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Change, bonds, and board games

October 9, 2019.

For Ivan, playing board games with his colleagues has many more virtues than just fun:

I don’t get to work with my coworkers.

What ought to be an oxymoron is in fact a reality for anyone that works in an environment with a variety of clients, such as a digital agency or a consulting company. I have many coworkers, some of whom work on bigger teams for larger clients. However, due to our wide range of clients, it just so happens that my direct teammates are not in our Gatineau office. This is a very new concept for me.

My background is working for startups, which in many ways is in very stark contrast to my current environment. In a startup, a relatively small group of people works towards one common goal or product, or even just one project. Day in, day out, a large number of us focus on tackling the same tasks and solving the same problems. The common endeavour bonds us.

At Spiria, by contrast, one might assume, as I once did, that not directly working with my colleagues would distance me from them. Well, I’m happy to say that this is far from the case. We all still interact every day, be it in tech discussions, collaborative problem solving, team lunches, or lunch-time games of foosball.

One neat aspect of our interaction, the one that I’d like to highlight today, is that a great number of us are into board games. But unlike the relatively trivial games of our childhood, like Monopoly and Clue, our games are less luck-dependent. They promote strategy, tactics, collaboration or competition, and taking advantage of the complex systems and mechanics that make the game work. It’s an activity that works our minds, much like our jobs do, but in a fun and social setting.

We now have a small stockpile of games at work, brought in by those of us who have more than a reasonable number of games at home. This gives us an impromptu activity to engage in at lunch, after work, on weekends, or even when people just need to step away from their monitors and engage in something that continues to work their brains.

Spirians playing Rising Sun.

Spirians playing Rising Sun.

The games promote critical thinking, a quality that we developers need for our day-to-day work. Some games require us to observe and know the diverse traits and personalities of the other players, our coworkers. This helps us to better know and understand them, helping to foster collaboration when working on future projects together.

Even though I'm very new here, this activity has already brought us together numerous times outside of work. It has encouraged those of us who are more introverted to engage socially with our coworkers in a fun and stress-free way. On numerous occasions, I’ve come down late for lunch to see a game already in progress, while others sit around it, observing and discussing the various goings-on and strategies at play.

The mechanics of the game spark interest in our minds, and the bond created by the experience brings us together.