Playing the Social Collaboration Game

On Saturday at SHINE09 about 40 people spent a couple of hours playing the Social Collaboration Game …  mixing regeneration challenges, social media tools and a splash of Social Innovation Camp. The session generated a lot of buzz as groups pitched entrepreurial ideas for tackling social, environmental and economic problems in a fictitious borough not unlike east London.

We started with Jess Tyrrell of Germination playing council leader, and explaining how they hoped social entrepreneurs would come up with some innovative project ideas. Cliff Prior of Unltd was a very convincing Civil Society Minister in a new Tory Government of 2010 promoting localism and a shift from big central funds to social enterprise. William Perrin gave an spirited account of how the KingsCrossEnvironment blog has successfully acted as a campaigning focus for the area – and how the 4ip-funded Talk About Local project will spread the model country-wide.

Everyone then milled about to form groups and come up with project ideas, which they took to Jess and Cliff for initial approval. If they got the nod, they were give a set of cards representing technology tools and other methods for project development, and offered mentoring from Amy Sample Ward and Andy Gibson.

The cards each had an image, description and budget points of 1,2 or 3 representing cost or difficulty. Groups had to choose cards totalling 10 points and pitch back to Jess and Cliff ideas that would fit into their earlier briefing. Download the cards here or view below on Scribd.

Cards for Social Collaboration Game at Shine09 Cards for Social Collaboration Game at Shine09 socialreporter

Cliff livened things up by announcing a new local empowerment fund created from repaid MPs expenses, and there was a serious risk it would gather credibility on Twitter where people was rating the game as scarily true to life … if confusing. About which more later.

Most of the projects were around engaging with young people, including helping them find and develop more opportunities in neighbourhoods where gang territorialism restricted movement and activities.

We had Mark Kelly of, and Ravinol Chambers of  Be Inspired Films, capturing what was happening. Here’s his terrific account of how we played.

Thanks to Richard McKeever of Community Links for help with the background scenario, and to friends at Communities and Local Government in flagging up details of existing funding currently available from Futurebuilders, the Grassroots programme and other sources: details at Office of the Third Sector. There’s also a £7.5 million Empowerment Fund, and a £70 million Communitybuilders programme. All info about voluntary and community sector funding at I think there’s real scope for developing the game in a way that would tie more directly into these and other sources of funding, and so provide a “for real” ways of planning how to bring social tech into the mix.

The game was developed from early work with Drew Mackie – examples here at usefulgames – and also from discussions with Jess, Amy and Andy. I put the final format together, and now have plenty of ideas about how it could be improved. Drew flew down from Scotland the night before, and was on hand during the day to guide the play where possible … but we could have done with more time for preparation. Drew is the real games and simulation expert.

Here’s how we planned the game, how it worked in practice on the day, together with our reflections. The main points were much clearer briefing and instructions; developing a short version of the scenario; explaining the role of social technology; change the bidding process. We also suffered from the acoustics of The Hub where we played the game, making it a bit difficult to tell groups what was happening and what to do next.  Download here or view below on Scribd.

Social Collaboration game SHINE09 Social Collaboration game SHINE09 socialreporter

I’ll add more about the results of the game when we have some video – but meanwhile would love to hear from groups about the projects they developed, and also any reflections on how it worked as a session.

If you are in London on June 2, do join us for a shorter revised run of the game at Net Tuesday.

Photos by Daniel J Wilcox – view here as slideshow.

Update: Amy Sample Ward has more excellent ideas on how we can improve the game posted here.

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