A serious game consists in the application of entertaining, enjoyable techniques to achieve a serious, professional purpose. Serious games can be very powerful to get over psychological resistances, either to learning or to engaging with specific people or groups.
During the past months we developed and tested our first serious game, the ‘Scenario Exploration System’ (SES), as an experimental instrument in order to better engage our stakeholders with the result of a foresight study. Together with experts from the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies, this board was designed, tested, and refined, in our EU Policy Innovation Lab.
What is the SES?
The SES is a role-playing game engaging 5 participants in exploration and creation of unique stories, by taking action into possible futures as a policy-maker, a business, or a civil society organisation – while the public voice observes and reacts according to its interests. The objective of the SES is to provide a platform that engages players in holistic thinking and acting using the future for strategic development, preparedness, etc.
The first version of SES uses content developed during the JRC foresight study ‘2035: Paths towards a Sustainable EU Economy’, which paints 4 future scenarios using societal values (from individualistic to collaborative) and the fiscal framework (from traditional to highly supportive of sustainability) as key drivers.
After having played the Sustainable Transitions edition of the game with about 100 players from various backgrounds, we have become comfortable with the multiple possibilities offered by the gaming platform. Interest is emerging from this first set of players and beyond in adapting this serious game to specific environments for stakeholder engagement, awareness-raising, communication and the testing of policies. Indeed the SES design is generic enough to be played on more specific topics or on other themes with simple modifications.
Food safety edition of the game
In response to a request from the European Commission Directorate General for Health and Food Safety, the EU Policy Lab used food-related scenarios from a JRC foresight study on food safety and nutrition “Tomorrow’s healthy society – Research priorities for foods and diets” to develop a Food Safety edition of the serious game. We used this new edition on September 24, 2015, to test how current EU food safety legislation could affect food-related innovation in the long-term. Participants in the serious game session came from industry, consumer organisations and policy-making circles.
The immediate feedback both from the players and from the users of the results of the gaming session, was very positive. Players felt that the game helped them to think in a holistic manner and through a future-oriented perspective. The stories that were developed during the game also had enough depth and realism to allow the policy-makers that observed the game to draw strategic conclusions about a future policy-course for food safety at EU level.
If you are interested in knowing more feel free to contact us.