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SXSW 2012: Fixing Broke(n) Government Through Serious Games


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This presentation describes how we produced a serious of games that enabled the citizens of San José, CA to directly prioritize key budget issues in a way that allowed their elected officials to act on the results.

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SXSW 2012: Fixing Broke(n) Government Through Serious Games

  1. Fixing Broke(n) Governments Through Serious Games Luke Hohmann Founder and CEO The Innovation Games® Company Twitter: #innovgames
  2. What I promised In My Session Description• What is the latest in serious games and what kinds of public problems are they solving?• Why are games a particularly good tool for budgeting? What leverage do they offer over other alternative budgeting approaches like deliberative democracy, participatory budgeting, or majority voting through polls?• How can serious budget games be scaled up? What are the challenges we face in expanding play to thousands or millions?• How do we interpret the results of budget games and how can elected officials act on these results?• How do we measure the impact of budget games? What are their long term effects on civic engagement and the financial sustainability of communities?
  3. Can these citizens…
  4. Fix this crisis? And restore these dreams?
  5. Through Games?
  6. Games Solve Problems Through PlayJane McGonigal “Games have four elements…” Arbitrary Constraints Voluntary Participation Interaction Rules 6
  7. Serious Games are Designed To Solve “Serious” Problems• Advergames: Get you to buy stuff.• Edutainment: Get you to learn stuff and have fun.• Newsgames: Journalistic games motivated by current events.• Simulations: Learn / explore.• Exergaming: Get to you to be healthy.• Innovation Games®: Serious games for strategy, market research, portfolio mgmt. And even more…
  8. What Are Innovation Games®Innovation Games® are purpose-drivengames that solve a wide range of productstrategy and management problemsacross the market lifecycle.They are played:•with customers & internal stakeholders•In small groups of 5 to 8 people•online or in-person•in single or multi-game formats Some of our many games..
  9. Market Insights Prioritize Prioritize Features Project Determine Portfolios Strategic Account Manage Priorities NPD Strategic Roadmaps Strategic Planning Identify Product Enhancements Determine Product Prioritize Epics InteractionsUsed andEndorsed By: 9
  10. What was the “real” problem? Find w Prioriti ays to… zation - Raise Determ taxes ine vote - Cut p prioriti r rogram es on k- Increa s issues a ey se nd actefficien on them cy .
  11. Prioritization Games20/20 VisionPrioritize desiredbenefits, values, goals. Prune the Product Tree Develop great roadmaps. Buy a Feature Use a virtual market to prioritize features, projects, items.
  12. • 12 to 20 items described in terms of benefits and costs • 5 to 8 players given limited budget and buy what they want 1. …Buy a Feature 2. 3. … … 4. … The reasonsProduces these A list of items behind the ranking. Results ranked by your players. Feedback that shapes and improves the items.
  13. Creating Budget Games From Buy a Feature To get money to fund a Proposal… Citizens must reach unanimous agreement on reduction proposals or new taxes.Click on the images to link to PDFs of these documents. 13
  14. 2011: Proposals FundedProposals Funded: By Table Table Table TableTable Table TableTable Table Table Table Table Table # %(total 12 tables) A B C D E F G H I J K LAnti-graffiti 9 75% 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1Branch Libraries 7 58% 1 1 1 1 1 1 1Childrens Health Initiative 7 58% 1 1 1 1 1 1 1Christmas in the Park 2 17% 1 1Citywide Traffic Safety Services 5 42% 1 1 1 1 1Crossing Guards 1 8% 1General Code Enforcement 10 83% 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1HNVF Community Based Orgs 2 17% 1 1Holiday Parade 1 8% 1Hub Community Centers 7 58% 1 1 1 1 1 1 1MLK Library 3 25% 1 1 1Park Rangers 5 42% 1 1 1 1 1Park Restrooms 6 50% 1 1 1 1 1 1Pavement Maintenance 10 83% 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1Safe Schools Campus Initiative(SSCI) 8 67% 1 1 1 1 1 San José citizens 1 1 1San Jose Best CBOStreetlights 8 7 67% 58% 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 chose1 Pavement 1 1 1 1 1 1 1Strong Neighborhoods Initiative 8 67% 1 1 1 1 Maintence OVER 1 1 1 1 Total : 12 5 9 5 10 6 8 10 9 9 15 8 Libraries. Yes, that’s radical. 14
  15. Producing a Game… Not Always Fun…• Planning our 1st game took 3 months• City staff were very enthusiastic, but it took time and coaching to convert “Reduce police costs by xx% to save $1.2M” to “Eliminate the Police Helicopter Program to save $1.2M”• Play testing was essential• Developing branded money was fun• City provided space
  16. Who Played? San José residents, Neighborhood Associations Leaders and the Youth Commission, carefully balanced across the tables. Subject Matter Experts answered questions.Who Facilitated?More than 35 trainedfacilitators contributed>$125K in pro-bonoservices.
