Tiltfactor Game Night at Tuck: Fun and Games (In Between the Academics)

Posted on Fri, November 01, 2013 by Carole Gaudet.

Tuck students spend an evening -- and some awkward moments -- testing a new product from Dartmouth's game design lab

by Hanna Smith, Center for Business & Society Program Administrator

One of the great aspects of the Tuck community is that all students are by extension part of the Dartmouth Community and have access to their extensive resources/centers. This fall, the Center for Business & Society partnered for the second year with Tiltfactor, the College’s innovative game research lab. Tiltfactor’s work is centered on critical play, an approach that uses games and play to investigate and explain ideas. Outcomes from the lab's work range from scholarly papers and conference presentations to video games, urban games, board games, and performances.

On October 29, 2013, Tiltfactor’s team led by Geoff Kauffman came to Tuck to test one of their new games, “Awkward Moment at Work!” 10 Tuck students broke into two teams under the supervision of Tiltfactor staff to play the game. Students enjoyed light hors d'oeuvres and wine while playing, breaking up a typical Tuesday of classes and studying. 

Similar in process to Apples to Apples or the edgier Cards Against Humanity, the game delves into work situations and asks players to select reactions based on awkward work ‘moments.’ While the game provided many laughs, it struck a serious cord as it brought up issues of gender, race, ethnicity/culture, religion, age, sexuality, etc. based on work situations. Some reactions were humorous, like imagining an impromptu dance party at work. However the game inserted reflection about biases and stereotypes found in the workplace and how we unknowingly (or knowingly) reinforce or contribute to these perceptions. Upon the game’s conclusion, the students filled out surveys to provide feedback on the game and ideas for more work situations/reactions. 

Fun was had, but more importantly, students reflected on ethical/awkward situations and utilized their work skills and experience to advance Tiltfactor’s research.