Dissemination of the migration version of the Scenario Exploration System (SES) serious game is gaining pace. This summer, the EU Policy Lab was invited to facilitate game sessions and train “scenario exploration masters” at two bigger events. Altogether, over 100 participants experienced the game.
In August, we took part in the 6th EMN Educational Seminar on Migration: Causes and Consequences of Forced Migration (22 – 24 August 2018) organised by the UN Migration Agency, International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Slovakia that coordinates the Slovak European Migration Network (EMN) contact point funded by the European Union. Over 70 participants mostly from Slovakia but also from Austria, Croatia, Czechia, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and the USA explored the JRC migration scenarios and discussed future strategies for satisfying labour market needs in Slovakia through international migration. This was a timely topic since Slovakia is currently experiencing a shortage of labour force in certain sectors, for example the automotive industry. Most of the seminar participants were civil servants working in the field of migration but they also included representatives of NGOs and academic researchers. During the 3-hour gaming session, they took up roles of EU and Slovak policymakers, employers, civil society organisations and the general public. The SES helped them to discuss in a structured way how various policies and initiatives could play out in two contrasting future scenarios and explore the potential of cooperation among key stakeholders.
In their feedback, some of the participants commented on the complexity of the game and its rules that required them to take many factors into account at once. In that sense, the word “game” can be misleading as this is a fairly demanding intellectual exercise. But their feedback indicated that the majority considered it well worth the effort:
“Thanks to this game I could consider the topic from different perspectives, not only in a one-sided way. It is interactive and interesting and gives space to participants’ own ideas. The more challenging scenario was tough but that made looking for solutions even more interesting.”
“It was a very realistic role-play, reflecting real-life migration policy issues and possible future scenarios.”
Thanks to the efforts of IOM Slovakia, the migration version of the SES is now available in the Slovak language. We also trained ten IOM colleagues to become SES “scenario exploration masters”. This enabled them to use the SES in their future events.
In September, we had another opportunity to present the game in a form of a 90 minute master class at the Evidence and Policy Summer School: Science, Policy and Demography (5 – 7 September). The topic of this year’s event was the role of population and migration for sustainable development in the European neighbourhood. The Summer School was co-organised by the JRC and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), in collaboration with the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA) and the Global Young Academy (GYA). Its objective was to help researchers have more impact and policymakers to use evidence for policy solutions.
This time, we only had an hour and a half to play. Therefore, we studied the profiles of participants, carefully selected framework topics and predefined the roles they could take up as much as possible. This way, we managed to provide both general introduction to foresight and explore one scenario in full. We gave the participants a choice of two topics relevant for those coming from the EU as well as the European neighbourhood countries:
- Satisfying labour market needs in the EU through international migration and in partnership with European neighbourhood countries
- Fostering diaspora engagement in Europe and the European neighbourhood
Over the two intense days, 35 participants played the game. Their feedback indicates that beyond appreciating it as an interesting and interactive experience, the SES broadened their perspective with regard to understanding the challenges of migration policy-making in the context of uncertainty:
“The game allows you to think how to reach your goal while taking in consideration long-term challenges, changes in context and other players’ moves. I found it difficult to make sure I was considering all factors in my decisions.”
“The outcome of the game was very realistic and one understands how hard it is to put oneself in someone else’s shoes and pursue the initial goals and visions.”
The migration version of the SES is one of the tools in the soon to be published Migration Toolkit that presents participatory methods to stimulate future-oriented discussions about migration with diverse groups of stakeholders.
If you are interested in more information about the SES and/or the Migration Toolkit, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.