Gathering materials, cleverly distributing roles, working out schedules, coordinating small groups, solving conflicts and always staying on top of things – successfully facilitating simulation games requires some training. As an addition to our range of training courses, we now run … Continue
The terrorist threat, Brexit, closing of borders, the Euro crisis – most headlines about the EU have been rather disconcerting of late. The President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, is speaking of a „multilayered poly-crisis“. Many believe that fundamental change … Continue
Defining one’s own values. The interrelation between majority and minority in democracies. Hallmarks of populism and „alternative facts“. And, not least, effects and effectivity of seemingly simple solutions to complex political problems – the rise of right-wing populism across the … Continue
The last week in August saw our return to the simulation game universe, going straight into a full-blown event marathon, starting with 12 events in just five days, taking in Berlin, Hildburghausen, Shanghai, Rostock and Bremen. On the 30th of August, almost the entire planpolitik team was active, facilitating seven simulation games simultaneously: climate negotiations, EU lobbyism, terrorism, asylum policy and three events on populism. Our topics truly reflect the current social and political challenges. Over the coming weeks and months, climate as a topic will continue to keep us busy. In the run-up to the COP23 climate summit in Bonn – presided over by the Fiji Islands – we will facilitate numerous simulation games and workshops with groups of pupils, students and experts.
A federal chancellor with pink hair streaks, a 14-year-old in a tracksuit as minister for family affairs, and a state secretary who’s only lived in Germany for two years – this was what the Federal Cabinet looked like on German Unity Day in Mainz. Our simulation game had guests to the Federal Government tent assume the roles of ministers, state secretaries and even that of the chancellor. On the whole, eight cabinets met in the cabinet chamber. Each had to discuss two draft laws, it was either compulsory vegetable production for hobby gardeners and compulsory voting or the introduction of anonymous job applications and a tax on fast food.
Using these fictional examples, the participants experienced the importance of compromise and how difficult government work can be. They got a good look „behind the scenes“, especially when Christian Schmidt, the real German Minister for Agriculture, met his simulated counterpart and gave the participants some personal insights into government business. We have fond memories of the colourful mixture of participants as well as the fantastic atmosphere in which governing took place. Many had never taken part in a simulation game before, entering the challenge feeling a little apprehensive, only to emerge all the more happy and proud. So far, simulation games are rarely a part of mass events and fairs – the Mainz experience has shown just how many people are willing to take part. Here’s hoping the number will grow!
Up and down the country and all year long, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs’ „Partnerships for Democracy“ have facilitated democracy conferences. The way each conference is implemented varies from place to place, but the goal is always the same: raising awareness of the possibilities and challenges of a democratic society, pointing to municipal areas of activity and ways to participate.
In the middle of September, the city of Langen (Hesse) invited around 800 pupils to take part in its democracy conference. Following welcoming addresses and presentations from municipal leaders, participants proceeded to gather ideas on making public space more youth-friendly. There was also the „municipal puzzle“, a new planpolitik development allowing the youngsters to get to know the tasks a municipality tends to face and create their ideal municipality. Playfully, they learned that while there are areas in which a municipality must basically follow orders from the federal level, there are also many areas which the municipality and, indeed, its citizens can help shape. Assuming different roles, the youngsters discussed possible projects: should the municipality invest money in a new hospital, or will that not leave enough for a new football pitch? Is it worth raising taxes to pay for a new cinema? In the end, one thing is clear: if we want to take all different interests into account, we need to be able to compromise. But whether you’re a pensioner or a single mum, you can have your say and help shape the community.
Even the event’s title suggested that this would be no ordinary day: “Diverse Islam vs violent Salafism. Possibilities for prevention and intervention”. This series of information events, organised by the Regional Centre for Politicial Education in North Rhine-Westphalia (LpB NRW), has two main goals. On the one hand, it offers educators and teachers an overview of different currents of Islam, not least in order to underline the diversity of religion and thus counteract possible blanket negative attributions and stereotypes towards Muslims.
On the other hand, the event aims to shed light on the dangers of violent Salafism. In order to be able to counteract these extremist aspirations decisively, possible prevention and intervention strategies for dealing with young people at risk in schools and educational institutions are presented.
Our task during the first implementation was to moderate the lectures and subsequent discussions on these complex and highly topical questions. This proved very exciting and demanding, with plenty of new territory for us. In addition, a total of 11 expert inputs across a 10-hour program presented a certain methodological challenge. Still, we are very happy to be moderating the following three events on the same topic as well.
We are excited that the European Parliament’s Information Office has commissioned us to facilitate a total of eight one-day EU simulation games at schools in North Rhine-Westphalia, Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt in the coming months. While the two NRW dates are already booked, we are still looking for interested schools in Thuringia (1 event) and Saxony-Anhalt (2 events). The basic conditions are very simple: the offer is aimed at school classes from 10th grade onwards. You can choose from five different topics, and the event can take place anytime between now and February 2018.
