Games for Top Civil Servants: An Integrated Approach

Games for Top Civil Servants: An Integrated Approach

Hester Stubbé (TNO, The Netherlands), Josine G. M. van de Ven (TNO, The Netherlands) and Micah Hrehovcsik (HKU University of Arts – Utrecht, The Netherlands)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8200-9.ch070


In designing De BurgemeesterGame—The Mayor Game—we aimed to develop a game that would be used and appreciated by a target population that was hardly used to being trained and had little affinity with applied gaming: mayors. To make sure that the (learning) goals, the context, the characteristics of the target population, and the creative design were all integrated into the game, we chose to work in a consortium with a focus group. We included engaging elements like simple gameplay based on actual processes, authentic scenarios presented in the way of dilemmas, time pressure, and collaboration. This resulted in a game that was accepted by the target population and has been played by more than half of all mayors in The Netherlands. Mayors feel the game challenges them to explore their decision making during crisis management and stimulates them to discuss this with other mayors.
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Our consortium consisted of three main partners, covering the three main roles in game design: (1) Domain experts, (2) Educational experts and (3) Game design experts. (1) Domain experts have expertise in the domain for which the game is designed. They can have knowledge about and contacts in the domain (internal expert) or they can be working in the domain (external expert). In our consortium we used both. (2) Educational experts have expertise in defining competencies and in selecting the didactics needed in the game to achieve the learning goals. (3) Game design experts know how to make a game work and involve players. They also have technical knowledge and experience about possibilities to include certain elements into the game, and how. The three partners and the focus group together have the knowledge needed to develop a serious game that will be accepted in the domain, that will support participants to develop themselves in the competencies decided upon and that they like to work with. Collaboratively we went through the design process, each contributing on the basis of their own expertise.

Figure 1.

Three main roles to develop a successful serious game

The companies involved in our consortium were:

  • TNO is an independent research organization whose expertise and research make an important contribution to the competitiveness of companies and organizations, to the economy and to the quality of society as a whole. TNO’s unique position can be attributed to its versatility and capacity to integrate this knowledge. We develop knowledge not for its own sake but for practical application. To create new products that make life more pleasant and valuable and help companies innovate. To find creative answers to the questions posed by society. TNO took the role of internal domain expert and educational expert.

  • HKU University of the Arts, Utrecht is one of the largest schools of art in Europe. Students are offered preparatory courses, bachelor and master programs and research degrees in fine art, design, media, games and interaction, music, theatre and arts management. The HKU’s Games and Interaction research group works on innovation in designing games and playful interaction. We ask how design can create more impact in both entertainment and the application in areas such as cultural heritage, learning & inspiration, healthcare & wellbeing, science, ecology and organizational change. The HKU took the role of game design expert.

  • T-Xchange and Thales designs and develops serious games for public and private organizations. They have in-depth knowledge of using serious games and gaming as facilitating instruments to support time and place invariant human dialog and reasoning during social interactions at individual and group levels, and more importantly, making these sense-making processes transparent during creative explorative stages of problem solving activities. T-Xchange/Thales took the role of game design expert.

Apart from that we had a focus group, consisting of external experts like trainers and coaches of mayors, a former mayor and experts who work with mayors during a crisis. The Genootschap van Burgemeesters (Dutch Association of Mayors) has helped us to develop the scenarios for the game, based on authentic incidents and real crises. The Institute for Safety (IFV) has played an important role in making a training, including the game, available for the domain and in the training of trainers.


Setting The Stage (500 Woorden) 647

Figure 2.

Kick-off event with 20 mayors playing the game simultaneous

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