Andy and Jeff Crocker with the Devil is in the Details of Your Experience | Episode 344

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Mister & Mischief (a.k.a. Jeff and Andy Crocker) are a husband-and-wife creative team based in Los Angeles. Together, they create live experiences designed to delight audiences and turn strangers into pals. Best known for their absurdist puzzle play Escape from Godot and their interactive pirate radio documentary 40 Watts From Nowhere, Andy and Jeff bring their brand of fun-forward storytelling to genres of all kinds.

Their award-winning immersive work has been produced for the La Jolla Playhouse’s Without Walls Festival, Indiecade, Denver Film Festival, Noah’s Ark at the Skirball Cultural Center, and the Warehouse Theatre.

Outside of Mister & Mischief, Jeff and Andy work independently in themed entertainment, developing experiences for clients including Universal Studios, Cedar Fair, The Bezark Company, The Hettema Group, Thinkwell and Walt Disney Imagineering.

Mixing games, theater, and comedy into playful, participatory events, Andy and Jeff are passionate about increasing the visibility of experiential design and audience-empowering art wherever they go.

 

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Looking forward to reading or hearing from you,

Rob

 

Full episode transcription (AI Generated)

Rob:
Hey, engagers. And welcome back to another episode of the professor game podcast. And when I say special episodes, you know that I mean that there’s something different or very different. And as you know, we don’t usually have more than one guest at a time, but today we had to make the exception for sure. Andy, Jeff, we still need to know, are you prepared to engage?

Jeff:
We are indeed.

Rob:
Let’s do this, because today we have not one, but two guests. Mister and misses mischief, also known as Jeff and Andy Crocker, they are a husband and wife creative team based in LA in Los Angeles. Together, they create live experiences designed to delight audiences and turn strangers into pals. They’re best known for their absurdist puzzle play, escape from Godot, and their interactive pirate radio documentary, 40 watts from nowhere. Andy and Jeff bring their brand of fun forward storytelling genres of all kinds.

Rob:
Their award winning immersive work has been produced by La Jolla Playhouse. La Jolla. How do you pronounce that one?

Andy:
You nailed it. La Jolla.

Rob:
La Jolla Playhouses without Fall Walls Festival indicate Denver Film Festival, Noah’s Ark and the Skirball Cultural center, and the Warehouse Theater. Outside of Mister and misses. Mister and mischief, Jeff and Andy work independently in themed entertainment, developing experiences for clients including Universal Studios, Cedar Fair, the Bizarre Company, the Hitima Group, Thinkwell, and the Walt Disney Imagineering. They have been mixing games, theater, and comedy into playful, participatory events. They are passionate about creating the visibility of experiential design and audience empowering art wherever they go.

Rob:
And today, they are at the Professor Game podcast. So, Andy, Jeff, is there anything that we’re missing from that intro?

Jeff:
That was incredible.

Andy:
We would not do that to you. That was great. Thank you.

Rob:
Amazing. Amazing. So very quickly, we want to know what you guys are doing in a daily basis or weekly basis. Whatever you want to go for. So what’s the regular day?

Rob:
Regular week, regular month. What does it look like to be in you guys shoes?

Andy:
Listen, I don’t want to turn it back on you right away, but what is a regular day? I haven’t seen one in a really long time. I’m shocked that people have an answer to this. We are. In addition to working together, we are also married.

Andy:
That’s why our name is Mister and mischief. And also, we are parents. So what is a regular day? Do we have one? Jeff?

Jeff:
Chaos is regularity.

Andy:
We try to. The regular day is an attempt at balancing and juggling all of the things.

Rob:
Well, as a parent, I can definitely attest to the differences between what happens in every day, for sure. My one and a half year old is amazing and unpredictable.

Jeff:
Exactly. Which is its own kind of game that you get to play.

Andy:
There’s nothing more immersive than parenting.

Rob:
Totally. And talking about parenting, one of the things that piqued my curiosity when you saw. When I saw your profile is theater. As some of the engagers might know, my dad used to be, well, when he was alive, he was an actor, both of theater. He did soap operas, especially for a living, more than anything else, and did some movies as well.

