The Big Issue. The Big Word.

Last night the Social Change Collaboratory Melbourne (#sccollab) meetup group came together at HubMelbourne to run a Rapid Prototyping by Deloitte Digital’s CEO Pete Williams (@rexster).

I also attended the Rapid Prototyping workshop last year at the Deloitte office – and I had to go again when I saw the event on #sccollab. Why? because it is seriously so much fun.

The aim of the workshop is to practically demonstrate rapid prototyping techniques while creating a board game. The workshop session generally has a theme – in this case (given we were at #sccollab) was on social enterprises/social entrepreneurs/social change etc.

Our fabulous team created the game “The Big Issue. The Big Word

sccollab teamOur game was simple, fast paced and highly strategic.

The theme of the game is that you manage Big Issue vendors – and your goal is to strategically place them in the best position around Melbourne to optimize their magazine selling potential.

How it works:

  • Players are split into two teams
  • Each team is given a random set of characters
  • Each team must make 3 or more letter word to earn a vendor (chip)
  • Once you have a vendor, you can immediately place them on the board
  • You must place your first vendor anywhere on the outer ring
  • Each subsequent vendor can only be placed next to an existing vendor (must be a line connecting the two vendors)
  • If you create a word with 5 or more letters – you can either get a new vendor, or remove an opponent’s vendor (must be next to one of your vendors)
  • Letters cannot be re-used
  • Game ends when both teams cannot create anymore words or one team has completely dominated the board
  • Points are calculated at the end (middle spot = 50 magazines, inner ring = 20 magazines, outer ring = 10 magazines)

The Big Issue. The Big Word.

It was amazingly fast paced and the level of team-based complexity sky rocketed – here were some interesting observations (since I was the host for this table as others went to steal ideas from other tables)

  • Don’t create 5+ words too early, early use of 5 letter words wasted valuable letters and ability to steal vendors (since there were generally no enemy vendors next to your vendors that early on the board)
  • Roles within the team – teams which had a person placing vendors while the others created words worked out best, it was faster and less fiddly
  • Hold back on 3/5 letter words – one team held back a few 3 and 5 letter words until they saw the right moment to strike, dropped a 5 letter word to remove the vendor in the middle and dropping a 3 letter word to earn a vendor to take over the throne. that was smart play
  • Aim to take the middle spot quickly – 3 words is all you need to make your way into the center, with such high value, you want to maintain that position
  • Protect the throne – some teams started placing their vendors in the inner circle to protect their middle piece from an onslaught of vendor rivalry (this requires rapid 3 letter word generation to quickly earn vendors)
  • Blocking the other teams vendors – placing your vendors around an enemy vendor to restrict their ability to mobilize (take over the two inner ring positions next to an outer ring vendor – they are left with only the option to move sideways along the outer ring)

As you can see, there was probably only 20 minutes of actual game play time during the session, but the number of strategies and tricks I saw was awesome. Given its speed, multiple games can be run quickly – the hardest part was finding players who were trapped playing those other boring games. haha!

Session ended with each team developing a pitch and selling the product – Robert delivered a great pitch for our team, shame we didn’t get the votes tho :(

So what did I learn? Rapid prototyping is great, the speed and creativity of idea generation and validation is astonishing. In an environment like this – words become action.
So now we need to rapid prototype how we approach more serious matters such as social issues, and turn fluffy words into tangible action.

Be sure to check out thesocialflux for all more events happening around Melbourne!

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  1. Great wrap up. It was amazing what could be achieved in such a short amount of time.

    • Thanks Rhett, was great to meet ya.
      hoped i summed up our awesome game properly, haha!

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