It is somewhat hard to believe, but GameTruck was invented before the smartphone. That’s right. Before Apple announced their exciting new “gadget”. Apple was the maker of quirky computers and amazing music players. No one in their right mind would consider buying a phone from Apple. And then the iPhone came out in on June 29, 2007 almost a year after we had performed the first GameTruck party.
During all the amazing changes, I believe there is one reason GameTruck has remained as popular as ever. Yes, there are all the features and benefits – the convenience, the video games, and the very cool gaming theater. If you ask our customers, gamers, franchise owners, and coaches what makes a GameTruck party so special, you are likely to hear something along the lines that, “it’s the experience.”
This is a very illustrative word, experience. Not because what it says, but because of what it does not say. Isn’t everything and experience? How can you not have an experience? After spending a lot of time thinking about this, I believe the reason you hear this word over and over again, is that the structure of a GameTruck event triggers a deep seeded psychological need we all have. It is in this depth of feeling that we lose our preciseness of language.
This for example, is one of the reasons that describe food and wine tastes can be very difficult. It is not only that we might struggle with the vocabulary. Our taste buds are connected to the oldest part of our brain, the part farthest away from language. We often struggle to articular what we are experiencing. Simon Sinek in Start with Why makes a similar argument about decision making. The part of your brain that is responsible for making decisions is not the same part that is responsible for language.
He cites the example, when we talk about someone we love like a spouse and say, “She completes me.” What, are you missing a kidney or something? No. But there are emotional states that evade our ability to define them with language. I believe this is why we see the word “experience” used so often, because we are trying to describe a series of intertwined events and emotions that produce a positive memory we wish to hold onto.
What Is The Experience?
I believe that what the gamers are experiencing today, and why the party experience is so powerful for them, is that we are delivering on a profoundly human need to see and be seen by the people in our social circle.
Yuval Harari in his amazing book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind points out the incredible power of story to link humanity together. The historical record is clear that human beings have been social animals for tens of thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands) of years. Jordan B. Peterson in his latest book points out that our mental health may depend upon how successfully we are integrated into a robust social network.
With so much communication forced online or through narrow voice channels (throwing away up to 55% of the interpersonal information available in ordinary human communication). Essentially, more than half of our communication is non-verbal.
A GameTruck event does something unusual. It unites people who normally would only place separately, to play together in the same space. And one of the things we have learned during the past 12 months, is that face to face, in person human interaction has a special power to connect us.
Joseph Grenny showed me that office environments are designed to bring people together to form relationships. It is in the casual, unstructured interactions that friendships are made and strengthened. When we are aligned by common interest, and we have time to interact, this is when our tribal power is at it’s strongest.
Like Marbles In A Jar
According to Psychoanalyst and theologian [[Roger Moore]], all people, but especially preteen boys have a need to not only play but display. There is a need to be seen, something that rarely happens in online gaming. Somewhere along the way, male relationships have been condensed into a single axis. Socially boys and men are expected to reduce their relationships to competition only. However, human beings are wired for richer, cooperative and collaborative efforts as well.
Within the space of a GameTruck party, playing side by side, the players can begin to reconnect with those needs to be see and be seen. To borrow a phrase from Mr. Grenny, the players are like marbles in a jar. They interact because they have to, but also they want to. It is this unstructured interaction that leads to stronger relationships and friendships. Yes there is competition, but there is also negotiation, cooperation, comradery, and collaboration. And it is all supported by rich, visual communication and feedback.
The experience that I believe most people refer to is the profound sense of being embedded in a likeminded community that can express a wider range of interactions and relationships aside from anonymous cut through competition. Everyone plays. Everyone works together so everyone can play. This socialization around mutual interest enhances the bonds between the players. This is fertile ground for friendship.
The next time you have a GameTruck party, or you get invited to one, when you see the kids play, don’t just think, “they’re having fun.” You might also pause to listen, spend some time and watch how they interact. There are high fives, jumps, cheers, and yes, while there is always a little good-natured competition, can you see the validation that comes from the Adult Coach appreciating the achievement of the players? Can you feel the energy as the players suddenly have access to the full range of interpersonal communication available to them? Can you sense the potential energy build as they realize they share interests, and get the chance to explore those common bonds unfettered? This is the experience we are talking about. The sense of being deeply connected and aligned with people who have our wellbeing in mind and at heart. This is how friends are made.
And delivering this experience is what we have been delivering for 15 years. Perhaps that is why we are still as popular as ever.
- ktmoelle. (2017, October 6). Taste In the Brain [Text]. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/taste-brain
- Sinek, S. (2009). Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (Reprint edition). Portfolio.
- Harari, Y. (n.d.). Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Retrieved March 9, 2020, from https://www.amazon.com/Sapiens-Humankind-Yuval-Noah-Harari/dp/0062316117/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1583793092&sr=1-1
- Voss, C., & Raz, T. (2016). Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It (1st edition). Harper Business.
- Grenny, J., Grenny, J., & Grenny, J. (2020, November 30). No one is talking about the real problem with working from home. Fast Company. https://www.fastcompany.com/90579969/no-one-is-talking-about-the-real-problem-with-working-from-home
Power Posing Is Back: Amy Cuddy Successfully Refutes Criticism. (n.d.). Retrieved March 9, 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/kimelsesser/2018/04/03/power-posing-is-back-amy-cuddy-successfully-refutes-criticism/#70da9113b8ef