Christmas Day dinner in my world is always spent at my parents’ house. We socialize, we eat, and then we open presents. Our goal this year was to add something so that the youngest participants did not want to flee immediately after the last gift was unwrapped. To help achieve this aim, my brother recommended we download a game from Steam called “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes”. This is a collaborative game. One person is the Defuser and is the only one allowed to look at the computer screen. All others are the Experts and are given Bomb Defusal Manuals to use. The object of the game is to defuse the bomb in time before it explodes. It is important for the defuser and the experts to communicate clearly and frequently so that few (or no) mistakes are made. Cutting the wrong wire may shorten your time limit or end the game immediately.

We played five times and won three times. A 60% success rate isn’t bad, considering this was the first time we played together. It was also a lot of fun. We learned some strategies … I won’t share too many of them, but let me just say that delegating was very helpful. When we disabled the bomb in time, we celebrated. I even took a photo of the proof of our success.


As we drove home, with smiles on our faces and a sense of satisfaction in our bones, I realized that this was a perfect example of positive interdependence. We needed all the members of the team to try their best to do their job – we didn’t have the time for one person to do it all. When we delegated tasks and people achieved them, we solved the puzzle and won the game. In group projects, we often notice interdependence when it fails – when an individual does not complete their share of the work and the rest of the group scrambles to fill in the gaps. In this game, interdependence was clear when we won and when we lost. When we didn’t meet our goal, we spent very little time blaming and much more time deciding how to change and improve our tactics as a team so we could all do better. It reminded me of those Breakout Edu Games (which I haven’t played) but this game “naturally” had some of those learning skills we so eagerly seek in schools. I’m not sure how much those Breakout Edu games cost, but we purchased “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes” on sale for under $10 and you can download different manuals so the challenges are fresh and new. I hope I can find the time to introduce it to some of our staff or students – they’d really enjoy it.