Gaming


Online Foresight Guide

Gaming deals with human issues, making it a good way to help people understand the planning process and other people's viewpoints. They are particularly useful at an early stage of any community planning activity or to prepare people for a specific future challenge.

Overall description

In this approach games are devised to mirror real life planning scenarios or to teach specific skills. They deal with human issues and are mostly played in groups, usually helped by a facilitator or someone who has played them before. Many games involve role play, in which people act as if they were someone else. Games are a good way to help people understand the planning process and other people's viewpoints. They are also an enjoyable way to get people working together, making them particularly useful at an early stage of any community planning activity or as a way of preparing people for a specific future challenge.

When is this method appropriate?

In Foresight, games are mainly designed to aid decisions, planning, and policy implementation, by getting a clearer idea of possible reactions of other people involved. When the consequences of a decision or trend are unclear, or people lack a clear understanding of the issue, games can be a useful and enjoyable method. Gaming can be:

Who is this approach appropriate for?

The main benefits of games are the game participants who gain more insight, particularly into the way others think, and decision-makers, who gain insight into how people might react on particular decisions.

Who is typically involved?

The people who are involved are decision-makers who can help set up the game and possibly participate. Game participants can either be stakeholders, team members representing the stakeholders, or actors. Students are often involved as game participants.

Approach (Step-by-step-guide)

The following scheme represents the typical phases in a game exercise:

Resources

Depending on the availability of a game setup, number and type of participants, number of sessions and used equipment projects might endure 1 to 6 months; acquire labour force for and skills such as game set up, game facilitation, participants and analysis. Foresight exercises might range in cost from 25,000 to 150,000 euros.

Outputs

There is usually no specific output other than increased awareness but they may produce preliminary design proposals or an agenda for any future initiatives needed.

Pros and cons

The common advantage of gaming is the practical insight into social structures and impacts on human behaviour, like actions, reactions, goals and considerations of stakeholders. Potential limitations lie in the imagination needed for specific roles, if game participants are not the real stakeholders, or strategic game behaviour and advance knowledge by stakeholders when they participate. Gaming implicitly assumes room for play for all stakeholders.

Variations

The setup of gaming can differ on main focus, whether interaction (roles of players, e.g.) or transaction (rules of the game, e.g. chess), while games can be organised differently on the availability and trustworthiness of information amongst the different stakeholders.

Complementary methods

Other methods that can be used to complement gaming include modelling, which can help set up the game, and simulation or trend extrapolation, which can give a structural insight into how the future evolves.

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