World Goodwill Plays the 2030 SDGs Game
Last month two representatives from World Goodwill were delighted to attend a gathering in Islington, London, to participate in one of the launch events for the English language edition of a board game designed to deepen understanding of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The game was designed and introduced in Japan in 2016. Since then it has become something of a social phenomenon throughout the country, receiving widespread media coverage, and attracting over 12,000 participants in 2017. We learnt about the London launch from one of the games designers, Takeshi Muranaka, who we met at the Arcane School Conference earlier in the month. He and fellow designer Takeo Inamura are founding directors of NGO Imacocollabo
Fourteen of us gathered around two large tables to play the game. It can be played by as few as five up to a maximum of 50 people. Some gatherings in Japan have included up to 100 players, which requires two games playing in parallel. The game itself takes about an hour, but with an introduction about the SDGs and an important post-game period for group reflection, our whole experience lasted 3 hours.
There are full descriptions online at https://english.imacocollabo.or.jp/2030sdgs/ and at http://2030sdgsgame.com. The game begins with each player receiving a set of token cards for money and token cards for time; a goal card; and three project cards. The money, time and project cards can be freely traded with other players to reach whatever goal the player has been assigned. Goal cards vary from ‘Fortune Seeker’ to ‘Living in Comfort and Leisure’ and ‘Environmental Conservation Warrior’. The Fortune Seeker card that one of us received specified two goals: to end the game with a certain amount of money; and with a sufficiently abundant world to be able to use the money earned. Project cards define specific development projects, identifying the units of money and time that will need to be invested to achieve the project. Each project affects a running score for the entire group, showing the impact of completed projects on the ‘State of the World’ with measures for the global economy, for the environment and for society. When the player has traded with others to earn what is needed to complete one of their projects, it is exchanged for a new project, any rewards are collected, and most importantly, the ‘State of the World’ board is updated.
The game really draws attention to the role of goals and intentions and develops skills in cooperation to achieve individual and group goals. It is also fun to play and generates excellent group discussion. Players have not only different projects, but also different goals (some are seeking leisure; others environmental outcomes, others wealth – five different goals in all) and this creates a dynamic of conflicting priorities. Half way through the game there is a pause to review what is happening in the ‘State of the World’ – and this is when changes begin to happen. In our game the economy was booming but the environment and society were in a terrible state. Recognition of this led participants to reassess their own goals and change the way in which they played so that social and environmental health could prosper in addition to the economy. One player who had already achieved her personal goal turned into a kind of philanthrocapitalist, giving resources to other players to fund projects.
This card game is one example out of many creative initiatives seeking to engage large numbers of people from all walks of life and from all parts of the world in the deeper challenges that the SDGs represent. Another initiative is the educational tools developed by Gaia Education to train people who will then become facilitators in organizing workshops involving members of their community in discussion and role play about the SDGs. May East of Gaia Education will be one of the speakers at the World Goodwill Seminar at the UN in Geneva in November. See https://gaiaeducation.org/face-to-face/sdg-training/