How games can help craft better policy

Shrabonti Bagchi at LiveMint: “I have never seen economists having fun!” Anantha K. Duraiappah, director of Unesco-MGIEP (Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development), was heard exclaiming during a recent conference. The academics in question were a group of environmental economists at an Indian Society for Ecological Economics conference in Thrissur, Kerala, and they were playing a game called Cantor’s World, in which each player assumes the role of the supreme leader of a country and gets to decide the fate of his or her nation.

Well, it’s not quite as simple as that (this is not Settlers Of Catan!). Players have to take decisions on long-term goals like education and industrialization based on data such as GDP, produced capital, human capital, and natural resources while adhering to the UN’s sustainable development goals. The game is probably the most accessible and enjoyable way of seeing how long-term policy decisions change and impact the future of countries.

That’s what Fields Of View does. The Bengaluru-based non-profit creates games, simulations and learning tools for the better understanding of policy and its impact. Essentially, their work is to make sure economists like the ones at the Thrissur conference actually have some fun while thrashing out crucial issues of public policy.

A screen grab from ‘Cantor’s World’.

A screen grab from ‘Cantor’s World’.

Can policymaking be made more relevant to the lives of people affected by it? Can policymaking be more responsive to a dynamic social-economic-environmental context? Can we reduce the time taken for a policy to go from the drawing board to implementation? These were some of the questions the founders of Fields Of View, Sruthi Krishnan and Bharath M. Palavalli, set out to answer. “There are no binaries in policymaking. There are an infinite set of possibilities,” says Palavalli, who was named an Ashoka fellow in May for his work at the intersection of technology, social sciences and design.

Earlier this year, Fields Of View organized a session of one of its earliest games, City Game, for a group of 300 female college students in Mangaluru. City Game is a multiplayer offline game designed to explore urban infrastructure and help groups and individual understand the dynamics of urban governance…(More)”.