George W. Bush was still President of the United States, Jacques Chirac was President of France, only Germany was already governed by Angela Merkel. The IS was practically unknown, the conflict in Sri Lanka had not yet been resolved – and planpolitik consisted of two people… Back in January of 2007, we travelled to Paris to visit the American University (AUP) for the first time, bringing a simulation game on the Sri Lankan conflict.
The students and lecturers of the International and Comparative Politics faculty were sufficiently enthralled, and since then we have been back every year for a four-day module on „Conflict Management, Negotiation and Mediation“.
Thus, at the beginning of March, we celebrated our 10-year AUP anniversary. Every year, our trip to Paris marks a particular highlight in our calendar. On one hand, working with students from all over world is a lot of fun, on the other, Paris is different to Berlin: more colourful, busier, more beautiful and tastier. If it were up to us, we’d still be teaching that module at AUP in 2027, we only hope Merkel won’t still be chancellor.
A couple of weeks ago, we ran our newly created interactive workshop on (right wing) populism in its entirety for the first time. 26 highly motivated scholarship holders of the „grips gewinnt“ programme gathered for a weekend to address democratic values, interrelations of majority and minorities in democracies, hallmarks of populism and „alternative facts“ and, last not least, the effectivity of seemingly simple solutions for complex political problems. At the heart of the workshop is the simulation game „Who the people? – Populists in power“, demonstrating how democratic structures can be undermined rather quickly. The programme encouraged participants to engage in discussions, to ask questions and, occasionally, to listen up in surprise, motivating them to promote democratic values even more fiercely than before and to speak out when necessary!
Our range of simulation games is growing steadily – every year, we create around 15 new games. Owing to the „energy turnaround“, demand for events and games on energy policy has increased considerably over the past few years. For example, we have recently created tailor-made simulation games for Deutsche Gesellschaft e.V. and the EU project “ImTeam4EU” as well as running numerous events for the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and various German universities and academies.
In response to this growth in demand, we have introduced the Business and Energy department, looked after by our colleague Klaus Schneider. Klaus is your contact for „classics“ such as the stock exchange simulation or the game on state debt as well as for many relatively new games on topics such as grid expansion and renewable energies. He will gladly answer all of your questions!
The fictional Saxonian town of Weichenbach is allocated 500 asylum seekers. Where will their accommodation be? Who will carry the cost? Some citizens of Weichenbach see this as an opportunity for their town, others wonder whether their town is equipped to cope with such a challenge, and others categorically oppose taking in the refugees. Thus is the opening scenario of „Next Stop Weichenbach“, the simulation game that has just won the first prize in the Games 4 Change Migration Design Challenge in the U.S. The awards ceremony will take place in New York City at the beginning of August – we’re very much looking forward to it!
The game is based on our Senaryon platform and is being developed in partnership with the Saxonian Centre for Political Education (SlpB). Pupils play the game over a period of three weeks, partly while at school, partly from home. They assume roles of local councillors, citizens’ groups and members of the press. The game’s most important goal is to convey the interrelations and functionalities that define municipal politics and opinion-forming processes. The SlpB has brought to the project the basic idea as well as plenty of experience from the project „Commune in Dialogue“. Spanning several years, this project has involved 160 moderation sessions on the creation of refugee centres in Saxony, providing the basis for the creation of the game’s scenario and role profiles which we then fed into Senaryon. We have also added a whole range of technical functions. The game is currently in its test phase and will be available in schools across Saxony from May.
At last! – the planpolitik simulation game catalogue Planspielkatalog 2017 (English version coming soon) is here, providing an overview of our current range of games. With 80 different simulation games divided into seven different topical sub-categories, there should be something for everybody here. As you have become accustomed to with planpolitik, the simulation games are playable both in the classic seminar format or online and they can be adapted to almost every kind of target group. Of course they can also be augmented with interactive workshops, negotiation trainings, ideas workshops or conferences. Those who would like to develop their own simulation game have come to the right place, too: our training sessions will quickly enable participants to understand the components and tricks that make a great game. We like to pass on our knowledge and experience. After all, we have always been convinced that the range of simulation games on offer in political education can never be too big.