Magic Maze — Cooperation beyond human limits
Four fantasy heroes were catapulted into a strange world (which to us looks like a shopping mall), their weapons are lost, they have short time to find them, and they must be able to run to remain trapped in this strange world!
Magic Maze is a cooperative game where, from 1 to 8 players, must control four heroes and lead them step by step to they salvation through 20 scenarios.
Each player receives a power card that allows him to perform a set of actions to any hero moving through the intricate hallways of the shopping mall.
All players act simultaneously, while time passes inexorably.
Players can not speak, but they can make a suggestion to another player putting in front of it a red wooden marker. That player having to undersand the suggestions and determine wicht action has to take. Do I will have to move the Archer or the dwarf? Do I will take the gun and go on the hourglass box that allows me to turn and gain time?
If you complete the scenario, you can move on to the next one. Otherwise you will be stuck in a time loop “forced” to repeat the same scenario forever!
Magic Maze is a game for 8 and up, but it works fine also with secondary school, with high school, with groups of young people and with families. Not by chance was the most voted game in Play! (The biggest Italy game-fair) and it is among the five finalists for the Italy “Gioco dell’anno 2017”.
Magic Maze was one of the games that I chose to take with me into “Vacanza insieme 2017”. We were a group of over 250 people of all ages who have “occupied” a hotel in the Dolomites. Among them was a group of boys of 8–10 years who is passionate about the passing game is several hours in the evening and is in the late afternoon . See their approach to the game was really interesting.
As we can imagine the first difficulties was representing by the impossibility to talk each other. But after only a few matches (or about 30 minutes … always under my close supervision) the guys respected this rule among the incredulous and amazed looks to parents and seniors who saw 5 guys playing in complete silence!
However, the greatest difficulty that the group had to face was to finish the first scenario. Initially I see that a couple of guys tended to focus more on other players moves than their activities (the tipical problem of the dominant leader ). Also it was difficult to see where is the best way to use its power and how unlock some situation! Everyone reasoned for themselves!
Games after games … Or rather defeat after defeat. The kids blame other player. Observing the group, it was clear that they could not cooperate. They did not have any tools to cooperate. They were not used to play as a team.
I attended all their matches. After every defeat I started to explain that they had to focus on helping the group. If one player had not seen the sequence you imagine… you could try to found another solution. What they should strain to think more about how to make the best from their powers. After 9–10 games on the first scenario …. the group magically change the way to play! They begin to work together and win three scenarios in a row!
Magic Maze is one of the few cooperative games I’ve played that profoundly stimulates the group to cooperate (along with Apollo XIII). Or rather, it is one of the few games in which cooperation is critical to be able to win (or survive).
I think these games will allow to develop the competence of “team working”. But surely a group of kids will have the need to be helped to understand what it means to “play as a team.”
Suggestion for Parents
Magic Maze is a very unique game. The level of adrenaline is really high throughout all the game. But for some player (older or younger) could be frustrating bye the impossibility to speak.
During the match you could take advantage of the few moments in which we can speak freely. In the first scenarios, you can speak only when someone “turn an hourglass .” In the next scenarios some heroes will be able to activate the possibility to speak on certain boxes. In all these cases, you can talk until someone starts to move a hero … but be careful that the time passes! And be even more careful that as soon as someone moves a hero you have to re-enter into “silent mode” until the next opportuninty. Make well those moments to coordinate your activities !
When you “lose” a scenario dedicate the right time to de-briefing. You have to learn how to manage it in the most constructive way. If it is possible trying to figure out where a player on your team is “stuck” and find a ways to help him in the next game.
Step by step you will notice that the group will begin to improve their non-verbal communication. The focus of each player will be how to increase its role in the group and how we can coordinate in order to end succesfully the game!