This is a post about a silly EA themed game I organised in London this year. All resources included in this post are free for you to use for your own EA events with the following caveats:
- If after reading this you have task ideas, please submit them here and they might be used in my next event: GoogleForm | EA Taskmaster 2023 Task Ideas
- If you want to run one of these yourself, I recommend reading my thoughts and suggestions in the logistical points for organisers section
- If you do run one of these, I would love to hear about it (and see photos 😀). Please get in touch - you can message me here on the forum or contact me on Twitter glpat (@glpat99) / Twitter.
I had a fabulous time putting it together and the feedback from attendees was really positive so if this sounds like your kind of “organised fun” then I hope this post is helpful/inspiring. Thanks to Romy and Vania from the London EA women & NB meet-up who pushed me to make this my first forum post!
In June 2022, I ran an EA themed game that was a mix between a scavenger hunt, the TV show Taskmaster and a party quest game. It was made up of 89 tasks (some EA themed, some just silly) to be completed by competing teams over the course of an afternoon.
The idea was that there would be too many tasks for a team to complete in the time limit and they would have to do some task prioritisation. When I was thinking about what tasks should be included, I wanted a range of tasks that could be thought of in terms of scale, neglectedness and tractability, so that it would be a much lower stakes game version of cause prioritisation:
- Scale: There was a large variation in point values across the tasks, not necessarily in proportion to their difficulty. Also, some tasks were repeatable (with accumulating points) while others were one-offs.
- Neglectedness: For some tasks the points would only go to the team with the best entry or the points would be split between all teams that submitted. This incentivised completing tasks that no one else was completing.
- Tractability: There was a large range of task difficulty, with hard tasks not necessarily being rewarded with extra points.
In fact, one of the tasks was to send in the best task prioritisation spreadsheet for the tasks in this game. As per the Taskmaster game show, final point allocation was at the discretion of the Taskmaster (me) and was based on ingenuity, grit and entertainment value.
Huge thanks to my EA friends in London for helping me think of tasks. Also, shout out to the Party Quest spreadsheet for providing many of the fun non-EA themed filler tasks.
I am conscious that posting all the tasks would spoil the game for potential players so I have provided a small selection of some of the tasks and submissions from this year’s event.
Task 24: Sculptor (2000 points)
Construct the most beautiful trophy out of random objects and deliver it to the Taskmaster.
The winner’s podium with the constructed trophies given in order of the Taskmaster’s preference
Task 19: I’m Thirsty (800 points)
Bring the taskmaster the best cocktail.
The Taskmaster on her homemade throne graciously accepting her third cocktail of the afternoon
Task 51: An Order From the Ministry* (500 points)
Create the silliest walk
Task 67: Very Culture, Much Topical, Wow (1000 points)
Recreate a meme in real life and photograph/video it. The more elaborate the better.
Task 68: Getting down with the kids (1000 points)
Create an EA themed tiktok
Structure of game
There were four categories of task which were based on how points are allocated.
- Winner take all: All the points were awarded to the team whose task submission is deemed the best by the TM
- Zero sum: Points were split between all teams who submitted for a task. The TM decided how the points were split. If you were the only team to submit and the TM thought your submission was satisfactory, you were guaranteed the full point value.
- Multipliers: These tasks, if completed, would multiply your points at the end of the game.
- Cumulative tasks: These tasks could be completed an unlimited number of times, with points accumulating each time. Points for submission of these tasks were non-competitive.
- 1pm - Start time
- 3pm - 1.5x point multiplier submission (natural break for teams)
- 6pm - Submission deadline
- 6-7pm - Break for calculation of final scores (chance to grab dinner)
- 7pm - Presentations of photo highlights and announcement of the winners
Teams of 6-8 people - (ideally randomised so you can get to know new EAs).
- Teams create Whatsapp groups
- Points for best team name
- Points for team photo
- Each team had an “Alex” who was just someone in each team who was in charge of “vibes” ie.
- Making sure everyone in their team felt included
- Trying their best to keep things fun and cooperative within the team
- Looking out for team members that are not taking care of themselves (ie. drinking water, having breaks, eating food, getting stressed)
- Setting norms against cheating and bad faith submissions (funny and in bad faith was sometimes acceptable at the discretion of the taskmaster)
- Being the tiebreaker in case of any disputes
- Generally understood EA terms and could explain if team members had questions
Proof of task completion
- Photo/video of task completion
- Delivery of items to Taskmaster
- Performance of task to Taskmaster
- I spent some time thinking about how I could make this game inclusive to all EAs but some of the tasks do involve travelling around London or are physically demanding. Some notes on this:
- Some tasks do require team members to go to specific locations or do physically demanding things. However, teams will be 6-8 members and can split up based on preference and ability.
