Code 4

Context

After completing research into its organizational operations, the Dutch Tax Administration identified a number of aspects on which they could improve. Dissatisfied with traditional organizational change methods, the Tax Administration was interested in exploring the effects a game might have.

A player engaged with the trading game at her desk

A player engaged with the trading game at her desk

Brief

We were tasked with design and production of a large scale game for organizational change. The game had to address all uncovered issues from the aforementioned research. From the outset, the Tax Administration was interested in having the game play across various media, in the hopes of creating a 360-degree experience. The goal was to create the feeling of a custom one-off pervasive game with accompanying live events, but producing it in such a way that the final result could be repeated at will. The game of course needed to be highly enjoyable and engaging as well.

Players confronted by an actor in a roleplaying encounter

Players confronted by an actor in a roleplaying encounter

Process

We set out to design and produce the game in a highly iterative fashion, delivering a playable version roughly every two-to-three weeks. Initial designs were produced in paper to test the gameplay of the trading game that would function as Code 4’s backbone. In later stages, we transitioned into software prototypes to test the game in studio. Finally, we added story elements, roleplaying encounters facilitated by actors and coaching sessions to assist players with the translation of in-game experiences to the work environment. Once all the elements were in place we ran a full-blown pilot game followed by a final redesign phase to address any oversights. We also trained Tax Administration personnel and created comprehensive documentation so that the game can now be run by the client independent from us.

Players planning their next move

Players planning their next move

Outcome

Code 4 is a large-scale game that runs over the course of three weeks. It is played by four teams of twelve employees. Players volunteer but teams are made up out of people from across the organizational chart. The game is set in a grim near-future setting where the economy has stalled due to a liquidity crisis. Players are recruited by a special group within the Tax Administration tasked with the collection of taxes in goods, and the subsequent distribution of these goods to public organizations in need. By monitoring a news feed, players can anticipate changes in supply and demand of goods, thus optimizing their performance. At the same time, players are confronted with an internal power struggle over the control of Code 4 and must determine their own position within this open field.

We ran pre– and post-game surveys, and observed player behavior during play with assistance from a puppet master, actors and coaches (all data was made anonymous, of course) and were able to determine that 80% of the players received an actual learning experience. In addition, 30% of the players reached the level of ‘double-loop learning’. These players not only asked themselves if they were doing things correctly, but also if they were doing the correct things. A lot of players were able to transfer their learning experience to an ‘out-of-game cultural change’. Also, player immersion significantly exceeded client expectations.

If your organization would like to bring about change using a game, get in touch.

Player receiving surplus goods

Players receiving surplus goods