In early August, our very own Konstantin Kaiser flew to New York to collect the „Migration Design Award“, waiting for us at the annual Games 4 Change festival, the world’s largest conference on game based learning. Unsurprisingly, Konstantin was quite nervous and also felt very honoured to be able to present our work to some of the legends of the business.
Our award-winning game is an online simulation called „Next Stop:Weichenbach“, which we developed in cooperation with the Saxonian Centre for Political Education. The game centres around the integration of 500 refugees in the small fictional Saxonian town of Weichenbach. The mayor has to consider the interests of citizens groups as well as local and regional political party groups in order to reach agreement in town hall and among the local population. The jury was particularly impressed with the game’s realistic scenario and well-developed mechanisms, pointing out that the game allows participants to experience all-important empathy with all participating actors.
But politics was only one of many topics at the festival. „Health and Neurogaming“ was another interesting area, as were learning experiences with virtual reality. Konstantin had the opportunity to try out a lot of different game demos and realised how expansive and diverse the field of learning games has become. Interestingly, hardly anyone seems to be tackling games played by several players simultaneously. This came as a rather reassuring realisation for us. After all, personal interaction is what planpolitik specialises in, or rather our simulation game engine Senaryon!
It is the largest single commission in the history of planpolitik. Commissioned by the Bertelsmann Foundation’s European programme and the Heinz Nixdorf Foundation, we are developing a simulation game on the future of the EU. The contracts have been signed, the work has begun. The basic idea is the „Union lab“ (our working title) in which pupils re-found the EU. In a fictional past, a number of member states hold negotiations about possible steps towards integration. Will they agree on a single market? Should there be transfer payments between member states? And how are decisions going to be reached, by majority vote or unanimously?
What we take for granted today is up for discussion in the Union lab, leading to a discussion about future projections. In the game, the pupils have to act on a European and regional level simultaneously while constantly bearing in mind the interdependence of politics and economics. How high should taxes be in their country? What is tax revenue spent on? Social security or education? Infrastructure or security?
After every round, a complex calculation model (yet to be developed) gives the players feedback on the development of their country. What’s more, the decisions made on the European level directly affect the economic data and political options on the national level: Europe as a multilayered system. The official launch is scheduled for the autumn of 2018. By the way, does anybody know any business mathematicians? We have a few questions…
July saw us run one of the longest events in our company history. For seven days, we had the pleasure of working with 80 scholarship holders of the Joachim Herz Foundation’s pupils scholarship programme grips gewinnt. We all retreated to Louisenlund boarding school near the Danish border to devote ourselves to a topic that was new to us: networks. Four parallel workshops approached the topic from different angles, taking in economics, politics, society, art, IT and media.
Our workshop (politics and society) used a whole range of different methods, allowing the 20 core participants a closer look at how networks in politics and society work. Not only did we rise to new theoretical heights, but also trained all the do’s and don’ts of networking with a host of newly developed simulation games. As a result, grips gewinnt now has a network constitution and the scholarship holders run a self-administered „grips hilft“ network. Everyone had a good time and agreed that grips rocks!
In May, Champagne flowed in Friedelstraße as we received confirmation of funding for our project „#TEVIP – Translating European Values into Practice“. For the first time, we have the Lead for a strategic partnership. Since then, the 1st of September is marked red in our calendar as the start of the project.
Before we can begin working on content, many formal questions must be answered: what kind of partnership agreement is most appropriate? How does the Mobility Tool work? Who is paid how much money and when? We’re currently navigating through a maze of budget tables and project management tools, thinking about Milestones and Work Packages, considering whether to use Dropbox or Google for data exchange and gathering ideas for a logo and a website.
We are very excited to get moving on content-related work with our partners. We have scheduled the first workshop in Berlin for October. Hopefully, we’ll have resolved the majority of administrative issues until then. Many of you will probably know what we are currently going through… We’d be delighted if anybody would like to share their experiences and tips with us!
Last year, the Global Playgrounds project saw 24 young people from Germany and Turkey get together to develop simulation games for refugee work (we wrote about it here). The seminar took place in Brandenburg, this year’s edition was set to take place in Izmir, Turkey. Unfortunately, real-life politics has thrown a spanner in the works. Based on the German Foreign Office’s new assessment of current developments in Turkey, project partners Deutsch-Türkische Jugendbrücke and the German Foreign Office have decided to move the Seminar to Germany. We are very sad about the reasons behind this decision, but are working hard to make this great project happen anyway. We are delighted that the German-Turkish team of trainers remains intact and has shown great flexibility in ensuring the project takes place nonetheless. A big thank-you to Gülesin, Sener, Jan-Hinrich and Alex!
The most recent addition to our ever longer list of simulation games is a game about wolves, written for the Schaalsee-Elbe biosphere reservoir. As the title suggests, the game deals with the return of wolves into their original breeding grounds, in this case in the Western part of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Since the beginning of the millennium, wolves are once again living in Germany. Having initially been spotted in military training grounds in the Lausitz area, they are now to be found in all East German federal states (except Berlin) plus in Lower Saxony, breeding diligently.
Wherever wolves appear, local populations are in upheaval. While some celebrate wolves as an example for intact nature and successful nature conservation, others see a threat to their herds, to forest deer or even to humans. How wolves are to be dealt with in the future is a political matter. Perfect simulation game material! The biosphere reservoir staff is going to facilitate the game during the second half of the year under guidance from us. The target group are pupils age 13 or older.