foster com­mu­ni­ca­tion and problem-​​solving skills, which, he added, are of par­tic­ular impor­tance in busi­ness and entre­pre­neur­ship. Lacking a formal hier­archy or set instruc­tions, players started to slip into defined roles as leaders or problem solvers.

Team mem­bers worked at sep­a­rate com­puter sta­tions and were allowed to speak to one another but unable to take notes or oth­er­wise com­mu­ni­cate. The team began to quickly solve chal­lenges, which were pre­sented without instruc­tions and with lim­ited clues.

“It’s great because you have to talk to each other,” said Adam Kassin, a staff member in the North­eastern Center for the Arts who par­tic­i­pated in the ses­sion. “You’re doing some­thing inter­esting, which isn’t always the case in group train­ings, where you are often doing trust falls but aren’t actu­ally learning anything.”

Each chal­lenge required all four players to work together, ensuring that a strag­gler wasn’t falling too far behind or failing to com­plete a task.

“Someone’s skills may be behind the team’s, but that’s often the case in real life, too,” Harteveld said. “And the rest of the team has to find a way to make sure that person can par­tic­i­pate and con­tribute or else nothing can move for­ward, in the game or in a real work environment.”

Other events on Thursday included an open house for IDEA, Northeastern’s ven­ture accel­er­ator, and ses­sions in intel­lec­tual prop­ertyopen-​​source tech­nolo­gies and social busi­nesses. Mem­bers of the North­eastern Entre­pre­neurs Club gath­ered ideas about global entre­pre­neur­ship and tried to set a world record for the number of times a light was switched on and off on Cen­ten­nial Common, prompting passersby to share their “bright idea.”

“There is no record yet,” said Diana Ravens­bergen, a third-​​year mar­keting and finance major on the E-club’s exec­u­tive board. “But we’re hoping to create one here today. That’s what entre­pre­neur­ship is, after all.”