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Game Play


Playing to “Win”

This game is designed to have quick, strategic responses to very difficult and often triggering situations. It was purposefully designed in timed, competitive rounds and to be carried out in a light, swift way to encourage debate and discussion with a degree of distance. A gaming Scenario generates adrenalin and expectation around escalations, both a part of the online GBV experience. An atmosphere of game competition is one way to bring in these elements when strategising.

However, it is important to note that some groups are not comfortable with competition or able to assert that one Survivor Team strategy was better than the other presented, so using tokens as points and declaring a “winner” in your game is entirely optional. The Game Facilitator should decide if they want to introduce competition and tokens before beginning the role-play.

If using tokens, each member of the Public should receive four tokens (in the form of cut-up colored papers, poker chips, individually wrapped candies, stickers, etc.) at the beginning of game play. Each member of the Public will award one token per round to the Survivor Team whose strategy best fit the Survivor profile and context. At the end of three rounds the Public debates; if there is consensus, five extra points can be awarded to the Survivor who has chosen the best overall set of strategies. The total number of tokens will determine which Survivor Team “won” the scenario. The round ends when the Public provides closure to the Scenario with a plausible conclusion.

Facilitation note: When inviting people to play, the Game Facilitator should have alerted possible participants that this role-play will be talking about gender-based violence on the internet and distressing subject matter will come up, in case anyone wants to opt out beforehand. The Facilitator should remind participants of this before starting the game and encourage all participants to be sensitive to each other in the role-play process.

Game Setup – 15 minutes

Game Facilitators must be familiar with the following game instructions and make sure teams understand their roles.

Get the game started by forming Survivor Teams A and B and the Public.

  • It may be better if the volunteer Survivor has not experienced online GBV themselves.
  • There are four types of advisors: Legal, Communications, Solidarity and Skills. The Advisors do not have to be specialists in the area assigned to them (ie legal advisors do not have to be lawyers).
  • The Survivor Teams decide who plays what role in the team. That role will last until Scenario rounds are played out. If there are fewer people in the game, Advisors may have to play the role of two advisors.

Give each Survivor Team flipchart paper, markers and the Survivor and Advisor Instructions.

  • Their first task is to develop the Survivor profile and context and draw that persona on flipchart paper.
  • Remind them they don’t have to think up a scenario, just information about the Survivor:
    • How old are they?
    • Do they live in a rural or urban area?
    • What are their family, friend and work communities like?
    • Their sexuality, religion, language?
    • Their education level, tech skills?
  • Teams have only 5-10 minutes to draw up their Survivor profile.

While Survivor Teams do this, the Game Facilitator gives the Public their instruction cards and briefs them on their role:

  • Encourage the Public to think about who is in their midst – are they friends, family, trolls, bystanders,representatives?
  • How might bystanders affect the way the Scenario evolves?
  • Members of the Public can decide to take on a specific role and react to the Survivor Teams as that role (ie conservative family member, best friend, troll), or as themselves.

The Game Facilitator or Public may choose a Scenario for the game. The available Scenarios are

  • Blackmailed to Go Back
  • Trolled on Twitter
  • Faked on Facebook
  • Porn Pretender
  • Disinformation to Discredit
  • Watching and Waiting

Each Scenario has its own Challenge cards. Alternatively, the Game Facilitator or Public can create one based on their context.

TIP: If creating your own Scenario, keep in mind the Scenario should start at the point that the Survivor is concerned about what is happening, but not already facing a full-blown attack.

Round 1 – 20 minutes

  1. Survivors present their personas to the Public.
  2. The Game Facilitator reads the Scenario out loud.
  3. In their Survivor Teams, each Advisor has 2 minutes to pick one strategy from their deck to recommend to the Survivor. Multi-step strategies are not allowed. Show one option to your team’s Survivor and justify why you think it is a good choice.
  4. Each Team then has five minutes to discuss the available strategies and help the Survivor make a decision, based on the best option for their Survivor profile.
    1. The role of the Advisors here is not to get their strategy picked, but for their team to get support from the Public with a persuasive presentation of the strategy chosen by the Survivor.
    2. Survivors can only pick one strategy at a time, and it is their decision, not the Advisors’.
  5. While the Survivor Teams discuss for no more than 8-10 minutes, the Public should also be discussing the Scenario and what strategy they think the teams should take. The Public begins to imagine possible ways the Scenario will escalate, and examines Challenge cards.
  6. Each Survivor presents their first strategy to the Public, arguing why it is the best option for their profile. The Public can ask questions but each Team has a maximum of 5 minutes presentation time.
  7. The Public provides feedback on the choices. If using tokens, each member of the Public votes, explaining their choice.

Throughout, the Game Facilitator keeps time and tries to keep a fun, light atmosphere as the scenarios and challenges explored in this game could be upsetting for participants if explored too deeply.

Round 2 – 20 minutes

  1. The Public selects and presents the first Challenge.
  2. Survivor Teams proceed the same as Round 1.

Round 3 – 20 minutes

  1. For the Survivor Teams, same as Round 2.
  2. While the Survivor Teams debate, the Public is asked to come up with a closure to the Scenario. What kind of solution do they foresee as plausible, what strategies would they add? The Game Facilitator, while not encouraging a “happy ending” does ask the Public to look for feasible, and if possible positive solutions to this escalating violence.
  3. Survivors present their strategies.
  4. If using tokens, the Public makes a consensus decision as to which Survivor Team had the most coherent set of strategies and as a group awards 5 extra tokens. Each Survivor Team counts tokens to see who “won” the Scenario. If not using tokens the Public will provide feedback.
  5. The Public presents their proposed solution.

Wrap up – 15 minutes

The Game Facilitator leads a discussion about strategies learned and how participants felt given their assigned roles.

Go back to this activity's main module (Online Gender-Based Violence)