Rob:
So I’m very, very interested in seeing what you guys are up to. So how about we start with a story? You guys are living every day on storytelling. So how about a story of one of those times where it didn’t really work out? So a first attempt at learning failure moment, whatever you want to call your favorite one.

Rob:
And especially we want to. Again, we want to live it there with you. We want to take that experience, and perhaps even we might learn a lesson or two.

Jeff:
Yeah, it’s a great question. And I think that we, as mister and mischief, we are probably most well known for Escape from Godot, this absurdist puzzle play that blends a theater show and escape room mechanics into a very unique game experience. And we had never designed something like an escape room before, though. We enjoyed playing escape rooms, and it was really fun to come up with all the different, like, puzzles and puzzle piece elements, components, props, how people were going to engage with it, how they were going to interact with it. And after we did the initial run of it, it went very well.

Jeff:
We were very excited. And then we produced a longer run here in Los Angeles.

Andy:
I do want to add one detail about that process that I think is important to the story, because I think I know where we’re headed, is that Jeff is really good at data and watching all the shows and collecting this data. And so at this point, we’ve run the show enough where we know exactly how long within a couple minutes, I would say, or even less, sometimes a couple seconds, how long each part of the game usually takes people on average.

Jeff:
This is important for the story that is true. I can see if even if people are struggling, it always lands within this range of probability of struggling.

Andy:
Exactly.

Jeff:
And so we produced this independent run, and so we picked up the show and we moved it to another theater, and there were a handful of props that we had to remake. And when we started playtesting the show again a couple days before we opened to the public, we were noticing that there were a couple of the puzzles that were off the mean, off the average.

Andy:
And I would also say with this one, again, to just peek behind the curtain of Jeff and his data and sort of our relationship is like. Jeff’s like, huh? Things are not quite right. And then meanwhile, on the other side, I’m like, what’s happening? Everything is falling apart.

Andy:
We know how this works, what has happened? Because. And the audience, it’s highly participatory. The show is happening while they are playing a game. And the show and the audience all interact to create this experience.

Andy:
And I’m losing my mind. Jeff is curious. That’s right.

Jeff:
Curious. Why? Why are we off? What is wrong?

Andy:
We’re using all the same ingredients in the recipe, and yet it’s just starting to unravel. Things are taking a bananas long time.

Jeff:
We hadn’t changed any wording or blocking or actors, and we had changed the venue, but that didn’t. Upon investigation, that was not the issue. What happened was we had changed one.

Andy:
Of the props, and it looked almost identical.

Jeff:
Almost identical.

Andy:
The props, the wording that was written on the prop, identical word for word, nothing had changed. And that prop was.

Jeff:
It was a little notebook that had a couple of signposts, a couple of clues, and one puzzle piece that you needed to sort of know to complete a puzzle. And it turned out that prop that we switched over because the other one.

Andy:
Was, like, falling apart from being used over and over again.

Jeff:
It was like, it was a slightly different color. It was a little darker, but it was about a half inch smaller on each side. And that allowed it to easily be slipped into someone’s back pocket. And people would pick up this puzzle piece. Ostensibly, they’d look at it and they go, huh?

Jeff:
All right, we don’t need this quite yet. And then some folks would put it in their back pocket and proceed to.

Andy:
Fruit to forget that it existed.

Jeff:
To forget that it existed.

Andy:
It would vanish every show because it would.

Rob:
My goodness, talk about detail.

Andy:
It was exactly the size of, like, a denim jean back pocket.

Jeff:
And I’m sure 15 years ago, there’s a designer designing notebooks that is like, man, this is the perfect size for the back pocket of my pants. And for him, it was perfect. Him or her, it was perfect.

Andy:
And for us, it broke our show. A quarter of an inch on each side, half inch total. Almost destroyed our show and just almost destroyed my sanity. But Jeff was very on brand, even keeled about the whole thing. And that’s the story that we go to a lot to talk about the importance of details, and sometimes the details you don’t even see.

Andy:
It’s beyond, like, oh, I changed the word, and now people interpret this clue differently, or I changed the color. And accessibility is different. It was a barely perceptible change that almost broke our show. Yeah, I still think about. I still have dreams about it.

