As stated in one of my previous posts, I love working with intelligent and passionate people: interns, juniors or seniors, it really doesn’t matter. There was a time in our startup’s life when most of our colleagues were interns or juniors and you could actually tell that by the number of mistakes we were producing on a daily basis, much to the despair of our CTO who was tired of cleaning up the mess that seemed never ending.

That’s when we literally invented this game, inspired by The Hunger Games movie series, which we called: “The Hunter“. We presented it to the team and we all started playing it for the next couple of sprints. The purpose of the game was to induce responsibility to each and every member of our team by acknowledging mistakes, learning from them and hopefully growing into a trustworthy colleague the entire team can rely on.

I bet you’re dying to hear the game-play. Basically, there are two types of players: The Hunter and Rabbits. Initially, The Hunter is chosen randomly from within the team (we used a game of raffle) and the rest of the members are the Rabbits. Each rabbit starts off with 100 points and, during the sprint, each mistake that is spotted by The Hunter triggers a penalty in points for that rabbit. The game ends with the sprint and whoever is left with the biggest number of points on the board, gets to be The New Hunter and everything starts all over again.

Now, you might have a few questions, such us:

  • How many points should The Hunder deduct for each mistake?
  • What happens if a rabbit gets to 0 points?
  • What if there are two or more rabbits with the same number of points left on the board?
  • Is it fair for The Hunter to be replaced by a rabbit who is left with an extreme low number of points, but still the winner of the sprint?
  • Wouldn’t it be fair to award points when a good job is being done?

The beauty is that the rules can be whatever you feel is best for your team. In our case we started with the very basics and ended up adding new rules after each iteration:

  • We agreed on the value of penalty for each type of mistake: if it’s a bug, -5; if it’s a task that hasn’t been finished on time, -10; if you forgot to do something (like sending a certain e-mail), -1;
  • One time, we ended up with 3 rabbits with the same number of points at the end of the sprint. That’s when we used a game of raffle to decide The New Hunter.
  • After a few sprints we agreed that a New Hunter should be assigned only if he/she scored at least 75 points (as a rabbit) at the end of the sprint.
  • We also started awarding points for those rabbits that have proven to be truly efficient at doing their jobs.

We’ve played this 4 or 5 times and I was surprised to see my colleagues’ reactions, first to the idea of introducing such a game in our daily activity, then to contributing with rules to be applied in the next sprint. But by far one of the most unexpected and intriguing reactions was when a rabbit actually went to the board and penalized itself for the mistake that The Hunter didn’t even noticed.

Do you see your team playing this game? What do you think the reactions will be? Who do you think The Absolute Hunter will be?