Playing games in the sky

Plans for a Skyhouses - very tall residential buildings in London - have produced discussion on the part that electronic communication can play in building social connections, and how we might explore that through games. More here on Kevin Harris' Neighbourhoods blog, and on my Designing for Civil Society blog.

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Sustainability game for online centres

Jane Berry and the team at DirectSupport have developed a sustainability game, based on others we have done, that helps online centres plan their future now that funding from the New Opportunities Fund is coming to an end.
We recently played one version with about 100 people from libraries, colleges and community projects at an event near Bolton organised by Learndirect.
Participants first audited their own experience in different field likes e-learning, e-government and social enterprise support. They then worked in groups to pool that knowledge and use cards with sets of development ideas to develop project plans. The pair on the left are presenting their group's ideas for a 'desktop pub' that would engage people in using digital cameras and other equipment to develop online history and stories about their part of Liverpool.
You can download the materials that we used here. There are Jane Berry's opening presention, facilitator's notes, templates and the four card sets explained in the notes. You'll need the free Acrobat reader for the pdfs.
Presentation - pdf
Facilitation notes - Word
Personal audit template - Word
Group audit template - Word
Project planning template - Word
Download blue cards - pdf
Download yellow cards -pdf
Download red cards - pdf
Download green cards - pdf
Other related DirectSupport materials for mentors and centres available here

Posted by davidwilcox in Business planning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Q and A about The Regeneration Game

We have developed a set of questions and answers about The Regeneration Game, and would welcome more of your questions and comments. Read on below, or download Q and A here. More here about the launch of the game. Please add comments and questions on The Regeneration Game by clicking 'Comments' under this item.
You can now buy the game online from NIACE.

Questions and Answers about The Regeneration GameDavid Wilcox and Drew Mackie

The game – and why it might be useful for you
Just what is The Regeneration Game?
It is a card-based game to help groups discuss how to improve neighbourhoods, and then develop action plans.

How can the Regeneration Game be used?
It can be played ‘for real’ in local communities, or in training sessions to help people understand the challenges of neighbourhood renewal.

Who might use the game?
Anyone who is trying to get different interests involved in planning neighbourhood regeneration – adult and community learning practitioners, development workers, activists, residents, trainers. In addition, anyone training people in community engagement techniques and processes.

What’s in the box?
The main components are packs of 52 cards with project ideas, action planning sheets, instructions on how to play, and information about where to get funding for projects.

How many people play?
The game is best played by a group of about eight people. Each game box has materials for up to four groups to play at the same time.

How long does a game take?
A game session depends on the complexity of the situation, and the length of discussion generated – but it is best to allow at least two hours for play and discussion.

What is involved in the game?
Groups identify problems they want to address in their neighbourhood, choose project ideas from cards and add their own. They then develop an action plan, and look at the skills, funding, and partnerships that might be needed to make things happen.

Where can I get the game?
You can buy the game online from NIACE.

Why use games?
Games can produce rich discussion and consensus in a short time; they create a level playing field for professionals and residents; they help people get to know each other. They are also more fun than most other meetings.
Download article on Why games?

What special about this game?
It combines a number of well-tried techniques to promote group discussion; it is designed for use in a wider process of community engagement; it offers high quality materials that can be used in community and training sessions.

Is the game only for use with community groups?
No – because effective regeneration depends on a wide range of interests developing a shared commitment to change. The game is designed for use within regeneration agencies and partnerships too. By playing the game different interests can develop a shared vision.

How was the game developed?
The design of the game is based on workshops run by Drew Mackie and David Wilcox over the past ten years. You can find similar – but less polished! – games on their web site . This version, and supporting materials, was developed with Jane Thompson and Cheryl Turner of NIACE, and their design team.
Playing the game
Does a game session require skilled facilitation?
No – there are full instructions on how to plan and run a session. Because the cards are pre-prepared groups have plenty to talk about from the start.

