This training game requires you to comparatively evaluate two responses as well as generate your own responses. It is especially suited for acquiring flexible tactics appropriate for different situations.

Matrix is designed to permit loading different training content into the same framework. You can use this template to instantly design your own activities.

Design Principles

This is the instructional principle behind Matrix: Choosing the better of two examples helps you understand what makes a good example. This in turn enables you to create your own good examples.  

For example, if you repeatedly compare pairs of headlines and select the better one, you are well on your way to coming up with good headlines on your own.

Generic Flow of the Matrix Game

Here are the generic rules for the game. Compare them with the specific rules for Communication 101 displayed later.

  • Set up a game board with different values for one factor in the columns and different values for the other factor in the rows.
  • The game involves three players. Assign the roles of judge, selector, and challenger for the first round.
  • The selector chooses a box on the game board for which he or she would like to write a statement that reflects both the column and the row.
  • The selector and the challenger are given 1 minute to write appropriate statements independently and present them to the judge.
  • The judge reads the two statements and selects the one that is more appealing.
  • The player who wrote the statement that was selected wins the box and writes his or her initials in this box.
  • The next round begins with a change of roles: The judge becomes the challenger, the challenger becomes the selector, and the selector becomes the judge.
  • The play procedure is repeated as before.
  • The game continues in this fashion until all the boxes in the game board are occupied.
  • The player with the most boxes wins the game.

Communication 101


To suggest a suitable approach for communicating with a specific audience for a specific purpose


Minimum: 3

Maximum: Any number

Best: 3 to 9.


45 minutes to an hour. You can also play the game for a specific period of time (such as 20 minutes).


  • Game Board. One board for each group of players (See the Preparation section below.)

(Download an print the pdf copy of the game board.)

  • Index cards
  • Pencils or pens


Create the game board. Draw a grid with five columns and five rows. Label the columns with these five types of audiences:

  1. Co-worker
  2. Customer
  3. Manager
  4. Subordinate
  5. Stranger

Label the rows with these five purposes:

  1. Inform
  2. Persuade
  3. Entertain
  4. Inspire
  5. Collect information

Organize the participants into teams. With three participants, each plays individually. With more participants, organize them into three teams of two to five. It does not matter if some teams have an extra member. With more than 15 participants, conduct two or more separate games at the same time.


The following explanations are written for playing a game with three individuals. If the game is played with three teams, the same rules apply to teams.

Begin the activity. Select a player to be the judge. The person on the judge's right is the selector and the other person is the challenger.

Write suggestions. The selector chooses a box on the game board. Both the selector and the challenger independently write a suggestion on an index card for achieving the purpose specified by the row with the audience specified by the column. The judge keeps time and collects the two cards after 1 minute.

Choose a suggestion. The judge reviews the two suggestions and chooses the better one, using any appropriate criteria. This is a forced choice, which means that the judge cannot declare a tie. The judge’s decision is final.

Occupy the box. The player (either the selector or the challenger) who wrote the statement selected by the judge occupies the appropriate box by writing his or her name (or initials).

Play the next round. The next round begins immediately with a reallocation of the roles. The selector becomes the judge, the judge becomes the challenger, and the challenger becomes the selector. The play proceeds as before.

Continue the game. The game continues in this fashion until all 25 boxes in the grid are occupied or when the specified time is over.

Determine the winner. The person who occupies the most boxes in the game board wins the game.

Matrix Games

Here are examples of different training content loaded into the Matrix template:


Participants: New trainers attending a Train-the-Trainer Workshop

Columns: Learning domains: information, procedure, motor skill, interpersonal skill, and attitude

Rows: Training techniques: lecture, role-play, game, handout, video, and e-learning

Response requirement: What precautions should you take in using this training technique in this learning domain?

Sample response: While using a handout on interpersonal skills, be sure to include realistic vignettes that present examples of appropriate behaviors.


Participants: Employees in a cultural diversity workshop

Columns: Minority groups: African-Americans, Asian women, Hispanics, gays and lesbians, and older workers

Rows: Organizational events: hiring, firing, promotion, transfer, and mentoring

Response requirement: What are three salient opinions held by this minority group about this organizational event?

Sample response: During promotions, Asian women believe that their modesty is mistaken for incompetence, their teamwork is mistaken for lack of leadership, and their calm style is mistaken for lack of enthusiasm.


Participants: People in a team-building workshop

Columns: Four stages in the development of a team (according to Tuckman): forming, storming, norming, and performing

Rows: Four team player styles (according to Parker): contributor, collaborator, communicator, and challenger

Response requirement: What is the major role of this team player at this stage of team development?

Sample response: At the performing stage, the challenger confronts the team with indicators of stagnation.


Participants: People in a creativity workshop

Columns: Five random nouns: hand, bridge, happiness, culture, and knife

Rows: Five other random nouns: cow, computer, brain, depression, and napkin

Response requirement: Identify one similarity and one difference between these two items.

Sample response: Both the computer and happiness can be programmed. Happiness has two doubled letters while computer has none.


Participants: Salespeople in a high-tech store

Columns: Five types of electronic equipment: color printer, digital camera, scanner, LCD projector, and large monitor

Rows: Five types of users: small office, large office, home, students, and retired people.

Response requirement: How would you position this electronic equipment to appeal to this type of potential customers?

Sample response: Most older retired people find the text on the large monitor easier to read.

How To Design Your Matrix Games

Before designing your own training game based on Matrix, review the game summaries presented above. Make sure that your instructional objectives have these features:

  • They require a variety of responses.
  • Two different factors influence the choice of the appropriate response.
  • Each factor has several values or levels.

Select factors. Select two factors that influence the responses. Use different values of each of these two factors as labels for columns and rows of the game board. Most of our games use a 5 x 5 grid, but the size of your grid will depend on the levels or values of the factors.

Write rules. Write a set of rules, based on the generic ones presented earlier. Modify the rules to suit your instructional topic and your players.

Self-Test. Self-test the game by writing alternative responses for each space in the grid. If you have difficulties in doing this, modify the factors associated with the rows and columns.

Play-Test. Try out the game with a group of representative players. Modify the game based on their responses and reactions.

Finalize the game. Come up with a catchy title for the final version of the game. Use it in your training sessions.