A 'budget', with income and expenditure… It’s an abstract concept for most people.
To create a budget, members of parliament debate and juggle difficult concepts, complicated tables and amounts. It is here politicians make explicit choices for the policy of the coming year, deciding where (tax) money is spent on. As part of the citizen education program; ‘Centenspel’ is an edugame that teaches the consequences of political choices to a young audience.
Centenspel is an initiative by De Kracht van je Stem. The underlying calculations of the measures and their effect on employment, the environment, budget and popularity were carried out by the research group Policy Management at Hasselt University. Together with our mates at Studio Hyperdrive, we jumped at the opportunity to conceptualise, design & build this gem!
the unlikely hero
As Centenspel is targeted at young students in Flanders, we chose to introduce a fun and light-hearted story setup. At the start of the game, a series of newspaper headlines place the player at the heart of the story. You are a young inexperienced new political candidate with fresh ideas, willing to take an enthusiastic swing at the ‘minister of finance’ position. Against all odds, the people actually begin to rally behind this unlikely hero, resulting in a shock result that headlines around the world.
By embracing the players age and lack of experience, we effectively lower their threshold to connect to a context that may otherwise seem too complex and daunting. To further increase personalisation we introduced an extensive character builder, allowing players to create an avatar in their own image… Or just go absolutely crazy!
learning the ropes
A young buck. Wildly inexperienced. Placed in charge of the countries budget. What could go wrong?
Quite a lot to be honest. At this level, the stakes are high and every choice matters. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. So we give the player a hand. Upon arrival at the new office, ‘The Advisor’ is introduced. This helpful character is here to make sure you’re off to a good start by showing you around, teaching core functionalities and UI.
This is your Alfred, Batman. In the end it’s up to you to save the day, but a little help never hurt. Right?
finding your flow
Ready for your first day? To create a budget, you must first choose 3 policy priorities, these will be your term focus points. Performing well within these domains will pay off immensely in your end score. All done? Now it’s time to select a range of measures. Each measure has an impact on the 4 key game parameters (Popularity, Budget, Employment and Environment). Keeping these parameters balanced is absolutely key to getting your budget approved in parliament.
Budget completed and signed? The parliament will now vote their decision. Through an animated diagram the ‘for’ and ‘against’ votes are counted and visualised live in front of you. Rejected budgets will require some fine-tuning. Better hurry though, the pressure on your position will build, as people will begin to think your election was perhaps a big mistake after all…
Your proposal is approved? Well done! You are now ready to move on to business. As ‘minister of finance’ each day will bring a fresh batch of dilemma’s that require your immediate attention. Through a series of increasingly challenging objectives you will learn to balance decisions. It’s not always going to be easy, but you must do what it takes to please both parliament and the people.
Good luck minister, the country is counting on you!