Sunday, February 3, 2013

Board Game Hacking Session 1 Feb 2013

The idea to develop a game for sustainability or "thrivability" came last year after seeing two friends and fellow hubbers present cool symbol based frameworks for systems thinking. In September, Tim Winton ran a workshop of his Pattern Dynamics framework, and later in the year Andrew Suttar showed the "the nine archetypal ecologies" at Melbourne's CPX Meetup. Both are elegant ways of presenting complex things in a simple way. A call for interest to develop a game around symbols, sustainability and systems thinking was put out on Yammer last year.

The board game hacking session was promoted to the Hub Melbourne community on Yammer, on Twitter and with a poster in the kitchen a few weeks before the event. A couple of encouraging tweets and yammer posts were taken on board.

The session started with a check-in among participants where we talked about existing games we play, that have inspired us, why they were fun, not fun, and some key words emerged...

"If it ain't fun it ain't a game" was one of the key learnings from the game we developed last year (aim: creating winning pitches to solve problems in co-working spaces). And we agreed that most games and gamification initiatives around sustainability are pretty boring. Badges and leaderboards for those who can recycle most, or save most water aren't that exciting.

Other topics during this brainstorming session were the strategy game Blokus, biomimicry, re- cycle/use/create and interconnected systems in games like Jenga.

We later moved into the Hub kitchen where we put out some books, board games, pens, papers and other arts and crafts stuff. Realizing that a logical approach to a sustainability game would take forever, we instead went for an intuitive approach and grabbed random things from the table and went into another room.

At this point - about an hour into the session, we were sort of stuck and didn't really know where to take the idea generation process. On the table there were quite a few animals (plastic dolphins, cards with fish, cats etc), and this triggered an idea to hack Monopoly and turn it into a biodiversity game. But instead of collecting money and property, as in Monopoly, we would collect animals. 

We devised a scale of animals from low (pests) to high (extinct) and played with what the cards, dices, and board would represent.100s of games use the game mechanics of Monopoly. but with amendments to board layout, cards etc.

An hour later (and with a couple of other hubbers joining the session) another game idea emerged on the whiteboard. This game, using the mechanics of the game Careers, would look at different biosystems or geographic regions across the planet. Four different factors (population, global warming, biodiversity and sea level) would go up and down depending on the the players' luck and strategic skill.

One of the questions we left with on Friday night is whether Parker Brothers would send their lawyers if we continue on this pathway...

To be continued.

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