Rob:
I’m sure you have nightmares about it still. For sure. That notebook, it’s amazing, again, how small things, and in this case, intentionally small and smaller things, can make such huge changes. So, engagers, sometimes it’s not about the big things you need to change. Sometimes it is about the small things.

Rob:
So, observe, remember. And I always. My workshops like to talk about when doing playtesting, you have to sit back and observe, see what people do. In this case, I think it applies pretty well.

Jeff:
Absolutely. It’s the details, it’s the data, and it’s playtesting. And the playtesting is all about observation of your guests, your players. Yeah. All of that is super important.

Rob:
And the difficult part is the non intervention, not touching what’s. What’s going on, because they might be screwing up, but you need to see how and where they screw up to figure out listeners.

Andy:
I just need you to know the look that Jeff just gave me when you said that. I’m just gonna try to describe it. Is that when you said the non intervention, I got such a look, because Jeff knows that, like, when we’re watching these playtests, I think he might have, like, marks in his arm from me, like, grabbing. Trying not to, even in the moment intervene is a struggle.

Jeff:
Those marks are called scars.

Andy:
They are both emotional and literal. But it was such a look because it’s so true. And it’s something that I particularly struggle with, really, it is. It’s a forever struggle. So if you’re listening to this and you’re out there and you struggle, I’m with you struggling on the non intervening.

Rob:
It’s not easy. It’s not easy. People think it’s easy. I even give classes to people who are mostly designers by trade, or that’s what they’re studying to become. And you would think that these people are used to this, and they kind of are.

Rob:
And it’s still difficult. It’s still very difficult because we’re human. We would don’t want other people to struggle. We don’t like to see other people having not a bad time, especially when we designed something for them, and we don’t want them to be having a hard time. But before we dive in deeper to this story, I’d like to first off, thank you for that story.

Rob:
I think it’s has. It’s plenty full of interesting lessons and small things in this case that make everything so different. But how about we take a 180 degree spin and go for a success story, something that actually went well again, whether it was on the first try or the 10th or the hundredth time, it doesn’t matter. We want to be there with you, and we want to take maybe some of those success factors that we can find.

Jeff:
Yeah. What’s the best way to set this up? In the play testing that we’ve done, or dress rehearsals, however we want to call it over the years, we used to ask a bunch of different questions from people afterwards to get an idea of how they’re feeling, what their experience was like. And we’ve dialed that in to essentially asking two questions. And I’m going to will tell you a story about sort of the middle part of that.

Jeff:
The two questions we normally ask are what, Andy?

Andy:
Well, yeah, so the two questions are, what do you think is going to stick with you either later today or for a week or for the rest of your life? And what is something that you craved more of? And we really try to get people to stick to those two questions. Again, going back to my own personality of wanting to over intervene and having big feelings, but also sort of inspired by Liz Lerman’s critical response process and really having the questions have some protection for the artist and what we’re trying to do and not getting just, like, a million suggestions that might be actually harmful to our process. Okay, context table set.

Jeff:
So a lot of what we’re trying to do is find out if the feeling that our guests, our players are having is connected to the feeling we’re trying to evoke and the feeling and the theme. And so when we were producing 40 watts from nowhere, it’s a true story. We are telling a nonfiction story. We refer to it as an experiential documentary. So it’s a documentary that you get to live, be a part of, interact with, and part of that story.

Jeff:
We had a. It’s a 60 minutes experience, and we needed to evoke a jump in time as sort of the woman who was running this pirate radio station, Sue Carpenter. You know, her life was getting more and more and more chaotic as she went on through the years, having all these people come in and play music. And it was fun, but it was exhausting. And so in the middle of our experience, we had sort of like a.

Jeff:
Like a music break, and we wanted to evoke the feeling of that time passing so that we could move towards, like, the final act of the experience.

Andy:
For example, if you were watching a movie or a documentary, it might look like it might be a montage. But you can’t do a montage with just live human beings in a room, or can you?

Jeff:
So we worked into the experience a memetic mechanism that, in this case, it was a radio station. They got some cds delivered to the door. They pulled out these cds, and the cds were given to each participant. And they all had sort of one thing that they all needed to do. And so one of the cds was they had to put it in.

