On Wednesday, October 21 the EA Berlin office provided the setting for a serious gaming night. Around 20 people from various backgrounds came together, among them activists, artists, researchers and individual members of the EA Berlin network. In three groups they explored future scenarios of an EU economy aiming at a sustainable future. The game was run by Dr. Laurent Bontoux, Policy Analyst at the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission, and organised in collaboration with the Ecologic Institute Berlin and Ecoscholars.
Bontoux’s team at the JRC developed the serious game to enable players to experience and act through plausible alternative futures, by thinking and conversing systemically outside of their usual frame of reference. Additionally, the game also attempts to retrieve insights for ‘real life’ EU policy makers to actually foresee which possible actions may lay ahead for possible use in the future or already today.
To be able to take as realistic actions as possible, the game uses four scenarios from a JRC foresight study to provide a framework for the alternative future worlds that players explore. The scenarios range in a cross from no to high fiscal intervention on the horizontal and from no to a high degree of collaboration between civil society organisations, businesses, EU policy makers and other policy makers on the vertical. The four categories of actors are represented in the game by one player each. In three rounds, looking five, ten and then twenty years ahead, an additional player, the public voice gives an insight into society’s perspective. Its point of view can change in the three rounds and is not necessarily always in line with the societal drive which functions as an underlying variable to take into account in the players’ actions.
To give the game an even more realistic twist, other variables such as ‘hyper-connectivity’ or ‘rapid urbanisation’ specify the setting in which players act. A wide set of conditions for action as well as occurring issues such as migration related to the overarching theme of climate change make the game complex as well as realistic. A token system weighs the success of actions taken by the four actors. Especially important in this stage is the judgement made by the public voice. Whereas actions such as an investment in Research and Development of a policy maker may make sense in a generally collaborative and hyper-connected setting, the public voice may prefer at that stage of the game an investment in infrastructure of a regional company. As in real life, it remains difficult to take actions that incorporate everybody’s interests, or to stick to decisions made on principle.
After previous game sessions with actual policy makers, business owners and civil society representatives, the diverse group in Berlin provided an alternative but no less strategic perspective on actions to be taken in future world scenarios. Given the framework of migration as an issue resulting from climate changes, players discussed a wide range of options for, in particular, collaborative actions towards sustainable paths of the EU’s economy.