Game facts and game description
The Reactor game is an analogue strategic game played in groups of 8 – 15 persons. One
team plays, the other monitors the game and gives feedback afterwards.
The goal of the game is to get the cup of water out of the playing field without damage by
using devices from the playground only.
The course group is divided into two groups (8 – 15 persons). One group is playing and the
other one watches and monitors the game.
One play session takes approximately 30 minutes (exclusive feedback and introduction
session). Overall play session, inclusive introduction, lecture on feedback and feedback
session the games take about 120 – 140 minutes.
What can be learned by playing the game?
The learning goals in specific are:
● Ability to work in a team
● Communication skills – possibly conflict resolution skills
● Collaboration skills
● Problem solving ability
● Readiness for execution
● Decision-making capacity
● Results-oriented action
● Analytical and strategic thinking
● Openness to change
● Organisational skills
● “Out of the box” – thinking
As a strategic play in the group finding process and during professional orientation / fit
for the labour market workshops to reflect on various topics / skills / competences
needed at a workplace.
The Reactor game is a strategic game for a whole course group (8 – 15 persons). In the
game a reactor emergency is simulated, in which a defective reactor must be recovered
quickly and in compliance with safety precautions (but without time limit). In a 4 x 4 m
marked playing field, there is a barrel exactly in the middle. In this bucket is another
bucket and in the bucket again a cup of water (= reactor). The goal of the players is to get
this bucket of water out of the playing field without damage.
Rules of the game are
Entering, encroaching on or bending over the edge of the playing field is forbidden as well
as other aids that are not available. The use of your own smartphones is permitted. The
ticking of a Geiger counter provides an acoustic background to the game.
All young adults and adults
● Pair groups and small groups in the feedback lecture
● Classroom has to be big enough that students can walk around
● Groups from 8 – 15 persons
Preparation classroom for the game
The trainer needs to define a room with enough space for the game. In the middle of the
room the playing field is set up. Chairs and tables are placed at the edge of the classroom,
in such a way that the monitoring group is able to follow the game and see the players
and that the players have enough space to walk around the field. In the playing field, the
trainer sets up the game.
The interactivity in solving a real problem strengthens the group as such and trains the
social skills. The participants train their ability to work in a team by developing the
opinions and thoughts of others as well as by being able to engage in group processes.
Facts and ideas must be clearly defined and described in the group. By applying their
problem-solving skills, they identify the problem at hand, design and develop
communication structures and jointly work out rules for the approach to the task at hand.
How to embed
1. Before the lesson: Workshop on Feedback
It is important to start with a comprehensive introduction to the game. As this game has a
focus on soft skills and social competences, it seems to be necessary to have a short
workshop on feedback and its rules. This can also be done in communication or language
In this introduction phase, it is important that the students get prepared as the persons
who monitor the game. On the one hand, they should get familiar with the observation
sheet, on the other hand, the students have to learn how to communicate their
monitoring to the group that is playing. That means to form sentences regarding feedback
● Describing and avoiding to evaluate: describe your own perception and reaction.
● Use clear and precise formulations: Feedback shall be comprehensible.
● Descriptions without moral condemnation to avoid rejections on feedback.
This can be practised first in pairs and then in small groups. During this exercise the
trainer shall circulate between the pairs / groups and work intensively for some minutes
on the right wording. Examples and reflections on wordings can be done in the group after
the practical part.
2. Introduction to the lesson
● Explanation of game, goal and rules
● Put students into groups / 4 – 8 persons per group (players / monitoring persons)
● Explanation of observation sheet and rules
It is of advantage that two or three trainers accompany the game.
3. Let’s start the game
● The groups form. The monitoring group takes a seat and the players start the
● Teachers have a monitoring role.
TIP! If this game is used in language classes, then one trainer shall focus upon language
skills and take notes to be able to work on this in following language classes.
● There is no time limit.
Reflection on the game
When players were able to save the little bucket with water and/or failed and/or break up
the challenge, the reflection of the game starts.
First the players are asked
● How they felt
● What they guess they have learned
● What were the challenges in the group, etc.
Then the monitoring group has to give feedback to the group:
● What they have seen regarding the process of forming groups
● Communication in the group
● Strength of the group / individuals
● Who were the initiators
● Conflict solution processes
● How was the decision making process
● How were problems solved in the group
● Analytical thinking
● Organisational skills
Use in class
One of the targets of the BFI learning workshop is to prepare students (age 15 – 21) for the
labour market / an apprenticeship training in the dual system, as well as give them
insights into the world of labour. The reactor game makes group processes / working in a
group tangible. In the game’s reflection process, it is possible to discuss / reflect upon
communication and organisational skills, problem solving skills, collaboration, etc. As
these are key skills and competences for work, we use the game to create links between
the experience the students had in the game and the world of labour.
We implemented the game in the context of communication training.
Feedback by the trainers
After that the trainers sum up the reflections and each of the players has the possibility to
ask questions, to further elaborate reflections / feedback.
TIP! If you play the game with students that are trained as teachers, various occupations in
the social field, etc. you can also take a video when playing the game and watch it for
further feedback in the class.
The trainers´ experience
It was very easy to motivate the group to play this strategic game. Observing the game and
each group participant, gave them the possibility to further work on these competences in
the group. Moreover, they had the possibility to see strengths of their students, social
competences, communication skills, etc.
The game strengthens the following skills and competences:
● Students got the ability to work in a team.
● They learned to communicate and to solve conflicts.
● They had to foster their capability to cooperate.
● The students had to work on their ability to solve problems and they had to make
● Some students had to take over the initiative.
● Analytical and strategic thinking as well as out-of-the box thinking was very
● Some used their organisational skills.
In general, the students loved the game. They started moving, started to communicate without fear and were able to meet each other and perceive themselves in different ways compared to regular lessons. The students liked the new challenge and they had lots of fun. During the feedback process, they realised how comprehensive the game was and what they had learned regarding communication, meeting new challenges, organisationalskills, etc. The students were really amazed by what they got out for themselves, e.g. how do I work together in a group, what is my role, am I able to find new ideas, am I the initiator or rather the person who organises the group, etc.
Student 1: “I liked the game. It was good to work together with my colleagues. Each one of
us had different ideas.”
Student 2: “I would like to play the game again, because I am sure that we can make it the
Student 3: “We worked as a team and that was very good.”
Student 4: “In the end, it was no problem that we were not able to save the bucket.”