Jeff:
They had to press play. John Spencer Blues explosions, bell bottoms came on their headphones. And then they all had some sort of action to do. And through the whole song, we were able to control the lights. They were listening to the music, and they were all doing something very active that, by the end of the song, had completely trashed the apartment.

Jeff:
Lowercase t, trashed, not fully trashed.

Andy:
By design.

Jeff:
By design. We were encouraging them and giving them the mechanisms to make a big mess. And at the end of that, they were a little bit worn out. They had come through this journey of this whole song. And now the apartment had essentially been changed.

Jeff:
And they were the ones to have done it. And so what this allowed us to do was make them have both the time passing and the feeling that time had passed. And that something had occurred in the space.

Andy:
And because it was set to music, it was essentially like we had. They did a choreographed montage without ever having rehearsed it. There were no actors in the space. It was just headphones, a song, and some instructions on the back of some cds.

Jeff:
And so when we asked questions after this, it was, you know, what were the feelings that you had during this experience? And one of the things that what kept coming up was like, oh, it felt like a montage when we were listening to bell bottoms. And that was. That was a great success. It was exactly what we were going for.

Andy:
And in terms of those two questions we always ask, I think we asked, what will stick with you? And that came up more than anything else, because they really embodied it. And they really were genuinely exhausted. And it was very authentic. They really did trash the apartment.

Andy:
We had them tear paper up everything. So I think that was that moment when they answered the question with our dream of making a montage. It was a real win.

Jeff:
Yeah.

Rob:
Wow. So much. So much going on. Guys, that’s. That sounds amazing.

Rob:
Thank you for sharing that story and given all the experience that you guys have had all the stuff that you’ve been working on. If tomorrow you were approached to create a new project, if one of the engagers came in and said, look, we want to do some immersive theater to achieve, I don’t know, team building or to do this or that, have a certain objective, how would you help them go through it? Or if you were creating a new project, what would be the steps? Like, how do you go about these things? Is there a process?

Rob:
Do you have, I don’t know. What are the things you do first? What comes next? How do you go about these things?

Jeff:
That’s a great question.

Andy:
Each of our shows have such different styles, but it’s fun to see the things that they all have in common, and process is one of them. So we always start with how we want people to feel at the end.

Jeff:
When they are walking out. Typically in this case, wherever they’re walking out, if they’re walking back onto the street, onto the sidewalk, how do they feel? Well, how are they looking up, looking around at the streetlights, at the cars, at the people, and thinking, huh? Oh, things are a little different now.

Andy:
Wait, I have a clarification question about the question.

Jeff:
Oh, sure.

Andy:
Is this person in this theoretical thing that’s asking us how to make a thing? Do they already have an idea? Are they like, hey, I want to make a show about my childhood, my first car that I got when I was 16. Or are they coming in like, total blank slate?

Rob:
I would start from blank slate because it’s easier if you already have something to take it from the step where you already have something, I think.

Andy:
Okay, so I would say these two steps happen. This is the feeling that you want to have at the end. But it also could start with, like, we talk about finding an idea that feels both achievable and inspiring at the same time. Right. The doable and the.

Andy:
What’s the word we used? You came up with it anyway. It’s the dream that you have that feels both achievable and inspiring. So there’s usually a little flavor of context. And then we say, you put that promise, that context, that concept, and then you end a feeling.

Andy:
And that’s really where the spark comes, the feeling you leave. And so, for example, pirate radio or a local story or for objectivity, a piece we did, we knew we wanted to. The concept of decluttering and how we wanted it to feel. We wanted the battle of nostalgia and order and chaos, all that stuff. But in terms of our process, we always start with the end.

Jeff:
We always start with the end feeling.

Rob:
Of course, makes sense. It’s sort of reverse engineering the whole thing.

Jeff:
Yeah.

Andy:
And I would say it’s like emotional reverse engineering because it’s really. It’s less. We don’t usually have, like, it needs to end with this image or these words. It’s. We want them to walk out feeling a certain way, thinking thoughts and feeling feelings.

Jeff:
Yeah. And I think that’s what really good experience design is always doing, that. It’s taking into account the feelings that engagers are going to have as they perambulate through a space.

