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057: How to Use Elements of Video Game Design for your Workshop Design – with Coline Pannier

How to use elements of video game design for your workshop design with Coline Pannier


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We can find inspiration for our work as facilitators in the most surprising places. I would have said that game design is one of those surprising sources, but after speaking to Coline Pannier, the similarities and interconnections were abundantly clear.

Game design is the path to mastery in a controlled environment.

While we might look for convenience and facilitate in a way that creates ease, game designers approach tasks from another angle. They create interesting challenges that help players to develop a skill. In a workshop environment these challenges are small frictions or imaginary environments that make it interesting for the group to solve a problem together.


Learn about:

  • What video game design and workshop design have in common
  • Why humility is essential for facilitators
  • The power of frustration and challenges, and why we should embrace them in workshops
  • How restriction boosts creativity
  • What facilitators are responsible for, what they can control, and what they should leave behind

Truly, a fascinating approach to workshops and facilitation! This is an engrossing episode of Workshops Work and, although I highly recommend keeping a pen and paper at hand to take notes, you can also just download mine!

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Questions and Answers 


[01:28] When did you start calling yourself a facilitator?

[03:03] How do you combine enjoyment of creating with enjoyment of facilitation?

[04:23] What do you think other educators can learn from facilitation?

[06:16] How does humility fit into education?

[08:24] What from game design can we apply to workshop design?

[10:23] Can facilitators purposefully introduce challenges to our workshops?

[15:23] How can we use obstacles that already exist for participants?

[17:17] How do you define, as a game designer, the right amount of challenge?

[19:50] Would you reframe existing challenges in a new way?

[22:58] What would be a nice, meaningful obstacle that you would create in a workshop?

[26:39] Can you give an example of creating a loop between ‘levels’ in a workshop?

[30:28] What can we learn about sprints from game design?

[34:02] How do you know that you ‘went in the wrong direction’ outside the game environment?

[36:42] Do you share with the group if you feel something has gone wrong in a workshop?

[38:04] What would the signs be that a group is getting a process wrong?

[39:18] What is a failed workshop?

[41:43] Can you give an example of taking on a job for the wrong reasons?

[44:08] Is it possible to use game design to structure an organisation?

[51:19] What is your favourite exercise?

[54:48] Is there anything else you would like to mention that you haven’t already?

[56:37] What is your view of gamification?

[1:03:31] If someone fell asleep after minute one what would the one thing you want them to take away?


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