Regeneration game reaches China

Jane BerryChinese social entrepreneurs now have the benefit of some innovative (and fun) planning tools to help improve urban and rural neighbourhoods, thanks to my friend at ruralnet|uk, Jane Berry. I think Jane picked up some ideas too.
A couple of weeks back Jane called to say she was off to Beijing, and please could she have some games to take. No surprise, since she has been a collaborator with Drew Mackie and I over the past few years in developing workshop techniques to help people work out how to set up everything from online community networks to technology centres and one-stop rural service hubs.
Fortunately our development partners NIACE rushed over a couple of boxes of The Regeneration Game, and you can see the hand-over here. Jane says it was rather more than a formality, and local people at the Shining Stone Community Centre quickly put together their own version of the game which, as her official press release says, led to "heated discussions" into the evening. Some things are the same the world over.
The trip for three UK social entrepreneurs was organised by GLI - Global Links Initiative - and was supported by the British Consulate-General, Shanghai.

FlipchartJane's sessions went beyond the Regeneration Game, and in the pictogram on the flip chart (right) I can identify an attractive and intriguing version of ruralnet|uk's model for a sustainable multi-use service centre.

The various games developed with Drew and Jane use cards to represent project ideas, with cartoons, budget points, descriptions, and hints about resources needed. The group playing the game has the task of choosing projects to address challenges in their situation within a given budget, and then turning the choices into an action plan. For the Regeneration game we had the added expertise of NIACE, and the particular pleasure there of working with Jane Thompson and Cheryl Turner. We've found games worked well in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Spain and no doubt other places too, since many of the games are available online. They have the added advantage of being a fun way of getting to know new people, and leaving them with something that is hopefully useful when you go. I hope Jane has brought back some useful contacts.....
Update: Jane told me: "I was delighted to find Chinese community groups much more open and dynamic than I had expected, unexpectedly vocal in their insistence on participation, self-determination and the need for change, and anxious to learn lessons both from within the country and beyond. There is a strong recognition that the next steps for Chinese non-profits are to work more closely with each other, as well as to find ways of reflecting the needs and wishes of their target groups."

Ruralnet|uk press release
Download an article on Why games (pdf)
Questions and Answers about The Regeneration Game
Where to buy the Regeneration Game

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Buy the Regeneration Game

The Regeneration Game, which enables groups to plan a programme of projects to improve their neighbourhood, is now available as a boxed version with four sets of cards, instructions and planning sheets.
You can order from the NIACE site.
Questions and answers about the Regeneration Game
If you would like us to run an event using the game, contact David Wilcox

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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...

The Regeneration Game is based on a range of games developed since the mid 1990's by Drew Mackie and David Wilcox - many of them designed to help groups plan technology projects. You can see some of those at the Making the Network site with free cards and instructions.
The boxed game includes sets of 52 cards with ideas for regeneration projects, planning sheets, and instructions for facilitators.Game cards It also has a booklet on how games can be a highly effective way of helping groups solve problems, and information about where to get funding for many of the project ideas on the cards.
The Regeneration Game has been developed with Jane Thompson and Cheryl Turner of the adult learning organisation NIACE, that has also designed and published the game.
They write: "Participation and partnership are accepted as fundamental to successful neighbourhood renewal and yet on the ground, residents are increasingly sceptical and tired of 'being consulted', activists are overwhelmed by the demands of more meetings, and policy-makers are frustrated by delays in achieving crucial results. Doing more of the same is not enough. We need credible and imaginative new ways of supporting diverse groups of people in working and learning together.
"Endorsed by the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit, this exciting resource offers a refreshingly different approach to achieving proper collaboration between diverse groups of people. Using a card game format, it enables people to understand the problems of regeneration better, to plan feasible solutions, and to appreciate alternative perspectives. Ideal for staff development and for use in 'real' situations with residents, activists and professionals, it is simple to use, fun to play and above all, highly effective." Questions and answers about the Regeneration GameFor more about games, contact Drew Mackie or David Wilcox

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