Are you a school teacher with a desire to get your teeth into an EU simulation game? Get in touch with our colleague Annegret Schneider (a.schneider[at]planpolitik.de) for detailed information.
In early August, our very own Konstantin Kaiser flew to New York to collect the „Migration Design Award“, waiting for us at the annual Games 4 Change festival, the world’s largest conference on game based learning. Unsurprisingly, Konstantin was quite nervous and also felt very honoured to be able to present our work to some of the legends of the business.
Our award-winning game is an online simulation called „Next Stop:Weichenbach“, which we developed in cooperation with the Saxonian Centre for Political Education. The game centres around the integration of 500 refugees in the small fictional Saxonian town of Weichenbach. The mayor has to consider the interests of citizens groups as well as local and regional political party groups in order to reach agreement in town hall and among the local population. The jury was particularly impressed with the game’s realistic scenario and well-developed mechanisms, pointing out that the game allows participants to experience all-important empathy with all participating actors.
But politics was only one of many topics at the festival. „Health and Neurogaming“ was another interesting area, as were learning experiences with virtual reality. Konstantin had the opportunity to try out a lot of different game demos and realised how expansive and diverse the field of learning games has become. Interestingly, hardly anyone seems to be tackling games played by several players simultaneously. This came as a rather reassuring realisation for us. After all, personal interaction is what planpolitik specialises in, or rather our simulation game engine Senaryon!
It is the largest single commission in the history of planpolitik. Commissioned by the Bertelsmann Foundation’s European programme and the Heinz Nixdorf Foundation, we are developing a simulation game on the future of the EU. The contracts have been signed, the work has begun. The basic idea is the „Union lab“ (our working title) in which pupils re-found the EU. In a fictional past, a number of member states hold negotiations about possible steps towards integration. Will they agree on a single market? Should there be transfer payments between member states? And how are decisions going to be reached, by majority vote or unanimously?
What we take for granted today is up for discussion in the Union lab, leading to a discussion about future projections. In the game, the pupils have to act on a European and regional level simultaneously while constantly bearing in mind the interdependence of politics and economics. How high should taxes be in their country? What is tax revenue spent on? Social security or education? Infrastructure or security?
After every round, a complex calculation model (yet to be developed) gives the players feedback on the development of their country. What’s more, the decisions made on the European level directly affect the economic data and political options on the national level: Europe as a multilayered system. The official launch is scheduled for the autumn of 2018. By the way, does anybody know any business mathematicians? We have a few questions…
July saw us run one of the longest events in our company history. For seven days, we had the pleasure of working with 80 scholarship holders of the Joachim Herz Foundation’s pupils scholarship programme grips gewinnt. We all retreated to Louisenlund boarding school near the Danish border to devote ourselves to a topic that was new to us: networks. Four parallel workshops approached the topic from different angles, taking in economics, politics, society, art, IT and media.
Our workshop (politics and society) used a whole range of different methods, allowing the 20 core participants a closer look at how networks in politics and society work. Not only did we rise to new theoretical heights, but also trained all the do’s and don’ts of networking with a host of newly developed simulation games. As a result, grips gewinnt now has a network constitution and the scholarship holders run a self-administered „grips hilft“ network. Everyone had a good time and agreed that grips rocks!
In May, Champagne flowed in Friedelstraße as we received confirmation of funding for our project „#TEVIP – Translating European Values into Practice“. For the first time, we have the Lead for a strategic partnership. Since then, the 1st of September is marked red in our calendar as the start of the project.
Before we can begin working on content, many formal questions must be answered: what kind of partnership agreement is most appropriate? How does the Mobility Tool work? Who is paid how much money and when? We’re currently navigating through a maze of budget tables and project management tools, thinking about Milestones and Work Packages, considering whether to use Dropbox or Google for data exchange and gathering ideas for a logo and a website.
We are very excited to get moving on content-related work with our partners. We have scheduled the first workshop in Berlin for October. Hopefully, we’ll have resolved the majority of administrative issues until then. Many of you will probably know what we are currently going through… We’d be delighted if anybody would like to share their experiences and tips with us!
Last year, the Global Playgrounds project saw 24 young people from Germany and Turkey get together to develop simulation games for refugee work (we wrote about it here). The seminar took place in Brandenburg, this year’s edition was set to take place in Izmir, Turkey. Unfortunately, real-life politics has thrown a spanner in the works. Based on the German Foreign Office’s new assessment of current developments in Turkey, project partners Deutsch-Türkische Jugendbrücke and the German Foreign Office have decided to move the Seminar to Germany. We are very sad about the reasons behind this decision, but are working hard to make this great project happen anyway. We are delighted that the German-Turkish team of trainers remains intact and has shown great flexibility in ensuring the project takes place nonetheless. A big thank-you to Gülesin, Sener, Jan-Hinrich and Alex!
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