The cooperative games movement dates back to the 1960’s and 70’s. Early pioneers include:
Terry Orlick (Canadian professor of kinesiology; cooperative games inventor and researcher; Olympic coach; and personal performance expert)
Jim Deacove (owner of Family Pastimes games company and pioneering designer of cooperative board games)
Stewart Brand (author of The Whole Earth Catalog and Vietnam war veteran who invented “New Games”—games that emphasized playfulness and joy rather than winning)
Dale LeFevre (game inventor and author of several New Games books)
Pat Farrington (who was connected to the New Games movement but added the insight that trust and cooperation could be built into games so that her games were “not so much a way to compare our abilities but to celebrate them”)
Ken Kolsbun (previous owner of Animal Town, the first manufacturer of cooperative games in the United States and designer of the classic board game Save the Whales. )
CooperativeGames.com got its start in 2009 when Ken Kolsbun retired and Suzanne Lyons turned AnimalTown, aka Child and Nature, into the Internet’s first shop and resource center focused strictly on cooperative play.
Since the early 1970’s, and thanks to the effort and inspiration of the earliest innovators, cooperative games of all sorts (circle games, board games, PE games, ice breakers, educational games, etc.) have spread organically to homes, schools, camps, work places, churches, activist gatherings and other settings around the world syncing up in Europe with a long-standing tradition of “friend games.” Still, cooperative games have remained relatively unadvertised and have not been promoted or produced on a mass scale. This is a mixed blessing, but is perhaps a positive for the integrity of the field. They are a bottom-up rather than a top-down “reform”, evolving as more and more people creatively adapt the idea to their own uses.
As the need for greater cooperation at a societal level becomes clear, public awareness of cooperative gaming grows. The educational community is awakening to them since cooperative games are at the intersection of four major pedagogical trends:
• recognition of the value of play
• cooperative learning
• attention to school climate
• gamification of education for content learning
In addition, cooperative digital gaming is lately attracting the interest of academics and entrepreneurs who recognize that large-scale online cooperative gaming has applicability to sustainability and social justice issues. All factors are converging, and surely cooperative play is blossoming in exciting new ways.
For more on cooperative games, to purchase games, and find free ones, visit CooperativeGames.com.