Last year while reading Jane McGonigal's Reality is Broken, she described a game she designed entitled Bounce. The purpose of this game was to connect young people with senior adults. I was enthusiastic about the game and its community-building potential. I was also intrigued by the larger idea of incorporating ideas from game design into congregational life, not only because games are popular and would connect congregational life with something people enjoy but also because, as McGonigal had persuaded me, games have great potential for helping solve real-world problems (including making people happy). I first blogged about Bounce and my intention to design a congregational game of it here.
Last autumn I played a prototype round with our confirmation class and a predetermined list of senior adults. I worked with the Congregational Care Ministry in putting the list together. Only two of the confirmands played the game, one very enthusiastically. The senior adults gave positive feedback to receiving the calls from young people, particularly the one enthusiastic young man.
So, based on that prototype, I designed a congregation-wide version of the game. It seemed to fit the playful ethose of First Central and would fit well during the season of the year when we are very focused on family and community -- the mid-spring when we have the all-church retreat, pie day, the church's anniversary, the super sale, graduation, confirmation, mother's day, etc.
I bounced :) the idea off of the church staff and others and got good responses. I took it to the Congregational Care Ministry who backed the idea and gave good feedback. I began advertising the game on Easter Sunday (when we had 311 in attendance) and advertised throughout April. The game was to be played the final week of April, first week of May, culminating on anniversary Sunday with the awarding of a trophy. My hope was it would become an annual tradition with a traveling trophy. The Sunday the game was to commence, there was a bulletin insert with the questions, rules, and call log.
By Wednesday I was concerned that I hadn't received any calls myself. I had decided not to do the calling myself, as I designed the game, and I also call church members all the time anyway. I continue to promote it daily on Twitter and post comments on our Facebook group. I asked people about it and encouraged at least one family to have their kids play.
Sunday morning people were to turn their call logs in before service so that the award could be given at the conclusion of the service. No one turned anything in. More than one person told me that they had intended to call around, but just hadn't gotten it done. They were disappointed that no one did.
So, mark that experiment failed. Thoughts and feedback?