Statecraft X

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1. The game

Statecraft X™ is an online multiplayer game for the Apple iPhone and web platforms. In the game, players take on the roles of governors in the fantasy kingdom of Velar. The narrative premise for the game is that the king of Velar has just passed away, leaving no heir, thus setting up the stage for four political factions, each led by a team of players, to compete for leadership of the kingdom. Up to twenty players can play the game, divided into four teams of up to five players each. Each player starts out governing a single town, and can attempt to assume leadership of other towns, with the ultimate aim of assuming leadership of the kingdom’s capital city, and thus the kingdom itself.While they do this, they must skillfully manage their towns’ economies, build up defences against aggressors both within the kingdom and without, forge diplomatic ties, and most importantly gain the trust of the people they govern, comprise of dwarfs, elves, humans and trolls. Players within a faction share a common pool of money: this means that players need to coordinate their spending with their fellow faction members to ensure their faction’s success.

The game is played throughout the day; players can log into the game at any time to monitor the state of the game-world, and to take actions in it. Access to the game can be restricted to particular time-periods; for example, access to the game can be blocked during school hours.

The game does not end when one faction manages to assume leadership of the kingdom’s capital city. Instead, the faction with the highest score at the end of the game session (which can run over a period of one week to one month) will be declare the winner of that particular game session. Faction scores are calculated according to three factors: the total population of all the towns ruled by the faction, the average happiness of all people in those towns, and the average level of trust that the people have in the faction. These scores are announced at the end of every day on the game’s web portal.

2. Learning activities

The learning activities in the Statecraft X™ learning programme situate students in a fictional kingdom called Bellalonia, where they are also placed in the roles of governors. In this space, they reflect on their game play actions in Velar, and consider how their governing practices in Velar as well as their knowledge about the real world could contribute to their roles as fictional governors in Bellalonia.The back-story of Bellalonia is that its king has passed away, leaving the young Prince Junio as the sole heir. In order to prevent chaos in the kingdom, the Grand Sage of Bellalonia has proposed that the governors of the kingdom undergo various challenges set forth to them so she can propose a group of governors to help Prince Junio rule the kingdom until he comes of age. These challenges take place in the virtual world of Velar.

The learning activities include group discussions, facilitated by the Grand Sage of Bellalonia (who is role-played by a teacher/facilitator), and by writing blog entries as well as participating in online discussions in a forum. The latter two activities are conducted on a web-portal, which also provides a space for students to be informed of activities happening in both Velar and Bellalonia.

At the end of the programme, the students, role-playing as governors of Bellalonia, give a speech in a grand audience (consisting of the other governors as well as the Grand Sage) to persuage the Grand Sage why they are the best candidates to help Prince Junio rule Bellalonia. This serves to demonstrate their knowledge of the principles of governance as well.

The overall learning programme is based on a Play-between-Worlds curriculum model, where students learn by “moving” from one world to another, and also by reflecting on their experience in three worlds: game, fictional, and real.

3. Publications

Click here to see a list of publications based on this learning programme.