At Toast VR, we have some amazing partners using Richie’s Plank Experience for all kinds of unique applications and we always love to see the amazing content that comes out of their sessions. One of our closest partners is Steamed Egg VR, a virtual reality team building and events company based in London, UK. Their team does a fantastic job of using Richie’s Plank Experience for team building, and they’ve written a blog about it.
Introducing their Head Steamer, Jason Leigh to share how they do it, and the reasons why Richie’s Plank Experience makes such a great activity for team building.
(All suggestions and comments below are from Steamed Egg VR)
If you’ve ever had the joy of booting up Richie’s Plank Experience VR with a large group of people, you’ll know what an awesome ruckus it creates!
But, dig beneath the laughter, cries of fear and gasps of awe, there are some other equally amazing things happening.
Virtual Reality (VR) team building companies like us at Steamed Egg (UK) and team building VR (LA) have discovered that Richie’s Plank Experience is a secret gem that livens up team building events and also makes a real impact on the dynamics between people.
So, here’s our top 8 reasons why Richie’s Plank Experience and team building are a match made in heaven!
1) You are doing something very different together
Going for beers, dinner or bowling is a great laugh, but after you’ve done it 200 times over, it can get a bit samey. People need new, differentiated activities for them to stand out in their memories.
The good news is that even in 2020, virtual reality is one of few activities that almost no one in your company with will have tried, and most definitely won’t have done as a group.
There’s no silver bullet to team culture but regularly trying new, challenging things outside of work and allows your team to view themselves as an “adventurous” bunch. That self-image will carry through into their attitudes at work.
2) Presence: Richie’s Plank grabs people’s attention
These days, if team building activities aren’t genuinely top notch, you’re not going to break through the wall of distraction. This wall is built from endless to-do lists, inboxes bursting at the seams with demands and impending deadlines. Our 21st century work cultures can mean that switching off is often a true challenge. When we’re asking the team to pull away from their work in the name of “Culture”, it’s so important to deliver an activity that feels worthy of their time. The consequences of failing to do this may include resistance to participating in the future.
Fortunately, after putting thousands of guests down the plank, we can promise you that Richie’s Plank Experience delivers the Wow! factor every time. The unique nature of the challenge forces us to confront a scenario many of us have thought about before when at the top of a tall building. In many ways, it’s familiar, and the desire to see how others cope with the situation means people can’t look away from the action.
The suspense of the potential fall and the competitive dynamic combination means that your team will be hooked from the get-go!
3) It creates an unforgettable event
Organising a team event means investing a lot of time, effort and money into getting the team together. At the very least you’ll want to come away with a fantastic memory. Fortunately, VR plays some awesome tricks on the brain that mean the ROI on your efforts is amplified, in terms of how memorable it is.
- New experiences cause the brain to release dopamine (Source) that heighten your ability to store memories. Think about how clearly you can remember the first time you did pretty much anything.
- VR is a very special medium that activates the hippocampus, which conveniently is the part of the brain that looks after special awareness and long-term memory. That’s why we can remember the things we do, better than the things we read or hear. (Source)
- The emotions caused by the game give a deeper dimension to your experience which means they stand out in your long-term memory. (Source)
Not only will you have a fantastic time throughout the event, but the buzz, laughter and stories will survive long after the VR packs up and the team gets back to their desks.
4) A bit of healthy competition gets the energy going
“How is Richie’s Plank Experience a competitive game?”. It’s not really, but if you get a bit creative with the Doughnut mode you can turn it into a scoring system. In the PC VR version of Richie’s Plank Experience, you can press “M” on your computer keyboard and select Doughnuts where it says, “Place Item on Plank”. Upon arrival at the top of the lift, you’ll be greeted with a full stack of doughnuts at the end of your plank.
The aim of the game is to get the doughnuts safely back into the lift. One point for one doughnut and two bonus points for getting all 4 back on the plate without dropping ANY.
Let’s be honest, Richie’s plank is a very silly game when you compare it to a sport or the more adult VR games of this world. The high drama, competitive action comes from waiting to see if someone has the nerve and steady hand to score big without falling off or messing up their doughnut retrieval mission.
Placing two VR stations side by side enhances the drama further. Taking the plunge by stepping off once you’ve banked the points in the lift is highly recommended and great for cheers!
5) Supporting each other creates unity and trust
Walking out of a skyscraper is no easy feat, even in the virtual world. While your opponents may be laughing as you recoil at the 80 storey drop below, your teammates will be right there to encourage you. We have seen the most heart-warming displays of unity from our guests as they cheer on their colleagues to tackle the challenge ahead of them.
There are few greater moments at our VR team building events then when the room erupts with applause and cheers as a player brings home 6 points after being encouraged to persevere through their plight. The game gives us the opportunity to come head to head with one of the most common human phobias – heights!
We’ve even seen people go up and gently guide their teammates by the hand (depending on how lenient the rules are that day) to help their colleague through their tribulation. It makes stepping off at the end a team trust exercise – “Go on, you can do it!”. Team building at it’s very best!
6) It’s a guaranteed laugh
Scientists have found that laughing together does wonders for your sense of community as a group (Source). The beauty of seeing someone who is scared while also completely safe is that you don’t have to worry about sympathy. The gloves are off and you can laugh away at your colleague’s expense guilt free.
Of course, if your colleague was in real danger, anyone with an ounce of morality would be supportive and sympathetic. But when the situation means they are completely safe, standing on a plank 1cm above the ground, the rules of social etiquette change a bit.
Maybe we’re all a bit twisted but on the plus side the whole room is in hysterics as you face the ground 80 stories (1 cm) below.
7) You’ll get lifelong joy from all the photos and videos
This game, more than almost any other VR game, creates some incredible content (See #RichiesPlankExperience on Instagram). These are clips you will cherish for years as a team, even long after you’ve left the company.
The content is also perfect for showing potential candidates how great your company culture is via your social channels.
We’re all looking for fresh new activities for our team that are affordable, easy to organise and leaves us with that warm fuzzy buzz. Richie’s Plank Experience couldn’t be simpler to organise and can be done in your office. You just need a couple of Oculus Quest VR headsets (Amazon), a copy of Richie’s Plank Experience and a few hours of your time. You can also go bigger and bring in companies like us at Steamed Egg to come and host the event for you!
Richie’s Plank Experience sits at a unique intersection of silly, competitive, nerve testing and high energy. It requires the team to come together and support each other but also creates an atmosphere where people feel comfortable enough to joke with each other and break out of work mode after a hard day or week.
For an activity that is so simple to play and accessible to people of all ages, physical stature and taste there is little else like it that brings so much joy to your office or off-site team building event.
More than anything it triggers laughter. A LOT of it. Which at the end of the day, is the bull’s eye for any team event organiser. It’s a much-deserved break from the daily grind of reality into the depths of what is possible with virtual reality in 2020.
He is also exploring the power of VR to create workplace calm and focus through mediation mindfulness experiences. Follow him on Twitter @JasonRleigh and find more at https://steamedegg.co.uk/