For the third time now, we have held simulation games as part of the Federal Government’s unification celebrations. After Mainz and Berlin, this year the state of Schleswig-Holstein hosted the festivities. In the Federal Government’s tent directly on the Kiel Fjord, a total of 600 people took on the roles of ministers, state secretaries and the Federal Chancellor in nine game rounds spread across two days. At our faithfully reproduced cabinet table, four different topics were negotiated, most of them in connection with the 70th anniversary of the Grundgesetz, Germany’s post-war constitution. As in previous years, the concept was a complete success: the rush on the tent was so great that several game rounds were overbooked, and we unfortunately had to turn people away.
This year saw the introduction of digital game elements that participants used on their own mobile phones. First, they got to test their knowledge of the German government’s work in an interactive quiz. Then they logged into our “top secret” internal ministry chat to communicate with their colleagues at the cabinet table during the negotiations. Finally, the participants digitally evaluated the simulation game. All this was done via our online simulation platform Senaryon, which is becoming more and more flexible. Running an event of this scale was an unusual experience for us, and we are happy and proud that it went so well – another big step towards what we call Simulation Game Plus – the ever-increasing integration of our analogue and digital offerings.
We hope that our cabinet table will be set up again next year, this time in beautiful Potsdam! And maybe the Minister for Family Affairs, Franziska Giffey, will drop by again – as she has done for the second time now – to see how the simulation game version of herself is faring in the negotiations.
“Young people do not have a voice!” – This is an accusation that Lower Saxony Ministry for Federal and European Affairs and Regional Development does not want to arise. As a think tank for young civil society in Lower Saxony, the “Zukunftslabor Europa” (Future Lab) regularly provides Minister Birgit Honé with opinions, ideas and expertise from the perspective of the younger generation.
In September we moderated the first workshop with more than 20 representatives of various youth associations and initiatives. Trade unions, the Muslim and Jewish communities, Pulse of Europe, SiMEP, JEF, Sozialverband Deutschland and Fridays for Future – they all exchanged ideas and concrete demands and discussed them with the Minister. The event was, of course, not just a basic hearing: the topics had been selected in advance via online voting and were then addressed in an interactive and extremely engaging workshop. We were delighted by the young people’s way of working, which was characterised by an interest in other positions and constructive approaches to change. By the way, the results have found their way directly into the state’s European policy and were promptly presented to the new EU Commission in Brussels. However, this event was only the beginning – the Future Lab will take place again at the beginning of 2020, with new topics to be discussed.
With newcomers Lukas Meya and Daniel Schneiß as our newest additions, the planpolitik team has now grown to 18 members. While Lukas has worked on numerous projects for us as a freelancer during the past few years, Daniel is a new face to the team. Fun fact – both simultaneously completed their Masters in Politics at the London School of Economics, but never once crossed paths there. After their return, they made up for it in the Reuterkiez area of Berlin where our office is located.
Lukas joined the online team at the beginning of September to develop concepts and marketing strategies for our blended and online offerings. Currently, the focus is on the digital media quiz for parents, which is to receive its premiere in Berlin at the end of November. In a playful way, parents will get a sense of how to assess and manage their children’s use of the media. Lukas has already proven to us on several occasions that his talents extend beyond civic education – note his illustrations for the “Unionslabor” and for the simulation game on the Hanseatic League, which have turned the materials from these projects into real eye-catchers.
Over the next few months we will discover what secret talents lie dormant in Daniel. After all, we already know that he loves to play the saxophone. He joined the “Democracy and Society” team as a student assistant at the beginning of October and is currently helping us update the populism workshop. In addition to content-related work, he will take over organisational and administrative tasks while preparing for his doctorate at Humboldt University in his other life. Lukas and Daniel – it’s great to have you with us!
When the Children and Youth Office of the City of Iserlohn sent confirmation that they wanted us to design an empowerment workshop, the great moment had arrived: over the past 14 years, planpolitik has collaborated with as many as 250 different clients – in the meantime, the number has grown by a few more. As the very first client, the Evangelische Akademie Loccum will always have a special place in the company’s history. Over the years, a wide network of partners has emerged, including foundations and NGOs as well as parliaments and political parties, small civil society initiatives as well as businesses. Our aim in all the events and projects we create for and with our partners is that they should help to better understand political processes and strengthen our democracy by bringing people of all ages into exchange about how we can tackle social challenges together.
We would like to express our sincere thanks to all the great people with whom we have had the opportunity to work with as planpolitik, for the trust they have placed in us and for their consistently challenging and inspiring assignments.
A beautiful olive grove between Ephesos and Izmir was the setting in which we said “Welcome to Global Playgrounds” at the beginning of October – unfortunately, for the last time. Initiated by German-Turkish Youth Bridge, the project brought together young professionals from Germany and Turkey in its fourth edition to discuss and test the use of games in the work with young refugees. What is so special about these games? They were all created in the course of the project with the aim to build bridges between young people who are unable to communicate purely linguistically. Sometimes it’s just about having fun, sometimes it’s about getting to know each other, sometimes it’s about taking your first steps in learning a new language. At the end of the six-day workshop, the participants had developed workshop concepts (including the games) for multipliers, which will be published in a handbook at the beginning of 2020 and can be used free of charge.
In addition to this, the exchange between the participants, all of them experts in refugee work, was of course at the heart of the six-day meeting. Deep into the night the participants sat together to learn more about the other country and the situation of refugees there, to think of possible future projects, to enjoy the magic of the olive groves and to hear a donkey call from time to time.
