Shortly after the spring arrived in the Carpartian mountain valley of Busteni we had our first partner meeting in Romania. In less than three weeks our evaluation team filtered out and summarized the main results of the Try Out in Berlin where we had the first application of the European script draft version of the game.
The impressive mountain-panorama of the little town of Busteni welcomed us with a typical spring weather changing between sun and rain. In the old hiking hut “Gura Diham” which has been expanded into a touristical complex with conference-facilities.
After the participants arrived on 10th of April we started with our program next morning. The Romanian team presented the main results of the evaluation from the Try Out in Berlin. First of all we were a bit relieved that the critics and feedback have been positive from an overall perspective. The methods used for preparation have been quoted mainly good, but the preparation of participants to step into their characters-roles should be improved. Especially the time-management was problematic and we have to improve this. The scripts of the game are the main tools for the players to prepare themselves for the game. The evaluators found out, that the scripts are of good quality from an overall perspective. But there were some inconsistencies and errors in them, that have to be reworked. The design was nice from a general viewpoint, but some scripts should be enhanced with more layout, pictures and symbols. Some of the “stations” of the game got as well critics, because they were too difficult or some as well too boring or unclear.
As well the players said, that they would like to have a more clear cognitive-process during the play of the game. One of the biggest tasks for the rework of the game is the concept of the facilitators concerning interventions in the game. During the Try Out we did not intervene, because we did not want to disturb the flow of the game and manipulate the results with this. But now we have to develop a clear concept and rules for the facilitators. As well the concept of socio-economical-status of the characters and the time-management has to be reworked. The evaluation as well showed a result, that we already envisaged: the debriefing concept and methods after the game have been partly too inconsistent and some are not ready worked out.
After the presentation of the evaluation we had a discussion about the complexity of the game and the tasks of the players. Some gave the feedback, that they felt over-allocated and lost during the game. On the one side this was our aim, to show the people the complexity and as well put them in the feeling of losing control and feeling lost, but on the other hand it is a game and people should not step out of their role, because they feel frustrated and over-challenged.
Another big issue for discussion was to create more clear connections between the different roles and the procedures at the different stations in the game. Some connections have been established too unclear or vague, so that the players could not use them or see them. As well the players demanded to get a more clear overview of the game – but this is counter-productive to the idea to make people feel lost… Finally we came to the conclusion, that a careful adjustment should be made and we will see during the next implementation at the Tutor Training in September if it works out that way.
After looking again to our objectives and the target-groups and compare it with the results we got from the Try Out we went to group-work phase and filtered out some main aspects for the rework of the game.
Another big issue at this partner-meeting was the discussion about the concept of the Tutor Training. We decided about the target group and the general way how the training should be implemented. Some of the players from the last time are interested to become tutors, but we will search for additional participants. In order to make another implementation possible we need as well new players that should be interested to become tutors later on as well, if possible.
The last discussion round was dominated by the task-distribution and time-planning for the next months. We reworked our timeline for the project in some points. Especially the development of the national versions will get more time now, because of the delay of 2 months that we have until now. But this is no problem for the general project, because we planned some time-buffers in our schedule, that we can use now.
The rework of the European version is still ambitious, because the deadline is already beginning of June. The summer holidays and the nearby Tutor Training are forcing us to be quick. Sadly we did not have a lot of time to see the beautiful mountains around our conference hall, but some lucky ones among us visited them before and afterwards.