I'm An Agricultural Worker, Get Me Out Of Here - a game for SOAS
- IAAWGMOOH overview:
- "A game for SOAS about rural workers in Africa"
- 8-30 players
- 50 mins
- 18+ yrs
The School of African & Oriental Studies (SOAS) wanted a classroom game that would help students get to grips with the complex relationship between fair trade initiatives and how these affect the actual workers in rural settings.
You will need: Lots of paperclips; A pen per player
The full game has several sheets of preparation and guidance for the teacher, as well as a number of different profile sheets, one for each student, to help them identify better and form an emotional attachment to the simulation.
"Participants may well attempt to improvise and try something outside the scope of these guidelines. This is a good thing however and it's desirable to try and allow the other players to react to anything new and unplanned first before you as the Facilitator interfere. In most cases, players will prove very flexible in adjusting to new situations without any need for explicit intervention."
SOAS asked us to construct a game that would ease undergraduate and MA students into the subject of the more complex effects of fair trade incentives on very poor, agricultural workers. This is a classic example of how a large, confusing topic (the four-year study runs to over 200 pages) can, with the right approach, be broken down by isolating the main components and figuring out how they inter-relate.
The basic set-up is this: students are all handed out a profile sheet. Two students are producers (one large, one small) and the rest are workers with differing levels of responsibilities and privileges. The producers then give a work offering - stating how many places they have available and how much they pay. Workers decide where they want to work and then if selected have one minute to make as many 'paperclip squares' as possible. The teacher sets the initial price-per-square so that the producers get paid by the market, the workers get paid for their labour and then the workers have to pay to cover various overheads like food, sending children to school etc.
Once the basic economy is established, the teacher has various tools with which they can interfere with the market, one of which is to introduce a fair trade scheme. Producers and workers can then reflect from round-to-round and after the game compare their starting and finishing positions and decide what, if anything, made life easier for them.
The game is designed to be played in a single lesson, with follow-up notes and further talking/action points. It has been played by undergraduate and MA students alike, all of whom reported that it was a very "real" way of getting straight into the subject and helped them explore further.