Designing a Digital Card Game to Teach Empathy

In these times of uncertainty and civil rudeness, many organizations are taking it upon themselves to create empathy training. The idea is to help individuals become more empathetic with co-workers, customers and clients. It’s a worthwhile endeavor that should be taught at all levels of society.

Types of Empathy

However, what many people miss is that there is more than one type of empathy. In fact, research has revealed a number of ways in which people can be empathetic. Here is a brief review of four types of empathy.

  • Perspective Taking (PT) –Reported tendency to spontaneously adopt the psychological point of view of others.
    • I find that I am often “aligned” with the moods of others.
  • Empathic Concern (EC) –tendency to experience feelings of sympathy and compassion for unfortunate others
    • When someone else is feeling excited, I get excited as well.
  • Personal Distress (PD) –tendency to experience distress and discomfort in response to extreme distress in others.
    • When I see someone taken advantage of, I feel protective toward them.
  • Cognitive Empathy (CE) –intellectual understanding of another person’s situation
    • I find it difficulty understand what makes customers happy

Empathy Training

When organizations begin to think about empathy training, one thing they often consider is how to effectively convey the different types of empathy to their learning audience. One way that we have found to be particularly effective is to create an empathy game design specifically to help learner recognize the different types of empathy. We are currently in the design process of the game and will be rolling it out in the near future.

Game Play

The digital card game we designed is tentatively called “Expanding the Empathy Experience.” The game was design with two primary goals. The first was to help the players understand the different types of empathy and the second was to help them discover how they have been empathetic and what type of empathy they typically exhibit.

The game is played in the following fashion. The facilitator creates teams of six players each. Then a person is randomly selected to go first.

When the person goes, they draw a statement card. The statement card will represent one of the four types of empathy. When a card is revealed, the players play “Empathy Identification” cards and they must match the correct type of empathy with the statement on the revealed card. At the end of the game, the player with the most points wins.

However, we added a little twist. Shuffled into the empathy deck are five “Listen” cards, these cards request that the player describe a situation (ideally from their past) where they have exhibited empathy (there is a prompt card to help them think of a situation).

The player who draws the “Listen” card need to describe a situation where they were empathetic and decide (for themselves, the type of empathy they displayed). Then, the other players play their “Empathy Identification” card and try to match the right type of empathy. Whoever plays the right type of “Empathy Identification” card wins.

Purpose of the Game

But the idea is not so much who wins and how does not. The real strength of the game lies in the fact that the players have to think about their own empathic past and how they have been empathetic. Recalling past experiences and identifying them as a type of empathy will help the players to think more deeply about being empathetic. It will reveal to them how easily or how difficult it was for them to recall a time when they were empathetic. Additionally, they will hear how others exhibited empathy and they will learn from examples, consider the instances in their own lives and, hopefully, display more empathy in their daily lives.

Need your own game?

If you want to create your own digital card game to help increase engagement and combine corporate learning with a little bit of fun, contact us for a demo to learn how easy is it to create effective, impactful digital card games to connect learners over a distance, drive home key learning points and track learner progress.

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