Okay, so the other day I was at youth group, playing a game. That game was war. If you haven’t played war before, it’s like dodgeball with obstacles. But why do we always play violent games? Why do we always die? Negotiation should be a game. Why do we not play negotiation games

So this is my idea for a game. I’m still thinking of a good name for it.

What you need

-two teams of about five to ten people each

-enough small lollies for everyone to have two or three, like m’n’ms gems or skittles

– two colours of coloured paper cut into squares, about ten of each colour. These will be split evenly between the two teams.

-two bowls

So the idea is that each team has squares of coloured paper, a different colour for each team, and there are different sizes, small and big. There should be about five small squares and five big squares for each team. Each team has a discussion about what there plan is, and then elects a representative to go and negotiate.

The idea is that small squares of paper represent two lollies, and big squares of paper represent five lollies. The representatives have all the lollies to negotiate with as well. Both teams are trying to get as many lollies as possible withing the constraints of having to swap all but two of their cards. It’s like currency.  The negotiaters should be in a different room so that they are unable to see their teams. They have to guess what is happening outside.

What do the non representative team member do during this time? Well, they can lead raids into one anothers territory. They can eat each others candy. They can throw things at one another (they are on opposite sides of the room) . This is to stimulate a environment similar to that of actual international relations, where the opposing sides are doing their best to sabotage one another. It is hard to negotiate when you don’t know what you are negotiating with.

At the end, you count up what  you have and eat the lollies.

This post was mostly for fun. But I would play this game (if only for the  candy)

Really, though, why is violence such an integral part of games while negotiation and civilised exchanges are not?

Remember that next time you murder someone with fake bombs.


3 thoughts on “negotiate

  1. I think there are two reasons why most games involve conflict rather than cooperation: first, much of the civilized world has glorified war for the better part of the past three or four thousand years. This is changing slowly, but many of the ideals we still hold are based on older notions of patriotism, nationalism, and even what it means to be a hero. Think about how many books for young readers can be essentially reduced to good versus evil – and of course we are good and they are evil, no matter who we are or who they are. Second, conflict is entertaining, because conflict means change. Whether the conflict is between teams, individuals, or even against an external force, ultimately a conflict will be resolved, and either we win or we loose – but nothing is more boring than a state of stasis or stalemate. Even non-violent games will still have winners and losers. The only exception to this is those very few games that are cooperative, but even then they are essentially solitaire; the challenge (and conflict) is between the players and the rules of the game.

    As for games that reward negotiation, there is a game called Diplomacy that is essentially a board-game version of what you describe. The premise is similar to risk – in that your ultimate goal is to capture territory – but the difference is that attacking and defending is not a question of luck or killing your opponent, but how much support you have. It is, therefore, essentially a game about how you can convince, manipulate, or persuade others to help you accomplish your goals, while trying to prevent them from accomplishing their own goals. Perhaps we will have an opportunity to play in Strategy and games club next semester?


  2. yes i think Settlers manages some negotiation skills… and there is a SHAPES game i play which also has similar skills… Risk is the opposite – attack or die defending your territories… i like this idea – maybe i should try it with an EHA workshop sometime!


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