Version 0.5 to 0.6 – Game-play simplification

Following the last game test, a lot of changes are needed to simplify the game-play and make it fit together as a coherent whole so a new version will be made.

The changes will still need to adhere to the key principles of the game: to simulate and teach democratic decision making and negotiation processes; to share mutual knowledge about CLTs, the local neighbourhood and available resources; to encourage ideas, innovation and sharing; and to provide participatory input for real-world design interventions.


The scoring system was far too complicated for the players to understand quickly without the help of the Facilitator. This slows down the game and prevents the Facilitator having time to give advice on the content instead of the Game Mechanism. The record sheet (below) will be replaced with a simpler ‘Abacus’ outlined later but the major change will be to remove the ‘Time-bank (TB)’ scoring system and leaving only ‘People Power (PP)’, ‘Income’and ‘Capital’.

The record card from the last game highlights the complexity of the scoring system and is not clear for players reading it

The ‘Time-bank’ score represented the real-world number of hours that actions and interventions would take. This is a key factor in making the game represent the real challenges of setting up and running a CLT.

However, it is directly related to the amount of ‘People Power’ the organisation has: The more ‘People Power’ the more hours can be volunteered. So ‘People Power’ can cover it in part.

Later in the organisation/game paid staff will be able to commit significantly more hours to its development represented previously by complicated multipliers. ‘People Power’ can’t represent this. Instead, by restricting the number of interventions that can be played each turn and by the fact that the larger interventions that require more time are only released to the players when the ‘CLT Team’ has been played, I believe it still realistically reflects the limited time available.

Actor Cards – Precariousness factor

Using points on the Intervention cards to indicate how they would affect each Actor proved to be clunky and another complication. It also relied on how the Actors will be affected being predetermined by the designer. This is in fact a very debatable factor so the mechanism should allow for the players’ own opinion and agency on how the intervention would affect their Actor.

The point of the Actor cards is to get the players to think from another person’s perspective by advocating for them as well as their own.

What really needs to be considered is how Precarious the Actors situations are. The environment can push a person to a more or less precarious situation but in the end it is down to them how they let that affect them.

To resolve this I will test a Precariousness scale on the Actor cards. This can be a slider on each Actor Card. At the end of each turn/year they will have to make a decision as to whether they think the changes that happened have made their Actor’s situations more Precarious or more Secure and move the slider accordingly.

This should make the players think and debate more carefully how the situations imagined will affect people. A personal card with the player’s name on could also be used so that they reflect on their own situation as well.

Making holders that prop the Actor cards up will remind players who everyone represents.

Proposal Decks

To overcome the confusion of all the players negotiating and planning together, while still allowing them to collaborate, I will introduce Proposal Decks. As outlined below, they will aid the players in planning interventions to propose to the rest of the group. Planning and negotiating with their two neighbouring players. The proposed decks will give the group clearer options to vote for and by only being able to implement one Proposal Deck will represent the limited capacity of the organisation each year.

The Abacus

To simplify the scoring process and make the current score clearer to everyone at all times, an upright score chart with slide bars will be tested. The slides will reduce the need to be extremely accurate with figures and hopefully speed up the game-play, giving more time to negotiation and conversation about the real-world issues to be discussed in the game.

Site/Board and Place Cards

So that players get a clearer connection to at least some of the available spaces on the site, Place Cards will be introduced instead of just having the information printed on the board. These will function and be played as Resource Cards along with the existing Funding Cards.

The sketch below outlines how these could work and be integrated in the Board/Site Map. It also introduces different options of how the spaces could be used by the CLT:

Occupy: Temporary occupation of a space for up to a year either illegally (Dice Roll to see if you get away with it) or with a sympathetic/partner organisation when you have enough ‘People Power’ to influence them.

Hire: An annual cost

Buy: A Capital expense

Card Holders

Card holders can be made so that they are kept visible and tidy. Players will be able to easily see the options they have to choose from. The Intervention cards can be split by scale and the Resource Cards by type. Cost information can be kept hidden behind the front of the holder.

Turn Sequence

All these changes will be brought together with the revised turn sequence outlined below:

  1. Year Start – Each player draws two Resource cards. Facilitator plays predicted events/Wild Cards. Set your proposal decks to match the Abacus stats.
  2. Planning phase – 5 min – Players negotiate and set out two proposal decks with their two neighbouring players with cards for both or just one of their hands.
  3. Pitching Phase – 1 min – Each pair of players pitches to the board how and why they think their proposal would be best for the organisation.
  4. Voting Phase – When the players have all proposed their interventions they must vote on their favourite proposal by placing their vote chip on it.
  5. Implementation Phase – The winning pair now plays the Resource and Intervention cards in the order they choose with the facilitator adjusting the Abacus as they go.
    They stop once all the cards are played or there are insufficient resources (unused cards go back in your hand).
  6. Effects Phase – Each player takes turns to adjust their Actor’s Precariousness scale and explain why. The Facilitator draws the proposed interventions on the map.
  7. Year End – If you have used Intervention cards, draw new ones from any tier so that you are holding four. All the players then pass one intervention card to the player to their left. They then discard one intervention card to the back of the deck and pick up a new one.

This should also allow each turn (game year) to be played in a maximum of around 15/20 minutes with 8/10 years allowing for a significant large intervention (i.e. housing proposal) to be played by the end of the game.

Feedback Forms

At the end of each game, players can complete feedback forms initially to comment on game-play but during real workshop series to inform design and development ideas based on what they have learnt and discussed.

Role of the Facilitator

The changes allow the players to be pretty self-sufficient with the game-play so that the Facilitator can just act as a technical adviser for the actual content (CLTs, site info, mediation).

This will hopefully free up enough time for them to draw the proposals put forward onto the board representing the players’ desires during the game-play so that a clear design strategy can emerge from it.

Next Steps

The new components will be drafted out and the existing cards updated ready for the next game mechanism test. Stats for place cards etc. will be based on assumptions. The next game test, this weekend, will test out this revised mechanism ready for the final tests of this series at Primary on the 29th of September.

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