London, the final frontier

The Space Game

Royal Festival HallPortia and I have been working on a Real Options game, with the help of Vera. Last Friday, we held our first tryout.

We set up shop in the friendly environment of the Royal Festival Hall with our game props: a galaxy game board, space ships, planets, sweets, maps, stories, news items, stuff to play with… The usual motly, colourful items that signal to participants that this is safe, ‘just’ a game.

Portia told the story behind the game: participants had to fulfill a mission to preserve peace across the galaxy. We explained some of the rules. Participants had to ask us more questions to discover what this simulation was all about.

We played the game in several rounds. In each round, the teams had to plan their move and then execute their chosen move on the game board. Along the way we introduced real options concepts. The players were really ‘in’ the game, fully absorbed. Near the end, they discovered an important concept.

I can’t tell you what, you’ll have to play the game yourself!

After the game, we held a retrospective with the players. This was the most important part of the evening for us, because the first rule of game and session development is:

Space shipsTryout, feedback, improve, repeat

If you want to create a great game, session or performance, iteration is essential. You gather your ideas, create a structure, bring in all the props… and then the real work begins. You get valuable feedback from the participants and by observing, you improve the game. And then you do it again. And each time the performance improves.

Yes, release often, iteration, feedback and simplicity are useful for game design too.

And courage… We were a bit nervous. Would the game work? Would the concepts be clear? Would the participants like it? The participants did have fun and learned something. We learned a lot. There’s a lot to improve.

Come out and play

If you want to have fun and learn more about real options you can play the game at Agile North on 26th of April and at XP Days France on 5-6 May. See you there!

A big T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U to David, Daniel, Maria, Sharmila, Matt, Chris and Henry for being such great players and for the excellent feedback.

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