Experimental learning with measures and properties
Our journey at planpolitik is all about taking simulation games to the next level. Traditionally, one of the methods we used to achieve this was by adding layers of intricacy to paper-based simulation games using dynamic elements backed by spreadsheets. As we incorporated these games into Senaryon (our digital simulation game platform), we created the measures, properties, and unlockable systems. These systems work in unison, enabling a wide range of sophisticated in-game behavior, thereby boosting the educational potential and adaptability of Senaryon. This post will introduce how we are using these systems and their didactic benefits.
In our more advanced Senaryon-based simulation games, the participants immerse themselves in negotiations revolving around the implementation of measures. Typically, in a classical simulation game for civic education, the outcome of negotiations is textual, e.g., a resolution or declaration, or just a decision. However, in measures-based games, the outcome is more tangible as the actions of the participants manifest in changes in maps, charts, and in-game events related to the scenario. This interactivity allows participants to practice cause-and-effect learning, systems thinking, data interpretation, and data analysis.
Crucially, it achieves this without them having to learn and memorize the intricacies of such complex systems in advance. Instead, it deepens their immersion in the scenario and allows for a mode of engaging with complex systems in an experimental way. In other words, participants get a “feeling” for how the properties of a system are interconnected based on the outcomes of their actions, rather than gaining this knowledge through more abstract, theoretical study.
In some instances, the systems are employed before the simulation game even starts. In our popular “Unionslabor” game, the properties are tied to an introductory quiz which determines the participant’s goals for the game, based on their answers to the quiz questions. This works effectively like a “personality test” which assigns a participant one out of seven personality types. Those are then used to allow users to “level up” during the game by unlocking achievements. The systems also allow us to make the scenarios more immersive. For instance, in our “Changing Climate” games, the system triggers press releases for different combinations of roles based on the state of the game.
Another immersive and informative feature present in several games is a map which changes in accordance with the participants' actions. For example, the map in “Conflict in the Gagonian Sea” will update island occupancy, and military and coastguard ship positions, while the map in “Climate Neutral City” will display alterations in urban infrastructure influenced by CO2 reduction initiatives like introducing new public transportation routes or creating green streets.
All these systems can also be combined. The below illustration shows how the enactment of two different measures can trigger changes that cascade through the properties system, and ultimately result in several visible effects.
The strength of the measures, properties, and unlockables systems lies in their versatility—they can serve as minor enhancements in a traditional simulation game or form the backbone of a game's mechanics. We believe we've only just begun to explore their full potential and eagerly anticipate future projects that will push these systems to their limits. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, we encourage you to reach out to us!
We utilise Adobe Fonts which requires sending your IP address to a US-based server. Select "Decline" if you want to use a locally hosted typeface instead. For more detailed information, please visit our