The main plot consists of a communicative negotiation and strategic handling of a complex situation at university that involves
various stakeholders, both within and without it. The game fosters cultural awareness and self-reflection, appreciation of and a creative approach towards diversity, as well as general communicative, social, and team competencies. Since it does not require any specialised prior knowledge, ‘Experiment D’ potentially addresses students of all disciplines.
The main content of the game consists in a negotiation of, and coping with, a complex emergency situation at a university/college that involves communication with various stakeholders both with and without the organisation itself. At the onset, the participants were presented with the following story:
At a university in a medium-sized town, a dragon (‘Object D’) was cloned as a side product of a bioengineering experiment. The available third-party funds, which may otherwise have been used for its study, are nearly exhausted and the subsequent funding application has been turned down due to an interference of the Ethics Council. The university innovation budget would likewise not suffice to conduct further research on this unprecedented phenomenon. Both the scientists and the university administration are, however, interested in the resumption of the experiment and are currently looking for alternative funding options. Representatives of the industry try to seize the opportunity and approach them with various offers. Furthermore, two influential local initiatives, the action group FEDORA (For Environment, Democratic Opportunities and Realistic Approaches) as well as the animal protection society Cloud Nine, are vehemently protesting against the experiment, although on different grounds. The mayor is running for re-election and is therefore trying to mediate between the parties: it is the university that provides most workplaces for the local community that has a hard time dealing with high rates of unemployment, detrimental state of many buildings and vacant premises in the town centre. In the course of the game, all actors should attempt to work out a satisfactory solution for the crisis in accordance with their respective functional roles.
Roles in the game include members of the university administration (President, Chancellor, PR Manager), researchers (Head of the Department, Head of the Laboratory, further scientific staff), local authorities (Mayor, Mayor’s Aide), representatives of FEDORA and Cloud Nine as well as deputies of the industrial corporations Ignis Bio and Lux.
The game was tested out in the course of five 90-minute-long sessions. Each of those included the phases of briefing, intervention, and debriefing. The first session started with an introduction to the game concept and narrative by the facilitators, after which individual roles were assigned and the preliminary strategic brainstorming within separate action groups took place.
The second session encompassed three parallel discussion rounds between different stakeholders. The third session consisted of two parallel discussion rounds in larger stakeholder groups. In the fourth session, all participants met at a round table for the final negotiation. Each session began with a briefing and closed with a debriefing. In the fifth and final game session, the participants discussed the game experience and outcomes and were instructed in written self-reflection
The game process was facilitated by the use of the Learning Management System (LMS), which enabled individual actors and stakeholder groups to maintain active asynchronous contact between separate sessions. The game could not, however, be fully converted to a digital format. Aside from LMS, students both engaged in face-to-face interactions and exchanged information and relevant materials (e.g., open letters and press releases) via private communication channels such as messaging apps, and e-mail. Between the first and the second session, the facilitators also published a controversial newspaper article on LMS in order to additionally stimulate the game dynamic.
During the whole game, the following rules of communication applied: (1) each role had to be performed with its functional description in mind; (2) everyone was free to communicate with other people and groups; (3) language(s) of communication could be chosen freely; (4) participants were free to use any analogue or digital channels of communication for exchange of information, campaigning and public relations activities; (5) the participants had to abide by the game agenda and the time plan; (6) all agents and stakeholder groups were expected to develop and pursue their own strategy; their respective goals had to be attained up to 80% at least.
Rebane, G., & Arnold, M. (2021). Experiment D’ – Serious Game for the Development of Intercultural Competence. Concept, Content, and Experiences. In Carmo, M. (Ed.), Education and New Developments 2021. Lisboa: inScience Press. URL https://end-educationconference.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/END-2021_Book-of-Proceedings.pdf#page=401" class="wiki wikinew text-danger tips">https://end-educationconference.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/END-2021_Book-of-Proceedings.pdf#page=401 17/07/2021.