Saturday, September 4, 2010

MP for a Week: Serious Games Helping 11-14 Year Olds Develop Political Literacy

Serious Games to experience the daily life of a politician at the House of Commons


Via: UK Parliament Education ServiceSerious Games Giving Young People A Chance To Step Into The Shoes Of A Backbench MP

MP for a Week is an educational game launched earlier this year by the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, through the UK Parliament Education Service website.

UK Parliament Education Service website


Houses of History Timeline

On the same website, you can travel through time with this playful, animated and interactive timeline. Houses of History tells the story of the Westminster Parliament. You can track the shift in power from the monarch to the people, see the emergence of universal suffrage and explore the amazing history of the Palace of Westminster.

MP for a Week lets you experience the daily life of a backbench politician hour by hour and task by task, armed with a smartphone (the phone at the bottom right of the screen is your gateway to all activities in the game).


Answer questions from your constituents and fellow members, decide on new laws, deal with the Press, compose Parliamentary speeches, attend meetings and events and much more.

Everything you do determines your approval rating with your party, voters and the media, with a “daily survival report” keeping you informed of your progress. Your aim in the game is to get to the end of the week without your party or voter support dropping too low.

Although MP for a Week is aimed at students aged between 11 and 14, anyone can play and there are three difficulty levels to choose from.


The game features video advice from 12 MPs from various parties, as well as exclusive footage from the House of Commons, to give you a feel for what it's like to walk the “corridors of power”.

Relevant Gameplay
 
The beating heart of MP for a Week is relevant gameplay. To win, you have to apply good judgment in communication and time management.
 
You start by picking your affiliation (opposition or government), gender, interests and constituency. These last two genuinely impact on the decisions you make as a backbencher, especially if you choose to live in Northern Island or Scotland, because of the great travelling distance involved.
 

The game uses rarely seen footage of the House of Commons giving players a real feel for what it's like to walk the corridors of power. Several MPs from a variety of political parties were interviewed to provide advice to users and help steer them through the various political dilemmas they face in a very busy parliamentary week
 
Time management is a big part of being an MP. MP for a Week deals with this mechanic elegantly, through the constantly ringing smartphone in the corner of your screen. This is where you deal with messages from constituents, meetings and reports, as well as menacing messages from the party whip, reminding you to vote with the party on legislation.
 
Most of the game is about communication – speeches in the Commons, letters to constituents, responding to media queries. You do all these things with a simple drag-and-choose interface. It’s simple but it gives you a fair amount of flexibility, and it seems just right for the purpose of the game.
 
Juggling all this is harder than it sounds, because in every decision you have to make sure you’re satisfying all the stakeholders. Of course, you can’t please everyone all the time, so the game quickly turns into a balancing act of trade-offs. This is where you get to make all sorts of interesting decisions – and that’s what good gameplay is all about.