Do the pre-prepared cards lead to standard solutions?
There are blank cards for new ideas, and participants are encouraged to amend cards using Post-it notes. If you like the game, but want to start with a different set of ideas, you can make up your own cards.

What sort of venue is best for the game?
Somewhere that people can work in groups of about eight people in the same room. You will need flip chart paper – and easels if possible. You can sit people around tables – but the best sessions are often when people just spread the cards on the floor.

What other props are needed?
As well as flip chart paper you will need Blu-tak or similar to stick cards on the paper, pens, and Post-its or other sticky notes for adding ideas.

Can the materials in the box be re-used?
The cards can be re-used, and there is a template for copying new planning sheets when you need them.

What makes for a good session?
We offer advice in the instructions. Generally, make sure people know the purpose of the session, make it an enjoyable and creative experience, and be clear about what happens next – if the game is part of a development process.
The game as part of a process
Is there a danger the game will be used as a ‘quick fix’ for community participation?
There’s always a danger that workshop tools are seen as ‘the’ answer, when real participation takes time. David Wilcox has written The Guide to Effective Participation, available as a free download from, which deals with these issues. We think there’s less danger in using The Regeneration Game because it is unpretentious and encourages wide-ranging discussion and questions.

How might the game be used as part of a longer process?
We give some suggestions in the game instructions. You might use the game as an awareness-raiser early in a process to start people thinking about issues, possible projects, and priorities. You might use it later when project ideas have started to emerge. And you might use it at several events, with agencies as well as community interests, to develop shared visions.

What is important before and after a game session?
Before the session – if played ‘for real’ - get to know who’s who and make sure people who might be interested are encouraged to participate; find out what is already happening in the neighbourhood; make sure people know the session will be a creative event not a standard public meeting. After the session keep in touch with those who participated and follow through on any commitment made. Think about how to engage other interests necessary to the success of neighbourhood regeneration.

Useful Games

David Wilcox
020 7600 0104

Drew Mackie
0131 445 5930
Published on the original Useful Games blog

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Launch of the Regeneration Game

We are launching a boxed version The Regeneration Game in November and also running our first two training events with our partners NIACE.Regen game Participants will be able to use the game cards, planning sheet and instructions to develop neighbourhood renewal plans for some fictitious - but realistic - communities that they will invent. You can now buy the game online from NIACE. For more about the game, read on...

Continue reading "Launch of the Regeneration Game"

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Games at conference

nhf.jpgGames can be used even when you have a large number of people at a conference, and not much time.Here's what we did for the National Housing Federation when their information technology specialists gathered in Telford for their annual event earlier this year.

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Running a planning game workshop

dchamp.jpgFor an good example of how our our technology planning game can be used, take a look at the web pages we developed after a day with Digital Champions on the west coast of Scotland. They were helping other residents take advantage of Scottish Executive funding that provided 2000 homes with free computers.

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Why games?

Drew Mackie has written an article on how games can bring benefits to professionals and activists working on local projects. You can download the pdf here.

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Making the Net work for homes

We have done two substantial pieces of work using games to help people plan how to use the Internet in social housing. The first was a study for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which you can read in full here. The second was some follow-up work for Communities Scotland , where we developed a planning toolkit. Although the subject was technology and how to use it, the planning tools of a development route map, cards and planning sheets can be used more generally.

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Explaining social capital

Drew Mackie and David Wilcox ran a session at the Ruralnet conference about social capital, and used simple scenario development to help people explore how social capital relates to physical, human, financial and environmental capital. You can download their presentation and instructions here.

Posted by davidwilcox in Social capital | Permalink | Comments (0)

People-centred business planning

David Wilcox and Ann Holmes were asked by the UnLtd programme - which helps social entrepreneurs - to run a session on business planning 'as if people mattered as much as the figures'. You read about the day and workshop tools they used in October 2003 here.

Posted by davidwilcox in Learning | Permalink | Comments (0)