I’m interested in facilitating a SAGE group. What do I need to know?

Below are all the resources needed to run a successful group, tested in battle with real people in multiple groups. Remember, you don’t have to be a great game developer to run a group; you simply provide accountability and allow space for people to interact with the information and each other with the occasional prompting to stay on topic.

What Does it Mean to Facilitate a SAGE Group? #

Facilitating a SAGE group is a very fulfilling experience, and is easier than you may think. As a SAGE group facilitator, it is not expected that you be the most experienced person in the group to facilitate; everyone will get encouragement, support, and accountability from each other and the curriculum will be the “sage” that the group members learn from. In most ways, you will be participating in the SAGE group experience just as much as the other members!

Instead, the primary responsibilities for a SAGE group facilitator are to:

  • Communicate the expectations that are common across all SAGE groups when the group first meets
  • Facilitate the meeting agenda (discussion questions will be provided to you)
  • Model meeting the expectations by having progress to share and having done the homework each meeting
  • Check in with your group between meetings and facilitate rescheduling meetings when needed
  • Nurture an environment where SAGE group members can connect and feel included

Regarding the last point, members who feel connected to and included in their SAGE group will be much more likely to keep attending and engage in the curriculum, in turn helping the group stay strong throughout the season. There are many ways you can nurture this: you can welcome your group members every meeting, encourage positive feedback on parts of their project that they share (constructive feedback should only be given if they explicitly ask for it), directly ask quieter members about their thoughts about a particular homework question, and be vulnerable in your prayer requests (e.g. everyone needs prayer for work; what else can you share about your prayer request that makes it personal?). SAGE group members will engage with each other as deeply as the facilitator is willing to.

Also, between meetings you can engage with your SAGE group over chat, such as on Facebook Messenger or Discord. If you use Facebook Messenger, we suggest you add all your members to a new “message” and then give the “message” a name so it is easy for your group to identify that group conversation amidst their other conversations on Messenger. If you use Discord, the SAGE group coordinator can work with you to create a channel on the “CGDC Coms” Discord server that will be visible only to your group members. You are also free to use other means of keeping in touch between meetings in whatever way works best for your group.

Forming a Group #

It is very important you limit the group size to around four to six members, including yourself. Groups with more than six in the past ended up being too many. With each additional person, it reduces the amount of talk time and interaction per person, which allows dominant people to dominate more and quieter people to hide more. The smaller the group the less swing in either direction. Also, it’s one more schedule to have to coordinate around, potentially with time zone implications.

To assist with this, the SAGE group coordinator will work with you to find group members that would be a good fit in terms of interests and schedules. Once the facilitators are known, the coordinator will email those interested in joining a SAGE group to let them know about the available groups and give options that match their desired curricula choices and their time zones. Once you start getting emails from potential group members, you can work with them to determine the best time for the group to start regularly meeting. If you have any questions or issues navigating through forming a group, please reach out to the SAGE group coordinator.

Membership Criteria #

The group is designed for a game developer, artist, musician, writer, etc. actively and regularly working on a game or game-related project they plan to release publicly.

That is the only criteria.

What is not important:

  • Where they are in the process (pre-production, production, ramping up to release); anyone at any time is welcome.
  • Previous experience is not necessary. The CGDC Bootcamp curriculum is designed with first timers in mind.

What about these kinds of people?

  • Someone who has worked on a game or game-related project but isn’t right now due to life situation (new baby, school, job).
    • Encourage them to focus on their life situation and tell them that there will be a group for them to join when they are ready.
  • Someone who is regularly working on a game as a pet project, portfolio piece, or tech demo. They aren’t really serious about releasing it for others to play
    • Save them and you time; they can join a group when they want to make a game for more than themselves. Most of the material won’t be valuable to them anyway.

It is very important to limit members only to those who meet these qualifications. Why? Think of the alternative:

A group has two members: Alice who is serious about making her game, she recently left her job to pursue game dev and is spending her life savings on graphics, voice actors, and meager living expenses. At some point her runway will run out and she will sick or swim. Then there is Bob, still in school, undeclared major. He really enjoys talking about game dev because he is going to make a game… one day. Bob has nothing on the line and isn’t going anywhere. But he sure likes hanging out and talking as if he does! Not only is unfair to diminish Alice’s time and interaction with the group to make space for Bob, but Bob’s contributions are downright wrong. He’s a travel agent to a land he’s never visited.

Facilitating Well #

It is important that homework is completed by members before meeting and that progress is at least attempted on each person’s game project between meetings. While this could seem draconian or people will complain, it maintains the integrity of the group. It sometimes happens that life gets in the way and causes someone to miss doing the homework or working on their project so grace is always great to show, but if you notice that a member is regularly skipping the homework or their project work it would be good to see if they are willing to ramp up again or if they need to take a break from the group to take care of other things in their life.

People do what is expected of them. For the value of those who are there to really learn, you must maintain high standards for everyone. Feedback from members of groups that fell apart point to a lack of discipline about homework as the key cause.

Have a “Time Cop” #

To be respectful of everyone’s time, it is important to stick to the agreed upon agenda and end time (agendas are provided for each lesson, adjust them as you see fit). This only happens if someone is assigned as time cop. Their job is to set a timer for each section of the agenda and warn when the time is running low. This helps keep things moving smoothly. One option is using Online Stopwatch, and even better if it can be displayed on screen during the meeting.

Frequency of Meetings #

SAGE groups can meet once a month or every other week. You can decide what frequency works best for your group and work with the SAGE group coordinator to adjust your curriculum as needed. If a member knows ahead of time that they will not be able to attend one of the meetings, it would be best to reschedule so that they can be a part of this SAGE group.

The SAGE Group Meeting #

If your group is meeting bi-weekly the SAGE group should meet for 1.5 hours, and if meeting monthly the meeting should be for 2 hours. The recommended agenda for each meeting is:

  • Praying for each other (15 minutes)
  • Sharing project progress (45 minutes for monthly, 30 minutes for bi-weekly)
  • Discussing the curriculum homework (60 minutes for monthly, 45 minutes for bi-weekly)

Depending on how many people you have in your group, you can divide the project progress available time by your group size to see how many minutes each person can have to discuss their work, and have your time cop keep track of each person’s time.

As for how to get your group together to meet, the preferred method is using a Discord text channel for communicating between meetings and a voice channel for meeting. Both can be provided by CGDC on our Discord server. Beyond being a place for the SAGE group to meet each time, the voice channel can be used by SAGE group members between meetings for getting together one-on-one as desired to discuss or collaborate on their projects.

Pray! #

One thing that costs little but pays out big is to pray for your group. Pray that God will awaken or strengthen a calling in each of them to become more than they began the year with.

Final Logistics #

We’d love to be able to keep up-to-date with how your group is going throughout the season. When you work with your SAGE group members to determine the meeting cadence, let the SAGE group coordinator know what was decided. Also, within a few days after each of your meetings, please check in by sending an email about who was able to attend, who was missing, and if someone new has joined your group.

Have Questions or Need Help? #

Feel free to reach out to the SAGE group coordinator for any reason. They are here to equip and support you as SAGE group facilitators, and can assist with questions, issues, and concerns regarding your SAGE group.

The current SAGE group coordinator is Matt Colón, and can be reached at matt@cgdc.org.

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