2023 is here! To kick it off, we give you some of the things we’re most looking forward to this year – from new event ideas to our own new year party as a company.
Welcome to 2023! Doesn’t it feel nice to enter a new year, all nice and fresh? I always enjoy this time of year (the one right after the new year begins, in early January). There’s a singular calm to it, coming just after the hecticness of the holiday/end-of-year season, like the calm after a storm. It’s a space to breathe and contemplate, to create and dream, before the new year settles into itself and we all go on with life as usual in 2023.
At Invite Japan we’re also in a hoping and dreaming mood. We just came off a year that really picked up steam for us, after a long period of pandemic-influenced blues. So we’re looking to continue that momentum, while setting ourselves up to continue to grow and adapt to new circumstances and needs.
So here is a list of what we’re thinking about, talking about, and excited about for 2023…
Things we’re looking forward to in 2023
1. More School Tantei (plus new programs for students)
2022 saw more schools looking for new school trip ideas coming to us and participating in our School Tantei program. This is a program designed specifically for schools, which combines our popular outdoor scavenger hunt games with an educational SDG theme and related workshop.
School Tantei is therefore a great program for students with lots of benefits. It allows classes and groups of students to explore new areas, get to know each other better, practice working together, mentally challenge themselves, learn more about SDGs and social responsibility, and even practice some English.
In 2023 we’re looking to expand the program and get more schools involved. Already we have more requests this year for School Tantei. We’re even upgrading our Asakusa scavenger hunt more in order to accommodate larger groups (School Tantei usually has around 250~300 participants at once).
Beyond just School Tantei, we’re also looking to develop other programs for students and schools. We are adapting our puzzle internship program to make it into a workshop geared towards students and teaching them how to create puzzles and think outside the box.
Dragon Dash (which we talk about more below), is also a new program that we’re currently working on for a school, and which we hope we will be able to offer on a larger scale, with both a student and company version, eventually
2. Dragon Dash
Dragon Dash is our exciting new program that is currently in development. Mixing puzzles and physical challenges in a round-robin style environment, it’s sure to be a fine addition to our team building program line-up in 2023.
While we are developing the program for a school, Dragon Dash will also be able to accommodate corporate groups as well. Much like many of our other events, different versions with slight modifications will be made available so that any type of group can enjoy and have fun playing it.
With Dragon Dash, our hope is to make a more active-style puzzle game that is also transportable. This will be especially beneficial for groups that want something active, but are not located near one of our HSJ game sites (currently Asakusa, Yokohama and Nihonbashi).
This project is also getting the Invite Japan team’s creative juices flowing again, and making us think about more new ideas that we can use to expand our program line-up this year, and in the future.
3. All-staff meeting (and getting to meet in-person altogether)
If you’ll allow us to get personal for just a moment, one thing we at Invite Japan are really excited for in 2023 is an all-staff meeting in January, which is the first time we will all meet in-person – ever.
That may shock many of you, but the reason is that since the beginning of Covid, we’ve added a few new members to our team. One of them is Jet, our stack developer who lives in the Philippines, and who hasn’t been able to make it over to Japan yet due to covid restrictions.
So we’re very excited to meet him (face-to-face instead of over a screen), finally. And of course, even those of us who live in Japan haven’t met up as a whole group very often since we switched to remote work. As a result, it will be a fun time seeing each other, discussing important topics as a team, brainstorming, as well as a little partying to celebrate the new year.
4. More (and bigger) in-person events
Speaking of meeting in-person, with a post-Covid world coming more and more into view, we expect a lot more teams will be wanting face-face events. We’ve already seen more domestic companies and teams in Japan requesting in-person events and activities, but there many global teams haven’t had a chance to meet in-person, either.
So we’re looking forward to many more in-person events in 2023. We’ve written before about how, as much as we enjoy online activities, there’s something about in-person events that makes them special. Something about the physical energy in the room, and getting to see the smiles and looks of joy on players’ faces.
