Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction is probably the most popular Marbles product that involves the wonderfully mentally stimulating act of creation. Within its pages building enthusiasts of all ages will find fun and fascinating medieval weapons such as crossbows, catapults and trebuchets that can be constructed with ordinary household supplies. However, the important cognitive experience that this book provides that can’t be found in a Nanoblocks box or a Lego set is the vital act of improvisation.
The ability to make adjustments to a plan on the fly is important, not just for constructing weapons of desktop warfare, but for daily life at work or at play. When I set out to build the paperclip trebuchet, I realized that I did not have a D battery on hand, and was forced to cast about for a suitable replacement. I thought, first of using several AA or AAA batteries, but could not find those either. Finally, I settled on using a set of Buckycubes as a counterweight in my trebuchet and that ended up working perfectly. I managed to complete construction of my weapon and lay siege to many an imaginary miniature castle.
Many other Marbles products force players to improvise; Tangoes make you continuously adapt your approach until you can create the target image, Backseat Drawing and Reverse Charades allow you to perpetually reinterpret the word until your partner can guess what it is, even strategy games like Quarto, Abalone and Dragon Face provide instances where one strategy fails and a new one must be adopted. The important common thread amongst these products is that the creative areas of your brain are forced to activate and find a new path to reach an intended goal.
This stimulation of improvisational skills is vital to survival in the world and in the workplace. Often times a task is set before us at which we are unskilled or unfamiliar and we must use what knowledge we possess to find a suitable way to complete the task. Any time you are forced to find an alternate route when driving, you are exercising your improvisational skills. Whenever your first plan of attack in a game or a real life situation fails to produce the desired results, you are improvising and strengthening your creativity muscles.
Get your hands on some much needed improvisation practice and build yourself a weapon, play a game of Tangoes or engage in a strategy battle. Any way you like to stimulate your improvisation skills, you are building not only your creativity, but also your overall efficiency and confidence. When you can launch a new attack on an opponent, build a trebuchet or even just quickly find a more effective way to complete a task at work, you are utilizing that creative spark, so why not do it and yourself a favor and give it a little more exercise?