The ‘Futures Game’: A Scenario Game Workshop Package to Engage Futures Thinking

By David Beurle, Michael O’Connor and James Fisher.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

We have developed a simple, paper-based scenario game concept as a means of engaging people ‘actively’ in futures thinking and in altering their perceptions of the future of a region. The game was designed to present scenarios at a reduced temporal and spatial scale while adding the extra dimensions of participation by groups in decision-making and immediate representation of the implications of decisions. The game consists of printed maps of a hypothetical regional area, and is played in a workshop setting in teams of three to seven people. Participants are faced with a series of game steps in which they make critical decisions about the future of a hypothetical region. They are required to assimilate external events, deal with contentious issues and reconcile decision-making against the triple bottom line. Key features of the region, represented on the maps, change in response to the decisions made. It is played as a fast paced and thought-provoking game. The scenario game has been developed into a stand alone kit, called the ‘Futures Game’. Preliminary observations indicate the Futures Game has significant promise as an experiential learning tool to stimulate discussion and learning about regional decision-making. This paper describes the development of the game and its adaptation into a stand-alone kit, and its use as a tool to extend the learning in regional scenario planning efforts.

Keywords: Scenario Game, Futures Game, Scenario Planning, Futuring, Community Engagement

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp.143-148. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.117MB).

David Beurle

Managing Director, Innovative Leadership Australia, Drummoyne, NSW, Australia

David Beurle is Managing Director of Innovative Leadership Australia (, an internationally award-winning company with extensive experience in community and regional economic development. He holds a degree in Agricultural Science from Sydney University and his current work focus includes industry and regional scenario planning and community visioning across North America and Australia. His professional experience has included over 10 years working on Natural Resource Management in the rangeland area of Western Australia, international trade development and rural revitalisation. He has served as a Director on the Board of the Western Australian Community Foundation.

Dr. Michael O’Connor

Research Scientist, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Floreat, WA, Australia

Michael O’Connor is research scientist at CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems in Perth, Western Australia, with a PhD from Curtin University of Technology. He currently works as a knowledge analyst for cross-disciplinary research on problems of long-term national significance, including energy sustainability and Indigenous livelihoods. Michael contributes expertise in spatial and regional analysis, integrated assessments for sustainability, scenario planning, historical ecology, Indigenous history and knowledge encoding.

Dr. James Fisher

Principal, Désirée Futures, York, WA, Australia

James Fisher is Principal of Desiree Futures, a private research and consultancy company that focuses on rural communities and industries. He has undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications from The University of Western Australia, and 20 years of experience in agricultural research, systems modelling and scenario planning. He is a resident of the wheatbelt region of Western Australia and has a passionate interest in the development of this area.


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