Regulation crash-test: applying serious games to policy design

Karol Olejniczak, Michał Wolanski, Igor Widawski


Successful policy solutions rely on policy addressees responding in certain ways. Policy designers need an analytical method that allows them to anticipate impact of a new intervention, while tak- ing into account bounded rationality of policy actors and sociopo- litical complexity. The article proposes using serious games at the stage of policy formulation to test the architecture of a new regulation in a safe environment. It provides a blueprint for using games in policy design, consisting of conceptual framework, design procedure, and techniques for strengthening game valid- ity. The application is illustrated with an example of a draft regu- lation on rural transport in Poland. The case study points out three advantages of game method: (1) revealing mechanisms trig- gered by the architecture of regulation, meaning actors’ initial assumptions, decisions, and feedback loops created by actors’ responses, (2) demonstrating the consequences of mechanisms over time, that in real life would occur with a long delay, and (3) creating a risk-free environment where policy actors can verify their assumptions and experiment with ways of interpreting and responding to new regulation. The article concludes that serious games are a promising method for anticipating impact of complex policy regulation.


Policy Design

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@Annual Review of Policy Design ISSN: ISSN 2291-6989