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What Are Sprint Retrospective Games?

Sprint retrospectives are the last step of the Scrum workflow before a team starts planning for the next sprint. Its purpose, as explained in the Scrum Guide, is to “plan ways to increase quality and effectiveness.”

Sprint retrospectives are preceded by Sprint reviews, where teams review the work completed and determine whether the sprint goal was achieved. By the time the team has completed this meeting, they may begin to suffer from “sprint fatigue” and lack motivation to tackle the next step. This is where sprint retrospective games come in handy.

What sprint retrospective games aim to achieve

Ultimately, the goal is the same as that of the sprint retrospective itself — to determine the processes, interactions, workflows, and tools that worked and didn’t work. What differs is the method by which this is achieved. Gamification helps team members remain engaged and makes the process more enjoyable. They can also help new team members break the ice in a less formal setting.

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Ideas for sprint retrospective games

Searching online for sprint retrospective games yields a surprising number of results. Here are a few of the best sprint retrospective games for Scrum teams:

  • Lego retrospective - Teams build models of anything then want that represents the last sprint. This then becomes a point of discussion. This is an opportunity for the team to express themselves more creatively and share ideas from different points of view.

  • Explorers, shoppers, vacationers, prisoners (ESVP) - In this game team members anonymously identify themselves with the persona that best reflects their attitude towards the completed sprint:

  • Explorers seeking new ideas and learnings
  • Shoppers interested in at least one useful piece of information
  • Vacationers keen to participate in retrospectives just to get away from their usual tasks
  • Prisoners who don’t want to attend at all

  • Retrospective bingo - Retrospective Bingo follows the same rules as regular Bingo, but the numbers are replaced by Agile terms. You can generate cards online at Buzzword Bingo.

Invent your own sprint retrospective games

In his Creating a Homemade Retrospective Game blog post, John Vester describes an adaptation of Monopoly a colleague of his created. Some other popular games may adapt well too.

An idea for an online version that can be set up and played on Wrike’s Kanban board view could be a “Pass the User story” game based on the popular kid’s game, “Pass the story.”