Reading Time: 5 minutes
When some of us go to social gatherings, be it parties or events, filled with people we don’t know, we often are overwhelmed with social anxiety feelings that freezes our minds. It makes us want to isolate ourselves from others in fear of saying the wrong things and being judged. Besides that, some of us also don’t know exactly how to start a conversation, so we stand awkwardly aside, waiting for someone to talk with us.
That is why most of us will bring trusty friends to these social gatherings to lessen the anxiety effects, but often enough, we keep having the same feelings and behaviors described before. So we started looking for outlets. For example, using our smartphones to communicate with each other by text even though we are face to face or going along with someone’s suggestion to play a game. Especially multiplayer games of console couch co-op, card games, or board games usually.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, social phobia and social anxiety just got worse and worse. However, the online social events and rise of online communities helped lessen it because we no longer need to be face to face with people, and we can hide first before showing ourselves when we feel more comfortable. There is not the feeling of the eyes looking directly at you and judging you.
But I keep wondering two questions:
- Once this pandemic is over and we go back to physical and social gatherings with our friends or other people, will we be able to reconnect with them?
- How could I create an entertaining media that would break the ice among the anxious, introverted, more social phobics and everyone, and provide a space or means to get to know each other without the fear of judgment by our peers.
How does it work?
With this in mind, I created Ice-Quebras (pronounced as “Ai-se-Ke-bruh-ss”), a social table game that can be played with 2 to 16 people in groups of 2 to 4, plus a host who is in charge of overseeing the game and explain how it works, so that more introverted, extraverted, nervous or anxious people can finally put that anxiety aside and have some fun while getting to know each other.
The name came from a mixture between Ice-Breaker and its Portuguese counterpart Quebra-Gelo, and the sound of it suggest something along this lines:
Ah! If we break these annoying anxieties, fears, and discomforts, we can finally solidify friendships and get rid of those shaky feelings!
At the beginning of the game, the host lets the players choose one out of the numbered colored cards facing down. The ones with the same colors should move to the front of the button with the same one of their team. The person who gets the card with the number one is the first to play.
You will have to interact with this device that works as a container for the four categories of challenge cards, and it also works as a randomizer of who gets to play against your team, choosing the challenge itself. On the center, there is a timer that counts down the time to complete them.
After endless research, I concluded that the challenges should have a period that would allow people, who are more introverted and anxious, to have time to think and answer or do specific tasks. Most people also enjoy the competitive and collaborative part of games, and I thought those traits could be used to build trust among people and diverge them from their anxiety and discomfort.
As such, Ice-Quebras incorporates these challenges’ categories:
- Ice-Breakers (Quebra-Gelo): it is played within each team member and all teams simultaneously, where each one has a specific task to perform to reach a common goal. For example, turning a circular rope into the shape of a square, building a marshmallow tower, and drawing what the others draw on your back with their finger.
- Improvisation (Improvise): it’s played one team against another, based on theatrical improvisation as seen in projects like Improváveis by Barxixas. Especially the ones of “Só Perguntas,” “Abecedário” and another one that I suggested, called The Island, where one player knows the name of a category but cannot say it to the other players. They need to figure out by suggesting objects from it to enter the island and win the round.
- Conversation (Conversas): it’s played among the members of each team. Join two by otwo within your team, look at the theme of the card and the example questions and ask all the questions you can remember about that theme in 5 minutes. You can also comment and develop or making more questions using your teammate ones as a reference.
- There will be themes about: Food, Arts and Entertainment, Sports, Travelling, Hobbies, Work, Studies, Family and Home city.
- Besides those, there will be challenges on Pick Your Poison, the “Would you prefer this or that” kind of questions.
- Memory (Memoria): it’s played one team against another, alternating between the players of each team by order — #1 from team blue, #1 from green, #1 from yellow, #1 from pink, #2 blue, #2 green… until the #4 —, and each will have to say one small detail of each participant by that same order. Among the themes are: Names, Tastes, Interested and What do you do.
- #1 Blue says: “My name is Ines and I like to draw”;
- #1 Green would say: “Her name is Ines, she likes to draw. My name is Pedro, and I like to watch series” and so on.
The players would have five to ten minutes to say all names and tastes. There will be two rounds to give the first players a chance to remember and pay attention to the other’s answers. In this second round, the players that already spoke something should develop more about their taste:
- What kind of series do you watch?
- What do you like to draw?
- What kind of books do you read? And so on.
Besides that kind of challenge, there was going to be a sort of Two Truths and One Lie card and specific topics like the ones from the Conversations cards.
How can Ice-Quebras help social anxiety?
In conclusion, we often feel social anxiety because we tend to overthink our situation and stress about others’ feelings. We never want to hurt someone with the wrong words or make a fool out of ourselves, and we hate to feel the weight of the eyes staring at us, judging us every millisecond. So we end up isolating ourselves on a corner, waiting for someone to talk to us, or just avoiding people in general.
I felt exactly like that when I was young and decided to just stick to my corner and let people come and talk to me if they were so interested. But now, as a grown-up, I told myself that people around me, strangers or not, have much more to think about than to judge you, and they have similar interests than you, so why not just, at least, listen to what people are talking about and pick a conversation from there? Or wait for them to ask something? For instance, if you ask me for help or anything, I’ll answer in a heartbeat.
Know it’s your turn to talk. Let me know in the comments what situations would make you feel anxious at parties or events and how you overcome them.
Do you remember playing games at parties too? What do you think of them? Would you be interested in knowing more about this project of mine? What is your opinion about it? Let us know in the comments, and thank you for this reading!
You can also see the whole project here.