- There are 89 tasks in the game and part of the challenge is that you have to prioritise, preferences on tasks can be included in prioritisation.
- I gave people the option to message me privately to flag an accessibility issue in advance so that I could take it into account for team allocation.
- I would also note that there are a couple of tasks that specifically ask for teams to spend money (<£5) to find items. This adds to a maximum of £20 per team. As with all tasks, these are optional and if you are able to do them without spending money then that is fantastic.
- The Taskmaster is the final arbiter point allocation and should value clever and creative over high expense solutions
Logistical points for organisers
Things I did that were useful
- Hand out different coloured ribbons to identify different teams.
- Print out paper copies of the tasks and instructions. Put them in envelopes with pens and ribbon so they could be easily handed to teams.
- Having an “Alex” in each team took the pressure off me a lot as I felt like I could trust these people to keep the game on track (sorry Yellow team - you did so well despite your lack of Alex!!)
- The incentive to submit as many tasks as possible by 3pm really helped me on the backend by giving me more time to organise submissions.
What would I do differently next time:
- I would add more fundraising elements (if you haven’t donated already - shout out to the EA Meme Twitter 2022 Giving Season Fundraiser · Giving What We Can.)
- I would remove the submission deadline for the Cause Prioritization spreadsheet. Did not have the time to review it that early on.
- I would have one place for submissions. On the back end, trying to upload everything that wasn’t on a form to my google drive was a nightmare.
- I would ditch cumulative tasks (or find a better way to count them) as the google forms that I used for this took ages to sort out on the back end.
- I would add more directly competitive tasks. I really enjoyed the last minute Bogies game.
- I think I put too high a weight on not allowing teams to see what others were doing (mostly to encourage upfront strategizing) but in hindsight I don’t think this was the most fun part. I also think it would have encouraged further creativity (as teams one up each other) and would have meant that all tasks would have been attempted when people saw that no-one had done them.
- I would be more explicit that the scale neglectedness and tractability framework could be used. While I designed the task list with this in mind, most teams did not explicitly use it in their prioritisation spreadsheet.
Thoughts on how you could customise this for your purposes
- When asking people about my ideas for this event, there was quite a lot of push back on the length. My logic is that if it were any shorter than 5 hours, people would feel too anxious to take breaks for food etc whereas I did see a lot of people take time (especially after the 3pm deadline). For the 2023 event, I plan on having it be the same length
- You could cut many of the tasks to create a shorter game and it would function similarly
The tasklist and backend spreadsheet (FINALLY!)
- This is the instruction and task list that was handed out to each team: Taskmaster Instructions for Participants
- Excel version of full task list: EA TaskMaster Tasks
- Backend excel for totalling points and organising teams: TM Control Centre
- Google doc for sharing results, point allocations and pictures: Anonymised 2022 EA Taskmaster Results and Reflections
Have fun folks!
The impetus for this came from a conversation I had with a friend where they said that despite working for an EA organisation and attending conferences, they had not been able to build casual friendships with other folks driven by EA. Conversations seemed to devolve into professional networking which, while important, can be exhausting and serves a different function than connection with those who share your values. I think this is really important in the conversation about EA mental health and would be keen to chat to people with ideas on how to work on this in London.
Thanks to Ali, Conrad, Chris, Amber, David, Sam, Toby and Reuben for your task suggestions. Most of the excellent EA themed ones came from these guys so very lucky to have them on board!
Special thanks to Conrad who was amazing in the early stages to bounce ideas off of and to hype me up. Gutted you didn’t make it but there’s always next year :D
Honourable mention to my housemates who were very patient about the mess I made while painting the throne.
Shout out to Beth Cunningham who sat on the phone with me for about an hour coming up with pun-tastic names for the tasks - I’m so very lucky to have this word-play whizz in my life <3 I love you from your Take My Breath AWeigh to your Fer-Addme <3 (While she deserves most of the credit, I demand recognition for “A Hidden Gem”).
Special thanks to Nathan Young who has been incredibly supportive during the run up to this while I was bouncing from excitement to dread that no-one was going to show up.