  17. Key Results?• The City made many budget choices in alignment with our games – Reductions in Fire Department staffing – Reductions in Police Department staffing – Delays in libraries and elimination of services – Funding of key proposals• Citizens loved the process
  18. Pushing The Boundaries in 2012 We tested new taxes (“new revenues”) We testedEach table could add “buy one or none”ONE new funding proposalsproposl.
  19. 2012 Results Summary: Cost-Savings and Revenue GenerationReductions/Cost Savings Proposal Amount A B C D E F G H I J K # of Tables % of TablesA. 1/4 cent sales tax $ 36,000,000 1 1 1 1 1 1 6 55%B. Shift TOT Arts Funding to General Fund $ 2,100,000 1 1 9%C. Shift TOT Convention Center Marketing Funding to General Fund $ 2,100,000 1 1 2 18%D. Business Tax Adjustment $ 10,000,000 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 7 64%E. Disposal Facility Tax $ 5,000,000 1 1 1 1 1 5 45%F. Eliminate Compensation and Disability Retirement SystemG. Workers Overtime for Fair Labor Standards Act $ 1,200,000 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 8 73%Reform $ 2,000,000 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 7 64%I. Reduce Staffing in Engine Companies from 4 to 3 $ 16,600,000 1 1 1 3 27%J. Childrens Health Initiative $ 1,000,000 0 0%K. Close Park Restrooms $ 500,000 1 1 9%L. Eliminate Park Ranger Program $ 500,000 0 0%Parcel TaxAA. $100 Parcel Tax $ 32,000,000 1 1 1 1 1 5 45%BB. $200 Parcel Tax $ 64,000,000 1 1 2 18% How many revenue-generating proposals did this table choose? 0 2 2 2 1 1 4 34 3 3Revenue generating proposals are shown in this color.
  20. 2012 Results Summary: Funding Proposals SummaryFunding Proposal Price Purchase Count? Results are sorted based on purchase14. Gang Prevention Efforts10. General Code Enforcement 8 tables funded pavement maintenance. 7 $2,900,000 $500,000 11 109. Restore Park Ranger Program $2,200,000 9 frequency19. Neighborhood & School Traffic Safety1. Hub Community Center through a parcel tax, 1 through the sales tax. $600,000 $900,000 9 82. Satellite & Neighborhood Community Centers $600,000 86. Open Bascom & Seven Trees Libraries $1,600,000 8 8 tables funded7. Open Calabazas & Educational Park Branch Libraries $1,600,000 8 police field patrol.5. MLK Library Services Restoration $500,000 711. Traffic Safety Improvements $1,500,000 73. Branch Library Hours 4-4.5 $1,700,000 68. Open Bascom Community Center $600,000 617. Pavement Maintenance: Maintain FAIR Neighborhood Streets $32,000,000 64. Branch Library Hours 4-5.5 $4,700,000 4 10 tables funded12. Police Field Patrol: 40 positions $7,500,000 4 increasing branch13. Police Field Patrol: 80 positions $15,000,000 4 library hours.15. Temporary Fire Company Closures (Brown-outs) $5,400,000 416. Open South San José Police Substation $2,400,000 418. Pavement Maintenance: Improve from FAIR to GOOD Neighborhood Streets $64,000,000 2Citizen Proposed ProjectsW1. Medical Marijuana Improvement Program $2,500,000 1W2. Bike Lanes/Table Proposal $900,000 1W3. Elementary Public School in Meadowfair $2,000,000 1W4. Boards and Commissions $250,000 1W5. Spartan Keys Alleyways Repair $750,000 1
  21. Analysis / Interpretation of Results Also informed by the review of Facilitator and Observer Comments• Gang prevention and other forms of “non-police” intervention to increase the safety and “livability” of the city were top priorities.• Participants demonstrated a strong desire to increase revenues (raise taxes) to improve pavement conditions.• Tables that enacted the sales tax spent significantly less money on funding proposals than was available, with an average of $12,000,000 of unspent funds. We interpret this as a clear signal that participants favor a prudent and measured approach to budgeting and spending even when a proportionally large sum of money is available.• Participants generated five unique funding proposals that are detailed later in this report.• Participants expressed a strong desire for additional game-based sessions focused on “growing” the City. 21
