At the Rethinking Research: Disrupting and Challenging Research Practices conference where I was presenting a mapping session, one of the sessions I attended as a delegate was “Hacking the University Game” led by Luca Morin from Coventry University.
I hadn’t intended to attend this session, however as the presenter of the session I was in hadn’t turned up, I had to make another choice so came in late to this one.
When I arrived Luca was taking about the Landlord Game and Monopoly and on the table was a selection of dice, playing cards, blocks, pen, blank cards, pieces and other stuff.
A bit unsure of the aim of the session I listened carefully and tried to get up to speed.
The first activity (for me) in the workshop was for our table to design a “Vice-Chancellor’s Game”.
When it comes to game design you need to reflect on the aim of the game, what do the players need to do to “win”, is this a competitive or a collaborative game.
My thinking was that there were two approaches to this game, one was to focus on a single university or to go for a UK wide game where universities compete against each other.
In the UK wide game, players would be vice-chancellors competing against each other to make their university the best and win the game.
In a single university game you could have a competitive game where the players play characters who are senior managers competing with each others to become Vice-Chancellor. Another game could have the players collaborating together to make their university the most successful.
On our table we took the choice of a single university competitive game with the vice-chancellor “competing” with the academic staff, students and professional services.
Each player has a unique table with attributes that reflect their role’s objectives. We used blocks to RAG (red, amber green) rate each attribute. Then using some kind of process, players play cards against each other or themselves. These would then improve or deprecate their RAG ratings. These cards can be offset by dice rolls (and or money).The aim of the game is for the players to ensure all their attributes green.
It was an interesting exercise in thinking about the game idea and start to reflect on the mechanics about how this game would work. As with any game the mechanics and algorithms would reflect the bias of the game designer, so that would need to be taken into account.
For me the process of designing a game is probably more useful than playing the game itself for participants. I enjoyed this aspect of the session.
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