Rob:
Amazing. Amazing. So that would be it. If we were to work with you, that would be the stuff they would lead us through and get us to experience so that we built something together. Right?

Jeff:
Yeah.

Rob:
Amazing. Amazing. Thank you very much for that. And in this world of immersive immersion engagement, would you say that there is a best practice or something that you would say, well, do this, and, you know, any project of the sort would definitely benefit from would be at least a little bit better in that sense?

Jeff:
Yes. The immediate thing that comes to mind is empathy. And empathy in terms of how a human being engages with your piece. So what kinds of things are going to be. Might be frustrating or exciting?

Jeff:
You know, how is it for people who might be hearing impaired or seeing impaired, like, all those things that the more empathy you can have in all parts of the process are going to make for a better experience?

Andy:
And I will add to that, that’s not because we’re nice people. It’s because it. I mean, we are ish. We’re nice. We’re nice people.

Jeff:
Good say good.

Andy:
Yeah, good say no. But when a lot of times people use empathy as sort of this, like, way to just be. To talk about being, like, kind or being open hearted, which we are. But it’s because it works. It’s not just to be nice, but it makes your product and your design more robust and better, and more people can enjoy it.

Andy:
And it unlocks so much to go. Having that empathy, that big heart and that kindness, it is both a nice thing for the world, but also it makes it better.

Jeff:
Well, I would say it’s a vision. It’s a lens into the experience that others are having. And though it may not be your own lived experience, there still might be a really unique understanding. And this comes back to the conversation we were having earlier about data, watching people try to solve puzzles. You can see, oh, yeah, everyone struggles for about five minutes on this one thing, but we know when they get it that through this whole five minutes, they’re going to get to the point where they might be really frustrated, but when they get it, that feeling of elation is fantastic.

Rob:
Interesting, interesting. Very good way of using empathy. Any quick tips on how to use empathy, or how to build empathy to get better at a skill like this?

Andy:
One great question. Processing. Buffering. My brain is buffering. How do we do it?

Andy:
I think one of the things we do is because we work with live actors, so often we’re live elements in our rehearsal process. We continue to have our whole team be experiencing things as guests or as participants. So not just for rehearsal, but we also create what we call experiential rehearsals. So our last project, Apple Avenue, which was a show about my own childhood detective agency that I had when I was eleven. So we had a bunch of adults, very skilled, amazing performers, playing eleven year old girls out on an investigation.

Andy:
And to start this process of training them, we would do these, what we call experiential rehearsals. And those would vary from, we did the tabletop role playing game, kids on bikes, which so they got to play pretend together, and we even invited over a bunch of our daughter’s schoolmates, and they all, the real kids, and they all went out on an investigation in our neighborhood together. We had the kids take the performers out around the neighborhood with walkie talkies and poke around people’s yards and around the neighborhood and do an investigation. And so then when we come back to the designed or scripted pieces, they’re coming in with it with memories of seeing things with fresh eyes, not the feeling of not knowing, coming back with the frustration of rolling dice and getting numbers that get you into distress and peril in our role playing game, or the thrill of sneaking around a parking lot at really feeling like a kid. So we really try to build the rehearsals, not just to run the lines or to playtest a mechanic, but to have everyone put being a participant in their bones in creative and interesting ways.

Andy:
Because once you know how the show works, you can never not know it. So you have to get increasingly creative to access those parts of the brain, the fresh parts of your brain. That makes me sound like Doctor Frankenstein.

Rob:
Absolutely. That makes a lot of sense. And thank you for that. Thank you for those recommendations. They’re very thoughtful as well.

Rob:
So, Jeff, Andy, Andy, Jeff, after hearing these questions, you know, a little bit of the vibe of the podcast as well. Is there anyone that you would recommend anything, especially if you’re curious about hearing somebody else other than yourselves answering these questions that maybe you would be curious to hear.

Jeff:
You know, I think one of the first people that comes to mind is someone you’ve already had on the podcast, which is Jessica Green.

Rob:
Amazing.

Andy:
Big fans.

Jeff:
Big fans. Glad you’ve talked to her. Yeah. I think maybe top of the list is Risa Puno.

