PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


Future Interactions
A serious board game for future technology assessment

Steven Flipse  

Technology Assessment allows new technologies and innovations to be discussed by stakeholders from various domains (e.g. public, policy, science), usually in dialogue workshops with pre-determined future scenarios. This paper presents an evaluation study of a novel, enjoyable Technology Assessment (TA) tool in which (by contrast) we aimed to design a physical serious board game called 'Future Interactions,' in which scenarios are first built and subsequently discussed by participants. In the physical game, stakeholders from various domains discuss values, opportunities and implications of future innovation during an afternoon session. Participants select sets of hexagonal 'play cards' from three stacks: technologies, areas of application, and societal values / issues. Participants can expand the existing set of cards on available empty play cards. By placing their unique set of connected cards in a beehive-shaped grid, participants present future technologies and discuss how these could interact with society. We tested the game in three subsequent sessions: with students, to test the functionality of the tool; with technology and policy experts to see if discussions about future innovations occur; with experts only from the field of biotechnology, to see if the tool can be used to generate dialogue on a specific topic. Results show that in all sessions, the future interactions of values, interfaces and technologies helped groups to create tangible common ground for a shared future vision of the development and implementation of innovations. The enjoyable story-telling approach of the participants helped to generate interesting discussions, relevant to all stakeholders, while all field experts allowed the discussion to remain realistic. The game may have value in bringing together public stakeholders, scientists, policy makers and other non-governmental stakeholders in formal and informal settings, e.g. in public participation and engagement efforts, science policy agenda setting, and science cafes. We aim to further explore these possibilities.

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