Simulation Game: Culture Clashes

Tanya Atwood-Adams conducted a simulation game of how different cultures are viewed by newcomers. “Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas anymore” was one way to describe this experience. 

We participated in a simulation game in which the whole room was divided up into two groups; each group went to a different area of the building with a facilitator who taught the group the main interactions of their new culture.

There were eight steps:

  1. Divide into two cultures
  2. Learn and practice your new culture
  3. Select an observer
  4. Exchange observers
  5. Observers report back to their group
  6. Exchange of visitors
  7. End of game
  8. Analysis and discussion

There were some game tokens that each group used, with meanings and uses of the tokens explained privately to the separated groups by their facilitators. One group was Alpha and the other group was Beta. Facilitators described what interactions were important to group functioning. When observers and visitors arrived, they had no idea what the group dynamics were supposed to be, they could only judge by what they saw and heard,  how they were welcomed (or not) and how they felt. 

During the discussion and analysis time, some of the comments were very telling:

Beta said Alpha was:                                                   Alpha said Beta was:
Hostile                                                                            Cold and unfeeling
Patriarchal                                                                    Monosyllabic
Social                                                                              Number Oriented
Touchy-feely                                                                 Color Focused
Liked talking about men                                            Serious
Directed                                                                         Stand-offish
Talkative                                                                        Sign language and sound
Rude to newcomers                                                     Stern
Mean                                                                               Not fun

Everyone got to be a ‘visitor,’ and as we were walking from the Beta group after visiting–-one person kiddingly said “what a bunch of dummies!” Even though she was kidding, it made you think about how things are misinterpreted by those who don’t speak the language or understand the nuances of the social structure.

It definitely was an eye-opener. One thing about WTB: we always have a great time meeting and greeting wonderful women and always come away with something to ponder.