Budget Games 2013 Aalbeke (Kortrijk): Reflections

Being well prepared is half the effort. Preparations done and documents distributed. One last Hangout for clarification. Collaborators on time to get into the mood. Collaborators set.

The game arena was opened by Mayor Vincent Van Quickenborne and organizer Jurgen De Smet.

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Here are my reflections of this unique event.

A poll after the game among the participants gave an appreciated impression. A clear explanation of the goal and purpose was however necessary. Simple, short and goal oriented. And frequently repeated.

Given that the players gradually arrived, this was an open opportunity. Almost everyone must have heard the rules individually. Early birds got repetition at regular intervals. It gave me the opportunity as a facilitator to "welcome" the participants in the game atmosphere and to get to know them better.

I forgot to do an introductory round-table. Reflecting on it later, it seemed even better this way. The collective mindset was central. No need for boasting about CV's here, on the contrary, triggered prejudice is not desirable. Further ingredients: Your taxes, your opinion, collective paying, knowing that, most probably, the opinions of the other gaming tables would not be that different, and these similarities would attract attention. Constraints at work: combining strangers triggered openness. Being out of your comfort zone in a gaming concept also triggered collabortion. The simplicity of the game concept makes it waterproof, provided there is strong diversity and balanced involvement. The latter needed active facilitation:  diversity comes also as verbal imbalance. Repeatedly asking the group for the most important item kept the momentum going. This way, the most important items to the participants were covered for the given budget. When encountering opposition, I handled the situation by:

  • Roman vote (consensus on a purchase needs no further detail)
  • New proposals (group diversity clearly exceeded ingenuity of the given list)
  • Allow both parties to explain what they mean exactly(disagreement is often only by perception)
  • Clarification by subject matter experts

The presence of Cliff as an observer was helpful when it came to things a facilitator tends to miss. After the break, the items on which there was consensus were known, and neatly listed by Cliff. The bidding could start.

When the participants had indicated their paid credits, Cliff switched to co-facilitator mode. Co-facilitation was no luxury once we were trying to find consensusm motivatig co-purchasing , highlighting savings and redirect towards new proposals. While filing who purchased what, the list of payments was kept by Cliff.

Budget shortage as a constraint encourages collaboration

With your full attention on keeping the players actively involved by asking questions, you're less occupied with the calculations. Again, Cliff's assistance was very welcome: the inevitable demand for the remaining group budget was already calculated at every point in time. At the end of the evening everyone started to get tired. At a cost: participants were so happy the budget came to a nice fit and the new proposals (with large supporting base) of that evening were skipped. On top of that, they were all low cost to free initiatives. Strictly proposed (individual) goals at the start of that evening were easily sacrificed for the collective goals. The consensus at the end contained items with relatively high costs and no group support initially! These games did not only trigger colorful discussions. They allowed for clarification in what many citizens seem to not understand very easily:

Budget shortage means making choices.

Buget Games. Making choices.

Together.

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