A Game Inside a Game: Professionally Challenged

October 12, 2021 by Arjonela Dedja, Jo Kremers

When Jo Kremers created the Anti-Fraud and Corruption game, he had in mind that participants will be in front of each other, looking into one another’s eyes. Then, he didn’t think that the same game would be played online in 2021, the world being closed by the Covid-19 pandemic. In this vein, we tried to figure out how to bring the game online, as part of the learning event “Integrity in the Implementation of Structural Reforms”.

If you have no choice but to reshape and deliver a game online while striving to maintain high standards of professionalism, what would you think and do? How would you keep your audience actively engaged, bringing up new ideas, enjoying the training and recalling what they learn during the day, in such a serious field as anti-fraud and corruption? We decided to change the mode of the game. We organized the game as a competition where participants could play in teams and individually, based on the information received from the lecturer and their previous experience in anti-fraud and corruption. Here are some of our reflections on what made this event professionally successful and, at the same time, remarkably entertaining.

1. Synchronized as orchestras Yes, we were like a chamber orchestra. We invite you, while reading this paragraph, to take a minute and just think how orchestras work and how the players act in harmony. This kind of cooperation says a lot about the online “symphony” we had to play. Each of us had an important role, both individually and as a team member, and we were all crystal-clear on our parts. Picture-perfect coordination led us to effective and fun online sessions.

2. Trust As Ernest Hemingway once said, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” Our participants trusted us at first instant, throughout the application process. We invited them to join with an open mind, sharing with them the topics and the agenda, but no prior materials to read and learn in advance, so that they could prepare their mind to compete individually and in teams. The nature of the game required spontaneous participants who would be innovative, perceptive, creative, ready to be challenged and entertained. For three days in a row, they showed us continuous confidence, readiness, enthusiasm and willingness to learn and have fun.

photo-1611996575749-79a3a250f948 Photo: Unsplash

3. Not everything is what it seems We must admit that when designing the online course, we had quite some questions and hesitations. Inviting professionals in the region – without sharing with them prior reading resources – to take part in a game while being tested individually and in groups requires a lot of understanding and commitment. In addition, they had to bear with us for three days, two of them with a full day agenda from 10:00 to 15:00. Considering also that everyone is tired of online environments, this learning exercise seemed highly ambitious. Direct contact in a physical space, immediate spontaneous reactions and the ensuing discussions are important success factors of the anti-fraud game. But would it also work in an online version and setting?

4. The power of teamwork In an online situation, as a speaker, you cannot see all the participants on your small laptop screen, in addition to the slides projected on that same screen. So, it would be difficult to see or hear those first reactions. That is where the power of teamwork – key to the success of our online courses – lends a helping hand. Our team (Jo, Ivana, David and Arjonela) quickly attuned to each other and took control of the performance. In addition, the breakout room sessions and the Webex chat function contributed to a successful online implementation of both the group game and the individual game.

5. A name that makes you unique The participants were very excited to play and win. Their enthusiasm was reflected, among other things, in their ingenuity and creativity in choosing names for their teams. Names that reflected their energy and passion about strengthening integrity and fighting fraud and corruption, a real professional challenge. So, these were the teams: • Queen’s Gambit • Winners Fighter • Rain • Best Detectives • The Fraud Hunters

6. Learning is better with a slogan The game had a number of slogans, such as “to catch a fraudster, you should think like a fraudster". Or "a day without laughter is a day wasted", as humor and laughter improve memory and make it easier for us to remember information. Humor ensures that we deal with information in a more flexible way, and that we use both our left and right hemispheres when storing information. Initially, we had some doubts whether "a day without laughter is a day wasted" could be achieved in an online setting. Therefore, a tryout session was essential to become convinced that it could work. And it did. The great atmosphere during the course and post-event evaluation and feedback evidenced that.

7. Creative visualization As the human brain is very visual, one important building block for the successful face-to-face performance of the game was visualization through functional graphics, photos, videos, audio files, tools and tokens. Although we are mainly focused on a text when learning, we are actually much better at remembering pictures, particularly when we need to learn or remember something about anti-fraud and corruption, not a very sexy topic. Does that also work in an online environment, with different (possibly slow) internet connections and small screens instead of a large projection screen and professional audio? The use of functional tools and tokens as visualization elements are an essential part of the game, forming also an important element of surprise in face-to-face sessions. So, would that be possible in an online session? We had to be creative in making an online friendly version of the presentation, where the slides on the laptop screen would be clear and insightful, without tiring the eye too much. To this end, functional pictures, photos and overviews had to be cut into two or even more parts and slides, which resulted in an online version where the message came across clearly, and the character and objectives of the game were not violated.

8. The right tools and surprise elements The built-in camera in the presentation laptop was not a success. Nor was a professional external camera. But we found a great solution: the Meet-Up camera, with a fisheye effect, automatic tracking functionality and powerful Zoom activity in a room. This made it possible to use the "chainsaw", the “drone” and other essential tokens in the online version of the game. The surprise effect was just great and by no means inferior to the one achieved in face-to-face performances.

9. We were all winners We managed to come up with a very successful online edition of the “Anti-Fraud and Corruption Game” as part of the training event “Integrity in the Implementation of Structural Reforms”. As said in the evaluation given by the winner of the individual game: In my opinion, all of us were the winners, because we had the opportunity to learn something new in a very fun way. We also had to work in teams, which additionally motivated us to collaborate and learn together. We benefited from an exchange of experiences that all participants shared from their daily practices. We had the opportunity to get to know new and useful IT tools as well as how the internet and social media can make our daily work easier.

So, as a team we can say, “Mission successfully accomplished”, looking forward to the next performance. Face to face or online, success is assured. Many thanks to all our enthusiastic participants.

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