To maximize the players’ experience of “Obviously!”, we intentionally “Set-up!” as much of the environment as possible, removing variables and distraction, focusing their attention on play.
“I don’t think we got set up, I know we got set up! I mean, really, seriously, where did all those cops come from, huh?” – the Usual Suspects (1995)
TQ “Set-up” is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the idea that you can be in the middle of a completely designed situation and not even know it, even after the trap is sprung.
In WAYK, we aim to create a flow experience where group success and engagement are ongoing during practice of the skill. To create and maintain this experience we must create and maintain the environment that drives this experience.
We set-up both a learning environment, and a learning laboratory. Every game is an experiment, in which we control as many variables as possible, in order to reliably innovate techniques that further accelerate learning.
This also allows experienced players to know exactly what is coming up next; the conversation is so well designed, the variables are so well controlled for, that sometimes to illustrate tq set-up we tell players “we planned every word in this conversation you just had years ago – including what you didn’t even know you were going to say.” And it’s essentially true. The more you practice set-up, the more you develop an eye for well-designed set-ups everywhere.
In classic games like Chess, Poker, Go, Backgammon and so on, you’ll notice highly controlled, high-contrast, clearly delineated, iconic play pieces and surfaces. These are great examples of time-tested set-up; players can focus all their attention on play, rather than on resolving ambiguities.
An iconic application of set-up is the white room in The Matrix, where the heroes have access to an imaginary space totally shapeable to the needs of the learner, able to eliminate all variables and distraction.
Every environment is assumed to influence or drive human behavior in some fashion; WAYK players explore and innovate what behaviors, and therefore what environments, will most accelerate learning.
Design your experiences by designing your environment.
Introducing the technique
Short: “Technique: Set-up. We always set-up our play surface so that it’s clear of any other objects or distractions. We want to create a set-up that makes everything obvious as possible.”
Applying the technique
Set-up the play environment to limit distraction, and to create a situation where players always obviously! know what to do next.
- Drive play with the Total Physical Response of actual objects in the actual environment referred to by the language.
- Create environment where players are tq Warm/Fed/Rested/Safe/Willing, to ensure that players have the psychological, emotional, and physical resources necessary for accelerated learning. Do Food for hungry players.
- Look at the play environment at a room level with a WAYK Eye to limit anything that will tax the attention – clutter, dirt, distraction, chaos.
But what about…?
New game leaders and players may express displeasure at the extreme measures we taking in setting-up a game. It can seem like over-kill – do we really need to go to such great lengths to design the play environment?
- TQ OCD – the extent to which we accelerate learning is in direct proportion to the amount of techniques we apply and the extent to which we apply them.
- But we need to also learn to wield these techniques in tq Bite-sized Pieces, one technique at a time.
- TQ Everybody Plays All-the-time with TQ Whatever Works – play with whatever you have. If you have an impromptu game in a cofee shop, there will be a cup of coffee on the table, and the noise of a crowd. On a bus, there’s no table, and everything shakes, and you’re looking for your stop. If you’re walking, you’re holding pens in my hand. Play with the resources and time available.
- One the one hand, TQ Fluency Hunters are skilled wielders of an array of OCD techniques that they employ zestfully, and without hesitation; we like to say, “You know you’re really language hunting when it feels inconvenient.”
- On the other hand, TQ Let it Go; though we spend a lot of time thinking about how to scale WAYK up, to the best possible game we can imagine, we also scale WAYK down, to do the best we can with what is available.