Sensing, understanding, and responding to the feelings and thoughts of another person is known as empathy. It is the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and feel what they are going through. This enables us to look past our thoughts and beliefs and connect with that of other people.
Empathy is a crucial skill for social beings. It allows us to appreciate the perceptions and intentions of other individuals. In the absence of empathy, people fail to understand the problems of others and consequently, cannot help those who need it.
Encouraging empathy at home and the workplace bridges the gap between individuals and creates a positive environment where people understand each other better. It brings people closer, who live a happy life together or work collaboratively towards a common goal.
In case you are looking for ways to encourage empathy and openness among a group of adults, read on as we bring you a series of online and offline games that you can try out.
Online empathy video games for adults
1. Papo & Yo
In August 2012, creative director Vander Caballero created a fantasy video game to share his childhood experiences with an alcoholic father. As a player, you will play the role of Quico, a Brazilian boy who hides in a closet to save himself from the rages of his alcoholic father. Upon touching a strange chalk mark in the closet, he finds himself in a Brazilian slum where he meets a “Monster.”
Although Monster is a kind and helpful creature, he transforms into a fiery beast when he eats a specific type of poisonous frog. Then, he no longer cares who and what’s around him and starts damaging everything that comes his way. Even Quico cannot escape from his fury and must manage to protect himself. However, he can sometimes use rotten fruit to bring the Monster back to normal.
2. Fragments of Him
Released in 2016, Fragments of Him is an interactive video game that develops empathy in the player toward the characters in the game. The game has four main characters, Will, his grandmother, his ex-girlfriend, and his boyfriend. The story is a first-person narrative about Will, who dies early in the game. As the game progresses, you get to know the perspectives of the main characters and how their life is affected by Will’s death.
Players must click on objects to learn about stories related to that part of the game. When sufficient objects are clicked, you get to move on to the next part. Playing this game lets you experience the lives of the main characters and develop strong empathy as you discover their life experiences and challenges. The game is available on Windows, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.
3. Papers, Please
Papers, Please is a single-player simulation game designed by Lucas Pope. The game was first released in 2013. It is set in a fictional country named Arstotzka. The country recently ended a war with its neighboring country named Kolechia. As a player, you must carry out the job of an immigration officer to make sure individuals with dangerous backgrounds like terrorists, criminals, etc., do not cross the border and get arrested.
To do this, you must check the passports and other paperwork to decide whether to grant or deny admission. If you fail to do your job properly, you get citations and ultimately lose money. The game is considered an empathy game because you interact with people, listen to their stories, and use your sound judgment to make decisions. This award-winning game is available on Windows, Linux, PlayStation Vita, Android, and iOS devices.
4. This War of Mine
Developed and published by 11 Bit Studios, This War of Mine is a game based on surviving a war situation. Unlike other war games where the player is usually a soldier, this game lets you experience what it is like to be a civilian stuck in a war. The game begins with you being stuck in the fictional city of Pogoren, Graznavia, with a group of other survivors. You are responsible for controlling them and taking care of them.
As you cannot go out during the day, you must sneak out at night to arrange for items like food, water, medicines, etc. You can also assemble a radio to get important information like weather and war-related news. At times you encounter other survivors whom you can help with food or medicines. You can also choose to ignore or rob them to ensure your survival. The game is available on various platforms like Windows, Linux, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, Android, and iOS.
Empathy games for adults to play in groups
1. That’s My Truth
This is an interesting game to encourage empathy in grown-ups. Here’s what you need to do –
- Have everyone stand in a circle and let one person take the lead and take a position in the center.
- The person must tell one truth about themselves in front of everyone. It could be anything. For example, “I am 30 years old.”
- Upon listening to the truth, all participants who share the same truth must switch places and try to find another spot in the circle, similar to musical chairs.
- The person who fails to find a spot must go to the center and repeat the game.
While the game starts with simple truths about people, it gets a little intense as the game progresses. Participants share the information which they would otherwise prefer to not say publicly. By doing so, people get to know each other personally, which creates openness and empathy for one another.
2. Pass the Empathy Ball
Use a beach ball to make an empathy ball for this game. Write questions all over it with the help of a marker. Now begin the game –
- Participants can make themselves comfortable by sitting on chairs spread out in the room.
- Let the first person toss the ball in the air and catch it. He/ she must now answer the question under or close to their right thumb.
- Next, the person must call out another person’s name and toss the ball toward them.
- He/ she must now answer the question that’s under or near their right thumb.
- The game goes on till all participants get a chance to answer questions.
Sample questions that you can write on the beach ball are –
- Is there anything you wish other people knew about you?
- Which emoji explains your current state of mind?
- Is there anything you need to let go of?
- Which three things are you thankful for?
- Is there anything you fear?
3. Play Empathy Bingo
This game needs a little preparation before you begin. Get in touch with a bingo expert who can help you prepare bingo cards related to empathy. Once the cards are ready, gather all participants together and explain the rules of the game.
Give one empathy bingo card to every participant. They will now have one week to accomplish all that’s written on the card. They could get in touch with their friends, family, or strangers to get this done. When the participants complete one activity, they can cross it out on the card. The person who finishes all the activities before everyone else wins the game.
You could include things like –
- Actively listen to someone
- Try to understand someone’s emotional state
- Smile at ten strangers in a day
- Acknowledge the life experiences of other people
- Listen and recognize another person’s perspective
Empathetic individuals build strong relationships with family members, peers, and even strangers. They are always ready to lend an ear and a helping hand to people around them. Such people tend to lead a happy and satisfying life, as they are less stressed and more productive at work. Therefore, creating opportunities where people ditch small talk and go deeper to listen to, acknowledge, and feel the emotions other people are dealing with, is crucial. And empathy games and activities are a great means to do so.