Mindset Board Game – Play Can Be Serious

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Our guest blog this week comes from Simon Leow. Simon graduated from MAPP 10 class at University of Pennsylvania. He is interested in innovative applications of positive psychology ideas. That is why he created the Mindset Board Game. He is passionate about helping others learn about the science of happiness through play. Check out: www.happinessinitiative.sg or email: simon@happinessinitiative.sg.

The Mindset Board Game (MBG) is the first of its kind in the world (Image 1). It seeks to help players discover the differences between Growth and Fixed mindsets. Three key ideas – Purpose, Play, Practice – will sum up our journey in creating the Mindset Board Game.

Image 1: Mindset Board Game – Students engaged through play. Click to see video.

Purpose – Discovery Through Game Play

Carol Dweck’s (2008) ideas on Growth and Fixed mindsets can be easily summarised in one slide. Everytime when we did that, we felt that this kind of learning was too passive. Suddenly, we wondered how nice if people can play a game and discover the differences all by themselves. All we need to do is help ask a few questions after the game to facilitate their self-discovery. With this purpose in mind, we created the Mindset Board Game.

Play – It’s More Serious Than We Think

Image 2: Mindset Board Game – Students learning through play.

We realise that there is something special about it being in a game. It easily engages the participants (Image 2). And through playing, participants discover the learning themselves. As a result, it sticks with them better.

When we introduce the growth mindset ideas through a presentation workshop, participants are not likely to want to listen to a workshop again. But, when we introduce it through a board game, participants want to play it again. It always inspires us when participants ask if they can play the board game again. Every opportunity at playing the board game, is another opportunity of learning and discovery.

Image 3: Mindset Board Game – Teachers learning through play.

We also realised that children and adults play differently. Children love the game to be simple and direct; adults appreciate a more complex game play. This was a problem that we discovered during our earlier trial sessions. How do we create a board game, to address something as abstract as mindset, that can meet the needs of both adults and children?

Finally, we came up with a solution. The MBG has two versions of cards – Basic and Advanced. The board is designed to accommodate both versions. So, just by changing the decks of cards from Basic to Advanced, and the rules, the MBG can change from a simple game play to a more complex one.

Practice – From Theory to Practice; From Indoor to Outdoor

The Mindset Board Game was created because we challenged ourselves to translate theory to practice. The big question: Can we transfer the lessons from an indoor board game to an outdoor setting? We challenged ourselves further.

We created the Amazing Mindset Race to reinforce the ideas of practice, effort, perseverance, and embracing challenges – ideas that participants have discovered during the Mindset Board Game.

What we saw inspired us. We saw participants putting in tremendous amount of practice and effort to overcome the challenges. They translated what they had discovered in the board game to an outdoor setting.

Image 4 shows a group of children trying to clear the skipping rope together as a team. The basic challenge was to clear it 10 times. It looked easier than it was. Due to fatigue and poor coordination, the skipping rope was likely to get caught by someone.

Image 4: Amazing Mindset Race – Putting in effort and practice to clear the skipping rope station as a team. Click to see video.

After completing the basic challenge, groups were asked if they wanted to advance to the bonus challenge – clear the skipping rope for another five more times. By this time, everyone was exhausted.

The growth mindset ideas that they had learnt through the MBG were finally put to test. All groups embraced the bonus challenge and went on to push themselves to the limit. With practice, effort and sheer determination, all groups cleared the bonus challenge. Some groups jumped close to a 100 times. The euphoria of the group at the end says it all (Video Clip 2).


Purpose, Play, Practice. These three ideas summarised the essence of the Mindset Board Game. The purpose of self-discovery through play and translating the ideas learned to more authentic settings. This is only the beginning. Every workshop we run brings new challenges, as well as, new ideas and inspirations. Creating the Mindset Board Game is very much a growth mindset journey. As with using it to impact lives.

For more information, please check out www.happinessinitiative.sg or email: simon@ happinessinitiative.sg.


Dweck, C. S. (2008). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Ballantine Books.

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