Purge: Role-playing game to learn, and to change

The key message of my presentation was that the ‘social media’ change us, and we need to understand these changes, these transformation to employ all these new tools properly. But our own transformation in turn becomes a tool; or rather it should be understood as a dialectic mixture of both a result of the changes and a prerequisite of those.

In any case, and verbal equilibristics aside, I also suggested for IDN to run a ‘serious game’, an interactive workshop where the participants of the conference could probe different aspects of online communities. The format of the gathering only allowed for a short demo version of such a game, but it was nevertheless worth trying. Fortunately, they agreed, the game was developed and we played it during the opening day of the conference.

In the game (nicknamed ‘Purge’) the community (‘a renown on-line forum of the future thinkers’) had to clean itself from the infiltrated ‘business promoters’, using a combination of open and close votings. The key task of the latter was to pretend as long as possible that they are NOT the corrupters, but the real and devoted members. Although visible powerless, the promoters won! They managed to surviver a number of rounds, malevolently watching the true members being banned, by both the moderators and the general members alike. What a lesson! Almost all the participants knew each other before the game, so the group dynamics remained friendly (which is often not the case), but the emotions were quite hot nevertheless.

Of course, the true value of such exercises appears after at least a few games played, when people have a chance to try different roles and – most importantly – reflect on how and why they played those roles. But well, it was a good start anyway, I believe quite insightful for many players.

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