We’re also looking forward to bigger events as well. Last year challenged us to make more of our games playable for really large groups. We did a Suitcase Mystery event for 300 people, our scavenger hunt games were upgraded so that they could accommodate 300 plus, and even our online games can now be played by huge groups at one time.
300 people is already quite a lot, but is it the limit? Who knows, maybe we’ll find out soon enough. Hopefully, 2023 will allow us to continue building and expanding our games even more.
5. More travel events and events in new places
As many of you know, last year in September our team pulled off a large Suitcase Mystery event in Okinawa. It was a big challenge, but we made it through, and we’re now looking for more opportunities to expand our business beyond the Tokyo area.
In 2023, we hope to get the chance to travel to more distant places like Okinawa and spread our team building joy. Looking beyond 2023, we also want to be in a good position to hopefully put on events outside of Japan even, in other countries around the world.
Of course, there is also more to do here as well. Tokyo, and Japan in general, is rich in cultural sites and fascinating areas to explore. So we also want to expand our outdoor scavenger hunt offerings, both for corporate clients (HSJ) and consumers (Nazotabi). There’s still a lot of areas of Tokyo that we can turn into fun game areas, as well as cities around Japan (like Osaka and Kyoto).
6. Secret Agent: The First Mission upgrade
Secret Agent: The First Mission is an online team building game that we released a while ago (all the way back in 2021). It was a great game that combined a thrilling storyline about an art heist, new and improved graphics and gameplay, and more collaborative puzzles.
However, since its release we’ve learned a ton about how to make great online team building games. This was mostly due to our work on Okinawa Adventure, our newest online game. With the help of our stack developer, Jet, who joined us late in 2021, plus our desire to move away from relying on third-party whiteboard apps as part of our puzzle games, we managed to create something really fantastic and original, that players naturally have fun with and can use to learn how to collaborate more.
So now we’re going back (not always a bad thing – sometimes you need to go back to move forward) to the Secret Agent to upgrade it. We want to make it meet the higher standards that we have now, and fix many of the issues that we were able to solve while working on Okinawa Adventure. When we re-release it, hopefully in 2023, we will have an even stronger lineup of online games that we can offer our clients.
7. Hybrid becoming more settled
Of course, one of the main reasons that we are still thinking about online games is that hybrid and remote work don’t seem to be going anywhere. While more and more people are indeed going back to the office, many companies have reached a sort of equilibrium state when it comes to hybrid working styles – one that isn’t fully remote or fully in-person. Thus, we’re definitely seeing hybrid work becoming more normalized.
As this normalization continues into 2023, we hope it becomes a bit more settled as well. A lot of the habits and culture surrounding hybrid work that we associate with it, such as the loneliness, lack of adequate communication and resources, and insufficient trust between team members (especially between management and employees), were mostly likely the result of having to rapidly switch over in the wake of the early Covid precautions.
Companies and teams often didn’t have the time or space to really think about how to properly implement hybrid work. And certainly no one could foresee what the effects would be of having so many workers suddenly shifting their schedules and work lives so dramatically.
Now we have a bit more leeway, time and data from the past few years to think through these new work styles. Teams can look at what worked and what didn’t, and develop new structures and tools to make hybrid work more effectively.
Everyone will most likely benefit from this, as hybrid continues on its path towards being interwoven into modern work life. And we are excited to continue talking and thinking about hybrid work in our blog posts and workshops, as we develop new ideas and programs that will help make hybrid teams more cohesive
Conclusion: Another year of blog posts
One final thing we’re excited for in 2023 is continuing our blog posts. These posts help us think through ideas that are spreading around the world of team building and team organization, and allow us to communicate our own philosophy about teams, trust, communication, puzzles, and more.
This year is sure to be another fascinating one, with more ideas and themes. As we’ve explained above, we’ve also got some new exciting programs and activities in the works. So please join us as we head into another year filled with joy, laughter, fun and team building galore!