  22. Why Are Budget GamesBetter Than Budget Puzzles?Dimension Budget Puzzles Budget GamesProducers Goals? Educate the public. Make budget cuts.Players Goals? Explore and learn. Buy what you want.How do you “win”? Balance the budget. N/A – You don’t “win”.Nature of play? Solitary. Collaborative.Impact of choices? None. “Being silly is OK”. Significant. “Being silly is NOT OK”.In-person or online Online. In-person. (Future: online).Biases? A tie. All techniques have inherent bias. See web site for details.
  23. We Have Many Opportunities to Improve• Improve preparation – Distribute proposals in advance – Solicit citizen-proposals in advance• Use more technology – During the event to scale – Provide real-time results• Create more opportunities to continue the conversations 23
  24. Possible Follow-up Innovation Games® Buy A Feature Online Prune theProduct Tree Prune the Product Tree Product Box 24
  25. Prune the Product Tree • Draw a tree. • Add current ideas from your roadmap as leaves and apples. • 5 to 8 stakeholders shape the “growth” of your offering. • Captures very rich information about perceptions of the future, timing of new concepts, balance, and relationships among ideas. Understand theevolution of your offering.
  26. Community Growth Games (In Planning) Prune the Community Buy a Feature Online Product Tree leaders and Will be used to “fund” Online city officials the projects. To identify will shape Citizens will publicly community ideas into commit their time toservice projects. projects. projects. “Funded” projects will receive seed money from the city.
  27. Engaging Millions of Americans• Our platforms work well for business. They need enhancements to work for goverments.• Enrollment and Authentication: Are you a registered voter in the right jurisdiction?• Anonymity: Can you participate in a game in a way that preserves you free speech? (very hard)• Coordinating Massive Numbers of Players: We need improved designs for players, SMEs, facilitators.• Minimizing bias: We need a “wikipedia” for the content within the games to minimize bias.
  28. What About Gamification?
  29. What About Participatory Budgeting?Participatory budgeting is a process of democraticdeliberation and decision-making, and a type ofparticipatory democracy, in which ordinary peopledecide how to allocate part of a municipal or publicbudget. Participatory budgeting allows citizens toidentify, discuss, and prioritize public spendingprojects, and gives them the power to make realdecisions about how money is spent. Thanks, Wikipedia
  30. Can One Company Do This? YES NO • Global network of trained • We’re a bootstrapped facilitators continue to grow startup. We can’t fund all • Proven results in many non- the changes we need on our profit endeavors own and (so far) funding • City leaders are gaining organizations have rejected our proposals trust in us and “games”To improve our chances for success we will becreating a non-profit in 2012 to focus on increasingcivic engagement through games.
  31. San Jose, CA Budget Games
  32. Thank YouFor more information or to get involved:The Innovation Games® Company480 San Antonio Rd. Ste 202Mountain View, CA 94040Luke Hohmannlhohmann@innovationgames.comSocial media? lukehohmann#innovgames Innovation Through Understanding®
  33. Why Innovation Games®?• Game playing gives “permission” to be fully creative• Innovation Games® utilize multiple forms of intelligence (verbal, visual, strategic) thereby providing greater volumes of information• Collaborative behavior & shared goals are fun• Some games provide wonderful player artwork that help spur the larger organization to action• Collaborative play != consensus