Our blended simulation games, i.e. the combination of online negotiations and a concluding event in real life, are now part of the regular curriculum at many universities, often as part of a master’s programme. We continue to develop and expand the Senaryon engine, which is used to run all our digital formats and therefore includes our online simulation games as well. During the last few weeks, students at the European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder) and at the Centre international de formation européenne (CIFE), Nice, have had the pleasure of getting to know a new feature: using the new task system, lecturers can give the students tailor-made assignments during the negotiations, e.g. to reflect on processes and contents of the simulation game or to carry out further research. Within a given time period, the participants complete the assignments and thus complete their coursework for that particular module. This makes reflection essays superfluous, as that part of the learning process is now integrated into the game.
The students’ enthusiasm for blended simulation games has been unabated for almost six years now. Already during the first online simulation we noticed that the students were full of energy and invested a much more than the required minimum of hours into the negotiation of a compromise. To our delight, the participants immersed themselves deeply in the topic and at the end of the game emerged with enormous expertise in the topic addressed in the game. In the coming weeks, our colleagues will see the level of expertise in the current negotiations at the final summits of the simulation games in Frankfurt (Oder) and Nice.
For some time now we have been wondering what it would be like to convey the content of a simulation game – i.e. scenario, role profiles and game rules – not by written text, but by video. Time and again, we meet people at events who, for various reasons, find having to read a text an obstacle when preparing for a simulation game.
At the end of last year, the Youth Migration Service at schools in the Berlin district of Reinickendorf asked us to develop a low-threshold modular workshop on the topic of “Justice and Participation” for young people – and finally there was a concrete reason to put our vision into practice. In close cooperation with filmmaker Björn Schürmann, we developed a concept, a screenplay and finally 11 short video sequences with scenarios and role profiles – brought to life on screen by two professional actors. When the videos were used for the first time, we saw that our idea was a success: the introduction to the simulation game “The usual suspects” (on the question of how a group of young people can solve a problem fairly and deal with racist prejudices) ran smoothly thanks to the preparatory videos that the participants watched on their smartphones. The lively discussion and creative search for solutions in the following simulation showed that the method is indeed suitable for every person – as long as the way into the game is paved and corresponds to the possibilities of the target group. The potential of the video format is far from exhausted and we look forward to saying “lights, camera, action” many more times in the future.
How do I get involved in politics and society? What is a political campaign and how do I start my own movement? At the end of July, we discussed these and many other exciting questions with 16 highly motivated students at the summer academy of the “Grips gewinnt” scholarship programme of the Joachim Herz Foundation. For the third time now, planpolitik took part in a Grips Summer Academy – this time with a campaign training revolving around this year’s topic “Energy in Politics and Society”.
Under the banner #nutzdeineenergie (#useyourenergy), four creative political campaigns on topics that are close to the students’ hearts were developed in our policy workshop over six days: LGBTIQ rights, equal rights on the labour market, sustainable consumption and a ban on arms exports.
The campaign teams used flyers, posters, surveys and interviews to draw attention to the topics and created awareness via an Instagram account. As part of our campaign training, they were introduced to Design Thinking as a method for finding creative ideas, helping them define goals and target groups for their campaign and develop a social media strategy. At the end of the summer academy, moderation training also focused on the question of how decisions within the campaign team can be made with as much participation as possible. We witnessed a lot of energy being channeled – and we are already looking forward to the next summer with the “Grips kids”!
Sea rescue on the Mediterranean, sexual harassment at the workplace, right-wing extremist ideas in volunteer work and corporate responsibility in the textile industry – the topics of the simulation games that we held over three days at the end of June at Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag in Dortmund were more “now” than ever. All simulation games were developed for the human rights initiative #freiundgleich (#freeandequal) of the Protestant Church. They allow the participants to take different perspectives on the same core question: to what extent is Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – “All human beings are free and born equal in dignity and rights” – actually the basis of all interaction in our world?
For our team, Kirchentag assignments are always special. The scale of the event alone is unique – the lively, bustling venues, the number of participants, their age range and willingness to enter lively discussions, the peaceful, concentrated and soulful atmosphere. Not least thanks to the support of the venue management (aka a bunch of extremely resourceful scouts), the three days whizzed by without any problems. Thus we were able to get a total of almost 800 people into what were often unfamiliar roles and subsequently into the discussion of the questions raised. The fact that human rights are currently not always in good shape was the basic tenor of many discussions. But the motivation and concrete ideas of the participants also showed that even today countless people are working to change social and political grievances for the better. Always with the aim that at some point all people will be able to live #freeandequal.
We proudly present: The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – short: SDGs – as a game set! More than a year ago, the German agency Engagement Global commissioned us to develop a board game on the global sustainability goals. It was not the easiest task to convey the complexity of the 17 SDGs with their 169 subgoals at a playfully interactive level. After countless tests in our office and with the actual target group – Bundeswehr officers – the result is now available: our board game “Together for the Future”.
In the game, 4-5 players become heads of state, trying on the one hand to do as much as possible for the development of their own countries, but on the other hand having to work together as a community so that all countries meet the set development goals – otherwise everyone loses in the end.
Following more than ten runs of the beta version as well as one of the final version at Engagement Global Leipzig we had wholly positive feedback. For us, one of the highest forms of praise is the frequently asked question: Where can I buy the game? However, for now, the game will not be available on the market. The 200 game sets that we produced will go to the various branches of Engagement Global and its headquarter in Bonn. They will initially be used for work with the Bundeswehr. However, the target group is easily expandable. In principle, the game is aimed at all those who are not yet experts in international development cooperation but would like to become more familiar with the SDGs and understand the pitfalls of their implementation.