By now, you have learned about the idea behind our game as well as the theory behind the game´s title. Now, we want to address the question of how our game provides educational value for the players. As this might be easier to illustrate through an example, let us start by introducing two important gameplay mechanics in this post: The “parliament” and the “policies”. To make things also more interesting, we will reveal the main goodie in our board game box at the end of the article.
While the players interact with each other, all their social and economic goals heavily rely on the policies being debated upon in the parliament. Here, the players fight for their political influence in order to pass bills and implement policies which might be beneficial for their cause. Shifting alliances will happen quite frequently here- help a player by voting for a policy that might be beneficial for him/her and he/she will return the favor soon enough. Over time, therefore, these policies will shape the state´s ideological alignment.
Ideologically, the state can move into a more “socialist” direction, take a “neoliberal” route, or, instead, embrace a “mixed economy” approach based on how effectively the players as their social classes manage to influence the elections. What now may sound very technical is actually quite intuitive: The “socialist” policies simply mean that certain societal issues are taken into public hands (hence the word “social”). Therefore, the state gains a bigger role in ensuring its citizens’ education, health care and labor rights and, effectively, gains a bigger budget. On the other hand, neoliberal policies put the responsibility for these issues back into the hands of individuals with even, low taxation rates across all classes and a stricter fiscal policy. Finally, the “mixed economy” is the famous “middle ground” of both views. Additionally, the players can also decide in the parliament if they want to open the country up for immigration and foreign trade with a “globalized” attitude or close the borders with a more nationalist mindset. How all of those policies relate to the player´s roles will be revealed in a later post. For now, let’s turn to our main question:
We now presented you two gameplay mechanics of our game- but how do these examples actually generate any knowledge and, therefore, provide educational value? First of all, the concepts we employ have their origin in the real world and are terms that you might probably have already heard. Be it policy, ideology, socialism, neoliberalism, lobbying in the parliament and so on, all of those terms are being debated upon in societies around the globe and we simply adjusted them to fit the logic of our game without strapping them of the underlying theoretical ideas. Based on our two examples, the players can, therefore, learn more about different socio-economic systems and will be able to categorize different policies based on the measures they promote (e.g. privatized healthcare is a neoliberal policy as it emphasizes the responsibility of the individual).
As you can also see by our two examples, Gramsci is not the only theoretical inspiration that guided the development of our game. In fact, many more political and economic theorists accompanied us as well, ranging from Keynes, Friedman and von Hayek all the way back to Rousseau, Locke, Hobbes, Marx and many more. However, we don’t want to stop at them just being mere inspirations for our game. We want to make their theories visible to enhance the game´s educational potential. In order to do so, we decided to include an academic booklet in the game which will explain a lot of concepts from the political economy, economics and political science, such as democracy, political parties, lobbying, market structures, fiscal policy and many, many more. That way, the players can experience the political and economic workings of a nation in a fun way by playing the game, and later on, can get an in-depth look into the academic theories behind it. In our opinion, this synergy between fun and theory creates the biggest educational value of our game and will enable the players to understand and conceptualize political and economic events in the real world far better. This is our vision and we are thrilled to see both parts fusing together in our development process.
In this article, you got to know two of the most important gameplay mechanics and the educational value behind them as well as behind our game in general. Additionally, we revealed the goodie in our board game box which will drastically enhance the educational potential of our game: the academic booklet! However, to incorporate theories into our game also comes with certain risks, most importantly, a “normative bias”. To find out what that means, how it (subconsciously) governs our life and how we address it, check out this article!