During this past week, our class got together to play two games, Mental Blocks and Survive! Escape from Atlantis. Each of us were allowed to choose which game we wanted to play, with the option to even play both of them if we had enough time. Personally, I chose to play Mental Blocks, a cooperative puzzle game where the players attempt to build a specific shape using a series of foam blocks and each player’s clue card within the allotted time. However, each player is only allowed to look at their own individual clue, and each clue sees the target object from a different perspective without stating what that perspective is. It is this particular aspect of the game that I believe makes it so difficult, as if everyone is attempting to create their own individual piece of the puzzle, then they will rarely match the solution unless the players discuss what their perspective depicts and determine specifically which perspective each player holds. However, this was often easier said than done, as the time limit causes most people to immediately begin trying to build their particular perspective, rather than taking a moment to discuss.
As for the gameplay session itself, our group played Mental Blocks several times, but only managed to actually succeed once or twice. During our first game, we actually played without the time limit and used restrictions that limited what blocks players could move or how they could communicate, and as a result were able to successfully complete our first puzzle. For all of the following puzzles though, we chose to use the time limit, and from there winning became far harder as we simply could not establish whose perspective was which and began to argue over what our cards depicted, building and rebuilding the same incorrect shapes rather than finding the correct one.
Despite these losses, I still feel that we can learn something about Leadership from Mental Blocks. For instance, most of our losses in the game could be attributed to our tendency to build our own perspective first before consulting anyone else. Similarly, in a leadership or group situation, if multiple people in the group have their own, conflicting goals, then the group as a whole may struggle to make any progress at all. In situations like this, the group will only be able to recover if the leader is able to step up and force a compromise of some sort, where both parties gain some, but not all, of what they wanted. This also applied in our games of Mental Blocks, as at least one player was required to set aside their own clue and attempt to parse what everyone else’s clues depicted instead.
Overall, I had a lot of fun playing Mental Blocks, even if we were only able to succeed once or twice over the many puzzles we attempted. Attempting to parse together various clues while struggling with whatever restriction you receive is quite enjoyable, and as a side goal while playing you can also try to determine what everyone else’s restrictions are. I would very much be interested in playing the game again at some point, perhaps trying to determine what everyone’s perspective is depicting rather than building my own to see if that helps us succeed at all.