Gameception / Abduction – The team game that creates itself!

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TL;DR Get yourself some office supplies, a pouch or box, write the game rules on a flipchart, write a couple of quests on an empty card and have fun!

Time: 15 – 30 min.           People: 2- any (4-6 recommended)
Good for: Explain usage of user stories and acceptance criteria/Creativitiy/Energizer/FUN!

Gameception is a cooperative game of creativity and fun. We found it’s a fun way of getting people to think out of the box. Furthermore it can explain what happends when you throw 3 sentence user stories to a team and not refine them. You can also use it several times in a team this way it will really be a game the team created itself.

Abduction is the alien abduction themed version of Gameception. The rules stay the same. With Abduction however the narration is that people are abducted by aliens that want to experiment on you as a group. The experiments are the quests which shows how creative people are.

Materials needed:

  • Empty ‘play card sized’ paper
  • A spinning top to keep the time (if you don’t have one use a timer. 1 spin = 45 seconds)
  • You need about 11 to 15 items. (less for more creativity)

The nice thing about the game is that can be created with a lot of different materials at hand. The game was initially created with the gamification kit of Play4agile. The contents of the kit is displayed below. You can however easily play the game with office materials like pens, sticky notes, staplers, magnets or everything you can find. Advisable is to have at least some fun small objects (something in between the size of a pawn and sticky notes) Furthermore some standard game elements might make the game more fun (Dice, pawns, tokens and several Tombola items)

Play4Agile gamification kit:

  • Pencil case (any box fitting the materials will do)
  • Balloon (uninflated)
  • Marker
  • Spinning Top
  • 3 Story dice
  • Pirate gems (tokens)
  • Small role tape
  • Decks of unwritten paper cards (to write quests on)
  • A yellow sticky man (but purple should be just fine ;-) )
  • Yellow token stickers
  • 2 pawns
  • 4 dice


  • Put all the materials you have in a pouch
  • Have the quest cards shuffled

If this is the first time you play the game you need to create at least 2 quest cards, but if you don’t want to let the game create itself entirely you can already write some quests in advance (see a list of quests below)

Rules of the game

The game is played in several rounds till the end goal is reached. Each round has the following phases:

  1. Each player randomly picks an item from the box till you have in total 6 items in total.
  2. Draw a quest card from the deck
  3. Play the quest!
  4. Determine if you win or lose the quest (if the card has no win /lose condition skip this step)
    1. Did you win?

The next round you have 1 (or 2; harder level) item less to play a quest (Example: you’ve played this round with 6 items in total. You won! The next round you play with 5)

  1. Did you lose?

The next round you have 1 item extra to play a quest

  1. Remove 1 item  that you used this round from the game. (This is done regardless of if you won or lost or did not have a win/loose condition)

Repeat these steps until you either meet the win or lose goal.

End game

Win: After you won a quest in the round were could pick 3 items in total.
Lost:  After you lost a quest where you started a round with picking 7 items in total.

Quests (will be updated with more quests)

  • The Gameception quest (This is the only quest needed to start the game. See preparations)
    • Create a mini game with the item at hand. Write down the quest on an empty card. (shuffle back in to the deck afterwards)
    • Build a tower of 10cm high
    • Hit item A with item B at a certain distance
    • Create a story with the items at hand (nice for retrospective purposes)
    • Split the player group in 2. 1 group creates a tune with the item. Group 2 has to guess what tune it is.
    • Get 42 points
Have you created new cool quests? post them in the review and I shall update them here.


-          Have a facilitator ask the team if a quest is won or lost, but let the team be creative and decide themselves.

-          Quests are better if they are potentially playable with other items. The items are just to get the creativity flowing. As facilitator try to remind the team of this. Play testing is allowed of course. As facilitator you might even encourage that. How else do you know it’s possible to succeed the quest? Also try to think about time/tries (constraints) and win/lose conditions.

-          Have a retro afterwards and find out what people think about it. Show that everybody can be creative and that judging whether a quest is fulfilled was determined by themselves (telling a lot about how we deal with acceptance criteria/user stories and Definition of done during work)


Gameception was created at Play4Agile in Feb 2016. Daniel Hommel mentioned in the open space he had a gamification kit of the previous play4agile still closed in the drawer. Since he wanted to prevent this for the current kit he encouraged us to come up with a game based on the kit. Tim Yevgrashyn  and I came with the initial idea. After an additional open space we game played the game and tweaked the game the following day with several participants of Play4Agile 2016. Gameception has now been played on half a dozen conferences, teams I’ve worked with and a couple of my friends. It proofs to be a game quite a lot of people like and want t reproduce. Thank you all to encourage me to describe the game and share it with the world.

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5 Responses to "Gameception / Abduction – The team game that creates itself!"
  • Prashant Deshmukh August 7, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    I am a little bit confused here. Do we have to set the end goal before starting the game? Or, each quest card is a goal?


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  • Eddy Bruin October 20, 2017 at 6:30 am

    Hi Prashant,

    The goal of the game is to finish a quest with 3 items.
    Each quest in itself is a mini game that is played each round. Hope that helps :)

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  • Udo January 4, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    I was one of the early beta-testers of Gameception during Play4Agile conference where the game was created and loved it.
    I was sceptical upfront whether a game can create itself but it really worked and to build new challenges was big fun.
    The idea is sheer genius!

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  • Cenk Erdil January 19, 2018 at 11:13 am

    This sounds like a great idea, planning to use it in my software engineering course.

    Does anyone have example quests that worked well before?

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  • E. Bruin February 20, 2018 at 5:07 am

    Hi Cenk,
    Cool that you would like to pick this up. Gameception did have an upgrade in terms of flavouring which enables people to play it with a theme called Abduction. I’ll update the post accordingly.

    In the meantime let me give you some examples of quests that work well:

    o Create a new mini-quest with items in hand. Write down the quest on a blank card and shuffle it in the quest deck. This card has to be in there, but you would not like it to be the first. I often cheat by putting it in 3rd or 4th.
    • Build a Rocket with a pointy tip and a large base (Time: 2 spins)
    • Keep something spinning for at least 10 seconds (5 attempts)
    • Build a self-standing tower which is taller than the largest item drawn (Time: 2 spins)
    • Get 42 Points (Time: 1 spin) I found this quest to be very cool, because it can spin some great creativity. For a first quest though it is not very suitable since it gives groups to much freedom without experiencing the concept of the game first.
    • Narrate a story about what you did as a team today (No win/ lose condition)
    • Build a house of cards (1 story high) (Use the event cards. No items needed) (Time: 5 Spins)
    • Create a tune with the items in hand. Spit players in 2 teams. 1 group plays the tune. The other group needs to guesses the tune (3 guesses allowed) (See the video!)
    • Make at least 2 items move without touching them at the same time. (5 attempts)
    • Use item A to hit item B that hits item C. Each items is placed one foot length away from each other (3 attempts)
    • Place 2 items on top of a pen (Time: 2 spins)
    • Let an item stick after throwing it (5 throws)
    • Place item A at 2 meter distance. Throw any item in hand within a distance from the length of Item A. (3 throws)

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