Friday, January 15, 2010

Breath-taking pace

i recently took a moment to consider what's happened since my partners and i at G4D agreed to embark on this endeavor.
  • G4D was incorporated
  • G4D infrastructure (business account, payroll, website, etc) established
  • G4D staff trained in Innovation Games facilitation
  • G4D contacted by City of San Jose to help with a citizen's outreach program for their next budget
  • G4D contacted by Kansas State legislature's Gov't 2.0 program (KLISS) to investigate possible engagement
  • G4D contacted by Grameen Foundation's cloud-based micro-finance service
  • G4D contacted by the Icelandic Gov't to look at potential citizen involvement program
  • G4D's first trial game of Buy-a-Feature in a healthcare system was run and a great success
  • G4D has received nearly 26,000 USD in donations
  • G4D has received nearly 100,000 USD in in-kind donation of time and resources
  • G4D has added the following volunteers
    • David Chilcott -- Bay Area Agilist and Consultant
    • Antoinetta Latev -- Software architect
  • In addition to it's staff which includes
    • Greg Meredith
    • Stani Meredith
    • Joel David Palmer
    • Luke Hohmann
i'm writing this entry having just gotten off the phone with Gudlaugur Egilsson who is tasked with designing a process for renewing public engagement in Iceland over the Icesave legislation. He is quite keen to use a game.

We are well into the execution stage of setting up the January 25th 2010 game of Buy-a-Feature in a Healthcare System at the Spitfire in Seattle. Part of what fuels my excitement for this event is the trial game we ran on Jan 3rd. The results were so positive and reaffirming of what we know to be true about people's deep-seated need to re-engage that -- as you know if you read my last blog entry -- i felt compelled to craft this open letter to WA state senators.

Clearly, this is a breath-taking pace. i believe it's an indication that we're doing something that people recognize is necessary and timely. So, i hope you will consider coming to our event and seeing first hand what is underway.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Open letter to US Senators

Dear Ms. Murray and Ms Cantwell,

i am a managing partner of Games for Democracy, a non-profit organization recently created to employ the techniques of serious play and serious games to refresh and renew public engagement in public policy. We ran a first trial of the Innovation Game, Buy-a-Feature on a list of features in a health care system, using features culled from the summaries of the House and Senate health care proposals. As you can see in the summary results at this web page the players were given a feature list with prices associated to each feature. They were then given a small sum of monopoly money and were asked to bid on the features they wanted to see implemented.

This is qualitative -- not quantitative research -- but the results were striking. You can see the feature ranking in column S. A feature distinguished by its absence was the mandatory individual insurance. Other points easy to spot in the results summary include the level of collaboration to ensure that an insurance pooling mechanism was purchased, as well as the strong interest in prevention and wellness and long term care. Perhaps the most striking result of all was the near universal statement of the players at the outset of the game that they knew very little about the legislation being proffered by there representatives, and how at the end the near universal sentiment that they had learned more about the issues in 35 mins of play than they had in several weeks of listening to the news coverage. Or perhaps the most striking was that 6 people from fairly different walks of life (engineers, owners of a local bakery, home-makers and bachelors) with fairly different political views could sit together and exchange ideas and information, recognize what they knew and the limitations of their knowledge, and come away evidently energized and motivated.

Of course, a game of 6 players is hardly worth the attention of a US Senator. However, it is the aim of our organization to run games of this kind on a nation-wide basis. We work with the Innovations Games Company, who provide an online version of this and other games. Our remit in this initial phase of our endeavor is to utilize in-person events and online tools to take this kind of approach to the people nationally and globally.

We are few, with very little resources. Just to get this crude instrument together has taken many, many person hours of our staff. We could use help from our representatives. We could use help getting better summaries of features of the health care system legislation. We could use help getting a more accurate representation of the relative costs of those features. We could use help finding people who would like to participate in this effort to bootstrap our understanding of these very important issues. We could use the very informed and experienced views you might bring to playing the games themselves.

We are running our next game on Jan 25 and intend to include community leaders from Seattle, the Bay area and Boulder Co.

Best wishes in the New Year,