My adventure with the empathy toys started by a TEDx video; one during which Ilana Ben-Ari presented the outcomes of a school project which turned into a business idea.
The original assignment was: design a navigational aid for the blind and how a visually impaired person might get others to help them answer them. By making the toys, they realised that from a tool meant to engage conversation and bridge blind and sighted folks, they actually created a learning tool designed for people of almost any ability and age, as well as a facilitation tool for workplaces of every shape and size.
Toy for empathy, from TwentyOneToys, is a blindfolded puzzle game that can only be solved when players learn to understand each other. The company elaborated guidebooks to help game masters, facilitators, to carry on the activity ensuring participants would get the maximum out of the experience.
For students, the games proposed are designed to reveal the relationship between empathy, creativity, and learning. For organisation, it’s a toolset which generates discussion about the role of empathy and communication in the workplace. They expected insights’ domains are in creative dialogue, teamwork & collaboration, making connection, improved performance, and more authentic interpersonal communication.
About incorporation in training, it's a communication game by excellence. For trainers, it’s a great tool to use in a classroom. I personally used them as:
This could be used on Conflict solving, Innovation, Intercultural communication, Emotional Intelligence to name a few from their manual for organisations. One can adjust the rules according to the point s/he wants to make.
I used my set on trains, busses, Leadership Summer School, YTA and other NGO events. Of course, the key to all the game lies in the debriefing, when participants extract their own learning from the experience. It is quick enough to be able to repeat the experience and most of the times, the second time happened to be significantly better than the first.
Here is a video from 2013:
I have been lucky enough to be in touch with the TwentyOne Toys team, providing feedback at the launch of the product. We also discussed elements such the advantage or not of playing in mother language and other findings. They are pretty cool fellows.
You can find more details about the tools here: http://empathytoy.com/
About author of the article
Herve is an IT Development Engineer, Life Coach and Freelance Trainer with broad experience in managing IT technical projects, strategic development and organisational transformation initiatives in international environment.
Mirna , initiator of Trainers Toolbox, is a trainer in love with training tools and innovative games, positive psychology, NLP, and everything that makes learning more impactful and engaging.