The Table Game

by | Nov 1, 2019 | Klog | 3 comments

10 min read

To think - coming up to 20 years since I designed this game for my college students in computing - to improve communication! 


If you would like a copy of the original booklet published on 2004 you can download the pdf here.

Here is a series of videos that give you some idea of how it may help your understanding of training:


  1. Iris Maxfield

    Interested in how this actually plays out when linking the learning to dogs, I understand whats said above.

    “For college assignments they had to develop written instruction sheets, which needed to be “proven” by other builders, and the skills to develop better language, clearer communications (which was the module) and learning to express in a way that did not include jargon”

    I admit to being full of jargon (especially if I lose a word “thingamajig” replacing platform could be my plaster)

    But we communicate by giving of ourselves when training too, very often with out being conscious of what we give out. I see the link there to the above explanation of the game, in as being aware of what is being communicated.
    I also think for me that it links putting random objects on the floor, sitting in a chair and just leaving the dog to work it out, do something, which spells out frustration to me, watching the video, the moves are very clinical with no expression.

    Would like to understand more about that, thinking on the lines that the people playing the game understand the rules already, but applying the game to animal training, they don’t get to read the rules.
    I did try it once many years ago when it was first out a friend did a workshop day and this was part of the afternoon.

    As a “game” it looks interesting, I can imagine its fun, especially if the person with the marker is given a set route of behaviours to a conclusion on folded paper once sat in the chair, opposite the learner/subject.

    I’m seeing it as a “raising the cognitive skills” game. Would that be a fair/unfair description?

    • Kay

      “the moves are very clinical with no expression.”

      I think that is often the outward appearance when you are concentrating very hard on getting something “right”, and worrying deeply about not getting it “wrong”.

      Even when training a non-human species, part of the teaching is to be able to be emotionally supportive but not overwhelming, or cheer leading the learn step-by-step. That occasional sucking of breathe, a sigh at the wrong moment and the learner stop puzzle solvingand begins to seek approval. A computer, with no emotional support is often the better teacherwhen it is a skill we need to teach ourselves.

      But that computer can also break down the criteria if there is too long a gap between success …….

      I would not recommend you shape towards a set outcome, but rather you shape the skills of learning and the skills of teaching. A fixed outcome “line all the toys in a row” is more likely to lead to disappointment with non-achievement, but “teach the principle of targets” is open to adapt to both learner and teacher.

  2. Iris Maxfield

    Be interested to hear from others that have played the game, how they related the game to the training they were doing, and any light bulb moments had while playing.


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