First of all let me introduce myself: I’m Magnus Persson, lead game designer of the Switching the Current megagame. Together with a team of eight researchers, I’m in charge of designing a megagame that allows players to gain insight into how the transition of the energy system into a sustainable one may play out over the next few decades. The reason we do this in game form is that we believe it will give players a chance to see things from a different perspective than they normally do and so, in the words of Claude Garcia, instead of “negotiating about the world [they] want, but about what’s available”, help them “understand the issues faced by other players”. We do this in the hope that the people playing will see things differently and make wiser and better-informed decisions afterwards.
I’ve done this kind of thing once before – together with Ola Leifler and Ola Uhrqvist at Linköping University, I was the lead designer of Climate Change Megagame (CCM) which premiered on November 21, 2021. In CCM, players attempt to transform the county of Östergötland in eastern Sweden in order to achieve a sustainable, carbon-neutral society in 2050. It was my first megagame and I learned a lot about game design, which you can read about in the journal article we published in Forum för Utomhuspedadgogik (Citizen’s views on climate-change adaptation) and also the three blog posts we wrote for PAXsims (Building a climate change megagame). However, the most important lesson was that after we had concluded the design phase of the game, it was very, very difficult to remember the thoughts that guided me during the various steps on the way towards a playable game, and thus to reflect on the choices I had made based on the information I had at the time rather than assessing the same choices with the final result before my eyes. Although the latter may be preferable in some cases, I’m more interested in getting insight into what the design process looks like from the game designer’s perspective while they are in the ‘midst of the fray’, and I’m guessing I’m not the only one.
This blog will thus work as a research journal that will allow me to reflect both on my thoughts and ideas during the game design process and on how and why I made the choices I made after the design process is concluded. It will also let my fellow researchers and stakeholders in the Switching the Current project keep up to date with what I’m currently working on and open up for to them contribute to the game design process with their expertise. Last but not least, it will provide insight into the process of designing a megagame to other game designers – or anyone interested in learning more about the considerations that occupy the mind of megagame designer and giving some insight into the choices I’m faced with and understand the reasons behind the decisions I make. Regardless of your interest in my blog, I hope you enjoy it and learn something from reading it!
The next blog post (and likely the one after that as well) will be on how to come up with and choose between different avenues of game design, and also about how to apply what Jim Wallman says about megagame design to the design of the Switching the Current megagame.
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Before writing this first blog post, I did some research: I recommend reading Janet Salomons’s very insightful post Share Your Research on a Blog to define the purpose of your blog (I believe mine to be a combination of solo/researcher-to-public and collaborative/researcher-to-researcher, but I may be wrong). Mark Carrigan’s insightful Prezi Using your blog as a research journal gave a lot of food for thought on what to do with my blog and how to do it, and Duncan Green’s An antidote to futility: Why academics (and students) should take blogging/social media seriously gave me support that this approach is the right one and also to keep my posts rather short, for the sake of both myself and my readers.