What are the main topics and actors to take into account? Are there any specific emerging challenges or phenomena you would like to explore? This can include topics broader than just the political context, for example, the risk of disinformation on social media, climate change-related issues, or generational differences. Next, identify the critical actors that you would like to weave into the game. For instance, the governing party, opposition parties, civil society, and third countries.
If you are entirely new to the futures space, start with some preparatory research and a quick scan of emerging trends and drivers of change in your specific country or region.
Consult think tanks, research institutes, government websites, and UNGP’s Horizon Scan Manual for more information. To map out basic future scenarios use the 2 x 2 scenario or the 3 alternative futures methods.
What do you want to achieve through this game? Are you trying to support particular outcomes? Avoid particular crises? Are there policies or strategies this exercise needs to feed into? Are there particular constraints that you need to be aware of?
Think of tying your goals to related activities you are already engaged in – whether reports, response plans, other foresight efforts, etc.
Running the game once will provide you with valuable insight, but it might not be enough to cover everything. Running the game multiple times and engaging different participants (who may represent diverse stakeholders), will result in an even deeper exploration and allow you to compare and contrast the results.
With whom to play? This game is highly accessible and can be played with experts and non-experts, youth and elders, politicians, NGOs, academics, companies, and more.
Consider doing a quick stakeholder analysis to include the most relevant participants. You can run different sessions for each type of stakeholder or invite a mixture of stakeholders to each session – this is up to you.
Which future times to explore? The game consists of three rounds, each reflecting a different period of time in the future. Choose the time horizons based on your specific election context. Avoid setting the first round in the present, as participants might default to providing safe or obvious answers.
Example 1: zoomed-in to one specific election
Example 2: zoomed-out to the next 10 years
What is happening in the future? For each of the three chosen time horizons, create a context card. Context cards are used as scene-setters when introducing each round, to help participants situate themselves in the future scenario.
Select three to five items of context per round. For inspiration, consult the preparation guide.
• Envision the cards as fictional mini-scenarios: they don’t have to be true, but should be realistic and probable.
• Include different elements such as the social, environmental, and economic situation, to help participants think about the context’s impact.
• Make the context specific to your location; add some local details.
What do you want to know? Define your questions. In each round, every team will answer one question and then answer a follow-up question related to a different group’s answer. Effective questions will help the participants focus on the topics and phenomena most relevant to the organisers.
Depending on the number of participants, you will need to prepare 3 or 4 questions and 3 or 4 follow-up questions per round (9 to 12 in total). For inspiration, consult the preparation guide.
• Keep the goal of your exercise in mind and focus on the phenomena you would like to explore (tensions around certain political actors or within society, trends in civic space, etc.)
• Questions should be open-ended and invite participants to add their own ideas.
• Good questions have some degree of specificity.
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