Resistance part 2

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So, after the first week of playing resistance, I wrote about it and how excited I was to have a conversation about how the previous week went. When we finally got back together I made time for us to talk about last week’s game. When we sat down to talk about it I got a lot of generic answers about how things went. Not only that but the guy I really wanted to hear his perspective about what his experience was, but he had paroled home that week and was no longer with us. Not having that perspective put a little bit of a cramp into my situation. None the less I figured we could still have a productive conversation and recap what we did the week prior. When all was said and done it was an uneventful conversation. Guys spoke on it and it was decent, but nothing substantial came from it. This is something I had a feeling would happen but took the chance anyway. Perhaps this is a learning moment for me and I need to be sure, no matter what, I carve out that time each group to have those discussions. Maybe this is me putting too much stock into the conversation and not letting it happen organically. Maybe it’s just a hiccup. I don’t know, but defiantly something to learn from. Anyway, since our conversation didn’t go as planned I thought that maybe we could recreate the magic that was the previous week and try again.

All the guys that were there from the week before were really excited and wanted to play again. We had two other guys that didn’t come to group last week, and they were a little indifferent about playing as they had no idea what they were getting into. The other guys did their best to ensure that they would have a good time and the two new guys did agree to play. As a side note, the two new guys are not exactly new. They have been coming to group for a little while, but they don’t come as frequently and are usually less engaged. I think tabletop gaming is not really their thing, but they are here to get off their unit and are willing to try something new. For that, I give them mad props. Anyway, moving forward with the game. So, we played and explained the rules to the other guys as we went on. They seemed to struggle a little bit but did pick it up. I think overall, they had a pretty decent time even though it took a little while for them to catch on. It was fun watching them and seeing how they slowly got into the game and began to pick up the mechanics.

After the game, there was a little discussion about how everything went. However, two of the guys that were there the week before began to argue. To be honest, this was a little surprising to me as they typically get along pretty well for the most part and we have yet to have any issues in group to date. None the less they continued arguing and before you know it they were really frustrated with one another. I must be honest with you guys, that these two gentlemen are pretty highly skilled and at this point, I am not worried about them fighting or anything of that nature. As expected they didn’t, but they did have to take a break from one another. The argument wasn’t necessarily over the game, but more about the perceptions of what the other was thinking. Things really came to a head with one of the guys when one completely disregarded the other’s opinion and refused to see their side. At that point, they agreed to separate and not talk. They both took space from one another and cooled off.

This is not always the right approach but, in this case, I had a very good sense that this would be resolved peacefully. I ended the game and the group shortly after this. Neither were in a space at that time to dive into the root of this issue. However, this did remind me of what I already knew. Sometimes it’s not about the game. Sometimes there is conflict and even though the game may bring it out, it’s not about the game. It’s about the people. In this case, I feel like this game brought out a conversation that probably needed to happen and this was a relatively safe place to have this incident where not a lot of people would be around or could jump it. There was plenty of space for both guys to take their time away from one another. Both guys had the support of their peers as well as a staff if they needed it. I know that in this situation it’s a different environment, but it’s the same outside of these walls. Things won’t always go as planned, in fact, things may go poorly, but I feel like it’s deeper than that. This is about the silver linings. A week later those guys were fine. I talked to their peers and they reported that everything was worked out and they were back to normal. I think this kind of lends itself to what I always thought and what I believe. That games can be a gateway. “Games are the great unifier” – Phis Spencer. Even though the conversation did end in everyone resolving their problems at that moment, some of the other guys got to see how you can have a heated conversation/argument that doesn’t lead to a fight or a broken friendship. I’m a big fan of the silver linings and finding the good in what seems to be poor situations. Even though I didn’t realize it at that moment, and I’m only realizing it at this moment, it provided me with a great conversation point and something to work towards in the future.

I love that games can be a tool. The games are cool, but sometimes the products that get revealed from games are even cooler. It would be easy to walk away from that group and think of it as a total failure. If fact that is what I did at first. It wasn’t until I looked back on the events and realized what it really was. What a really cool opportunity to learn and I can’t wait to share that with the guys.

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I love that you have looked for the “silver linings”. As a reader, my first thought was that the game brought about a catalytic moment. My thesis is always that games bring about a mirror for the self. As a facilitator I feel it is my job to point out the ways that the mirror works. I do not know if you have already had your next session, but pointing out that there was a successful management of conflict, and where possible pointing out the way the game brought that to the front, may help in building a relationship with the cotherapist (the game). The resistance can be crafty because it deals with assumptions about the ways in which we communicate to one another. Bravo for not letting yourself feel like it failed. I have had many sessions where I walked away, thinking the game had failed, but in reality it set the seeds in place for future discussion and a greater openness to conflict. I look forward to your next missive.
Best Wishes,

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