Andy:
Oh, my gosh. Risa Puno. So cool.

Jeff:
She’s an artist that is working on the fringes of installation art and game design.

Andy:
Sorry, not the fringe, the cross section.

Jeff:
The cross section? Yeah. The overlapping of the Venn diagram of game design and installation art and doing some truly unique things. Yeah.

Andy:
She might be best known for her piece called privilege of Escape, which was an escape room themed around white privilege and privilege in general. And it was a stunner and everything she’s done since has been and before. She’s amazing. Risa, will you be my friend? Oh, my God, I love her.

Rob:
Sounds like a very interesting one.

Jeff:
And I would say Arlo Howard. Arlo Howard is based in the UK and is a fantastic game designer and.

Andy:
Harnesser of the power of play.

Jeff:
Yes.

Andy:
Like, very playful, very thoughtful and wonderful at bringing in folks to the power of play. Really just a very inspirational speaker and.

Jeff:
Encouraging designers to look at how to develop what a game could be from a very broad stance. Like, look at every single part because all of it could be an interesting experience.

Andy:
Huh.

Rob:
Sounds like very, very cool couple of people that we might be able to have in the podcast and keeping up that recommendation spree. Is there a book that you recommend? An audience like this one? The engagers who are looking to build gamified, game inspired game design stuff with objectives that go beyond entertainment.

Jeff:
I’m gonna go first, and I’m gonna be a non answer, and I’m just gonna do the blanket, you know, read a lot, because I think as a designer, as a creator, like, all of it is useful. And the one thing I would offer is that I think it’s book riot. The website does the read harder challenge every year, and they sort of have all these prompts for getting outside of your comfort zone and reading. And I think that’s a great place to start to sort of expand your palette. But Andy has real recommendations.

Andy:
Your recommendation is real. I mean, my standard answer would be well played game by Bernie de Coven, but I can’t imagine that nobody has brought that up because it’s sort of a classic. But two that I think are more in the realm that we’re working in these sort of cross sections. One would be theater of the unimpressed by Jordan Tanhill, which is a series of essays about why people get bored at theater and the theaters that are breaking theatrical conventions in interesting ways. It’s one of the few books I’ve read more than once in my life, and it just came out hot off the presses.

Andy:
Imagination, a manifesto by Ruha Benjamin is a must read for anybody that is designing work for and with imagination in the current, very intense world we’re living in right now. Hard recommend.

Rob:
Imagination, a manifesto is the one that you recommended right now, right?

Andy:
Yes. As well as theater of the unimpressed.

Rob:
Yeah, yeah. I wrote down the three, but I wasn’t sure I had gotten that one by Ruja Benjamin. I just found it as well. Amazing, amazing. Three book recommendations and the recommendation to actually read engagers.

Rob:
I need to take that recommendation. We started off talking about kids, and I love my daughter in every single way, but it is true that my reading habit has gone basically to almost zero at this stage. So hopefully we’ll get to him back on the boat in that sense. Very, very.

Andy:
Give it a couple years, because, like, when your kid is reading, that’s gonna open up. You know, we read with our kid all the time. Like, we have a family book. We all just read Coraline. Everyone in the family.

Jeff:
Yeah, we had a little family book club. But also, Andy, don’t you have recommendations for, like, interactive children’s books?

Andy:
Oh, I don’t have them. Oh, gosh, I do. I have a whole list of, like, books that are, like, about experience, design that aren’t.

Rob:
We will include that on the. On the. On the show notes for sure. So send them over on email, and we’ll include them there. We’ll include them there for sure.

Rob:
For inspiration. Engagers. That’s what you are. Most of you, at least, are here for gathering new inspiration. And in this world of interactive experiences, what would you guys say is your superpower, that thing that you do at least better than most others?

Jeff:
Well, maybe we both have one, Andy, you know exactly what it is, which is human beings.

Andy:
Human beings. We’re good at humaning.

Jeff:
I think we’re really good at creating an experience that is human powered. We use that term because it’s right both directions. It is human powered by the guests that are attending. Our experiences can only exist if there are people there. But then our superpower also is on the other side as well, which is actors that are working in a non scripted environment with the guests that are in the space and the experience.

