About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Developing a board game for Innovation Policymakers

On a sunny Friday morning in April, a group of 26 South East Asian policymakers, brought together for a capacity building programme, are playing a game. More precisely, they are testing the first prototype of a tailored innovation policy-themed board game, jointly developed by Nesta and Digital Liberties.

This idea of developing a game for policymakers working on the design and implementation of innovation policy has grown over the last few months, from writing a prediction about simulation becoming a mainstream innovation method, to publishing a set of eight really interesting examples of simulation being used in the policymaking process.

Why are we developing a game?

The fact that a few of my colleagues and myself are real board game enthusiasts is not the only reason behind this project (though it greatly helped). We have spent some time thinking about the value of using games, coming across inspiring examples like ₹ubbish!, IMPACT or Datopolis.

Games achieve a great many things. First of all, they help players develop an understanding of different perspectives, because they sometimes integrate elements of role playing, or require players to really understand the strategy of their opponents or team members. Games also provide a certain distance from the real world, allowing players to experiment with different strategies, where the costs of failure are low (unless they are very sore losers). Finally, games are fun and engaging, and as such can be the perfect medium to carry a set of lessons or messages.

Playing the Game

What have we done so far?

For the last three months, we have been working with Digital Liberties, a cooperative of game makers, designers and policy analysts to develop an innovation policy-themed board game building the capacity of innovation policymakers to create better and more efficient policies. We want this game to enable players to explore the complexity of innovation systems, to help demystify failure and to highlight the necessity of collaboration in policymaking.

A key part of this process has been developing prototypes at different levels of fidelity. On the 27th April, we organised the first public test of the game, with a cohort of South East Asian participants to the Global Innovation Policy Accelerator, a collaborative development programme for senior innovation policymakers. We gathered a wealth of excellent feedback on the theme, the narrative and the mechanics of the game, which we have been incorporating into a new prototype over the last few weeks.

We are very excited to be testing the revised version of the Innovation Policy game (and we are still looking for a good title…) on the 14th June at the global IGL2018 conference in Boston.

Stay tuned for more on this very soon! In the meantime, if you are interested, and would like to know more, please contact Florence Engasser at [email protected].


Florence Engasser

Florence Engasser

Florence Engasser

Senior Foresight Analyst

Florence was a senior foresight analyst within Nesta’s Discovery Hub, which aims to create a link between Nesta’s current portfolio and our pipeline of future work.

View profile