Playing for Social and Ecological Value

Here at Seriously Learned, a lot of new development work has been going on over springtime – and this will be reflected in a website product update soon! Now a member of ANTZ Network, Seriously Learned is committed to supporting organisations in the discovery of their social value potential, with a range of new game-based training opportunities in collaboration, social valuation and diversity to support this.

The other development I’ve been working on is a comprehensive overhaul of suitable games for developing awareness and practice for ecological sustainability. This is a burgeoning area in scientific communication, so there are lots of new opportunities to review your resource use and develop more sustainable practice through play!

How can we play for value?

When we play games, those games introduce us to different models of what is valuable, along with rules of behaviour regarding how such value is distributed or produced. Something as simple as a board game can communicate who can take resources and when, and in playing we learn how far these mechanics can be trusted when other players develop different strategies to compete. Games encode value in their core mechanics, and through a repetitive ‘loop’ of behaviour (e.g your ‘turn’) different actions can be more or less effective in ‘winning’ – achieving the game outcome.

This ‘gaming loop’ is what attracts us to gameplay, as it corresponds closely with our neuro-psychological learning loops. Playing the game successfully according to its values makes us feel good. So games that introduce different values are a great way of considering how we can still enjoy success through different patterns of behaviour.

In this way, we can use games as a starting point to reflect on which of our behaviours matter to achieving value, and what kinds of value. For example, many social minority groups face a penalty in the workplace because their behaviours don’t fit in with expectations, and as human beings we are programmed to see difference as a possible threat as well as a possible advantage. This is at the root of unconscious bias. But we can train ourselves to be more accepting of diversity and to recognise its value through acknowledgment of characteristics that do and don’t matter!

When we know what behaviours do and do not matter, we can embrace alternative innovations and practices, both social and ecological!