Jeff:
And Andy is a trained theater director, and she’s the person. She also worked in the casting world for ten years.

Andy:
Yes. I am an excellent matchmaker of creatives. I would say building a team, bringing people together, and finding the right performers for the experience is. I am not shy to say, that’s my jam.

Rob:
Cool. Cool. How about your favorite game? What would that be and why?

Andy:
Favorite game?

Jeff:
Favorite game. I think, again, I’m going to start with a broad answer, which is that games that encourage and promote connection, right. That goes through all the work that we are doing. We want people to be connected somehow. It’s in our, the introduction that you had, we want to turn strangers into.

Andy:
Pals, and that is cliche against solitaire. It’s fine if you love no judgies, but we like games that bring people together.

Jeff:
Yeah, those are our favorite games. Now, that being said, I think our current favorite game is a card game called Happy Salmon by the folks that made exploding kittens. It was gifted to us, and it has brought us so much joy. It is very quick, it is silly, it is chaotic, and it is joyful.

Andy:
And I think the way they describe it is like 30 seconds to learn, 90 seconds to play, but youll want to play it for hours, and theyre not wrong.

Rob:
Sounds like a good one. And exploding kittens is a good reference as well. If they did that one, their chances are good that they made another great game as well.

Jeff:
I would add, too, because we do a lot of work that is narrative driven and we like stuff that is on the absurd spectrum, in which case, it’ll come in as no surprise that I think our favorite video game is probably the Stanley parable.

Rob:
The Stanley parable? I haven’t heard of that one.

Andy:
Oh, I’m so excited for you. I’m so excited for you.

Rob:
I’ll try to check it out as well, but of course, we’re running out of time, so I want to leave you the stage at this point. You know, whatever. If you want to guide us to any call to action or anything similar, any final words or piece of advice, it’s your time. And then we’ll say very soon that it’s game over.

Jeff:
Andy.

Andy:
Oh, my gosh. The pressure. I mean, I think that play is paramount. Like, play is the way that we can, just trying to, taking a second to, like, choose my words carefully, we talk about that playfulness and presence are two sides of the same coin. It’s the same thing.

Andy:
Being playful with someone is oftentimes the most accessible way to be truly present and to be really present with somebody and really be in that moment is really precious to our emotional and psychological well being. It helps fuel our tank for fixing this broken world we live in. It is connected to empathy and all of those things that we talked about before. So I think the power of play goes beyond feeling good or learning things. The power of play is the power of accessing a way to be present in a oftentimes joyful and very emotionally accessible way.

Jeff:
I would add, too, that as a parent, you oftentimes have this somewhat active and aggressive play partner who wants to play all the time, and that could be easy. It can also be quite tiring, as I’m sure you know, Rob. But then as we get a little older or if we are not parents, it takes a little bit more effort to truly go out and play with friends and allow that presence to be this bond and this structure and this foundation on which, you know, really solid lifelong connections can be made.

Andy:
So we like to try to assist the imagination and assist the play when we can, but we hope everyone else can go out and help yourself to some play.

Rob:
Amazing. Amazing. Thank you very much for that. You were describing how as we get older, play starts taking a different realm in that way. Definitely does.

Rob:
But there are many opportunities there. There are things that we want to do, things that we can do, things that we can’t do, but we can always give it a try. There’s always small pockets of space that we can do different things. So thank you for that recommendation, for sure. However, Andy, however, Jeff, however, engagers, as you know, at least for now and for today, it is time to say that it’s game over.

Jeff:
Engagers.

Rob:
It is fantastic to have you around. And you know that this podcast really makes sense because of you. So how about we connect on LinkedIn so you can let me know what you think about the podcast? Who would you like to have as a guest? If you have any questions, what we can even help you with, you can find us as Professor Game on LinkedIn.

Rob:
We’re always sharing content on the podcast gamification game, inspired solutions. And remember, go ahead and find us as Professor Game on LinkedIn. And before you click continue, please go ahead and subscribe or follow. This is absolutely for free using your favorite podcast app and listen to the next episode of professor game. See you there.

End of transcription

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