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Report game group – 3rd GSS preparatory meeting

GSS Preparatory Meeting on October 29 2013 – Report on Working Group Session on Games for GSS

Games and the act of playing is one of those things that are innate with human beings, they are structural and universal, a real global thing. Therefore, the group considers games in general and not only computer games as an important topic to be considered for the conference. On one side computer games have the advantage of being scalable, easy to distribute and easy in the collection of results, on the other side the traditional types of games (e.g., board games) provide the basic face-to-face interactions and the physical movement of resources on the board; the physical dimension may also be essential for games.

The realization of a game might have several purposes considered by the game designer. Some examples are as follows: motivating and involving participants (i.e., citizens), informing about the complexities of a problem, creating narratives for the citizens, help creating strategies, or create a shared compromise, but it may also be a vehicle for learning about the true behavior of people.

These objectives can be considered alone, but most likely the creator of the game has several of them in mind. For example, a game was organized in the city of Portland, OR, to find the consensus on the location of a recycling facility. Also at company level real games\challenges\competitions with real resources are being tested. Further application examples are welcome for the conference.

Considering the computer implementation aspects, games for the GSS kind of purpose do not have to be complex or as resource demanding as the modern computer games. The group considers that simple graphics is sufficient and maybe it is better a simple game co-created with potential participants than a graphic intense game but lacking content and challenges for the user. Nonetheless, tools and methods to create GSS games are among the topics invited for the conference. The creation of a sort of GSS game platform, where GSS scientists have a easy-to-develop solution and can easily develop plug-ins to be connected in the platform creating specific games, is a long-term plan.

The group thinks that in order to achieve the best results in term of publication and audience, the GSS scientists interested in games should partner with the experts of other relevant fields. For example, Simulation and Gaming is an established community since the 70s with conferences and scientific journal in place (Simulation & Gaming journal). Similarly, Behavioral Economics uses tools and techniques that have much to share with GSS games.

The group thinks that one of the major challenges in creating a GSS game is the “gamification” process that converts a (scientific) model into something that is fun t play with. Also the games contain by definition the concept of uncertainty that usually in the models is hardly taken into account or it is considered in a kind of artificial manner (especially in the financial context).

Considering the conference the work group considers:
– a traditional paper session
– a demo session where participants can play games that were submitted to the conference on site
– a collective game could be played/developed throughout the conference

There is a natural interplay between GSS gaming and GSS experimentation. Whether those should be considered independently for the conference or in a joint session, needs further considerations.