Perpetual Collaborator
3 August 2023

Cultural Transformation Game Workshop

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How might a game accelerate cultural transformation across the National Security team in Canada, NATO members and partners?

Let’s find out by experimenting with game mechanics, scenarios and metrics together! Workshop insights will be informing AOD’s next transformative strategic game.

What: Cultural Transformation Game Workshop

When: September 21 (9AM to 4PM) & September 22 (9AM to 12:15PM)

Where: The Atelier, 95 Clegg Street, Ottawa (ON) K1S 1C5

Dress Code: Game designer, that is, too casual

Meals: Simple lunch and refreshments will be provided

Keynote: Nicholas Fortugno, CCO of Playmatics, a game development studio, and educator at Parsons School of Design, will be giving a talk on his experience working on impact games and specifically how to encourage and measure behavior change through game design.

Places are limited, register ASAP at

Workshop Schedule:

Thursday, September 21
9:00-9:15 – Welcome and Orientation
9:15-10:30 – Critical Appreciation of Games for Changing Beliefs & Behaviors
10:30-10:45 – Break
10:45-12:15 – Keynote (Nick Fortugno)
12:15-1:15 – Lunch
1:15-3:00 – Mechanics, Scenarios and Metrics Brainstorming Stations
3:00-3:15 – Break
3:15-4:00 – Mechanics, Scenarios and Metrics Synthesis
5:00-6:30 – Dinner
6:30-8:30 – Breakaway Launch (AOD’s organic design project on a new leadership framework based on multiple interviews with CAF members)

Friday, September 22
9:00-10:30 – Group Prototyping & Testing
10:30-10:45 – Break
10:45-12:15 – Prototype Pitching & Way Forward
12:15-1:15 – Lunch

Cultural Transformation Game Workshop 2023 Rev 3 reduced


Playbook: Cultural Transformation Game Workshop

Welcome to the fourth AOD game design workshop!

Following the success of Breakthrough: The Arctic Albatross, a game co-designed by the community for the community, we are ready to undertake the impossible. We will attempt to co-design a serious game experience that will contribute to changing beliefs and behaviours in the National Security Team in Canada in alignment with evolving policies on ethics, values and conduct. We consider the National Security team as including all national security professionals working in a government organization involving a security element such as the Canadian Armed Forces, Public Safety, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or the Canadian Security Establishment for instance. This project will then become a stepping stone for developing a version for the NATO community as a whole. 

By joining this project you are not only supporting an important cause, but you will also hone your skills as a game designer for change in your organization. After this workshop, you will be in a better position to consider games as tools to accelerate change initiatives and especially their implementation. Some of you will also be in a better position to design games that may add value to your organization. Finally, cultural change champions will, in time, be able to add this critical tool of their collective making to their toolkit in their organization.

Nobody can accomplish this mission impossible alone. The diversity of backgrounds required is, perhaps, beyond any other medium. To make the most of this diversity, you can rely on this playbook to insure a common ground prior to launching the workshop. Please use these resources to prepare and anticipate activities. We invite you to be selective based on the gaps you would like to fill depending on your specific background, time available and interests.

Our  planning assumption is based on participants playtesting “Military Dilemmas” and the “Way Out scenario” before the workshop to inform the first activity (see further below). Finally, please note that AOD subscribes to the Derby Principles promoting diversity and inclusion for all game design projects. Visit PAX Sims to know more.


What is the problem and what are the emerging policies?

For participants less familiar with issues related to conduct, beliefs and behaviours in the Canadian national security team, you may consult especially the Executive Summary of these reports:

1.Louise Arbour’s report of the Independent External Comprehensive Review on sexual misconduct, harassment and the crisis of leadership in the Canadian Armed Forces.

2.Ethos: Trusted To Serve, an updated doctrine on Condust and Performance for Canadian Armed Forces.

3.Report into Workplace Harassment in the RCMP for an overview of organizational culture issues in the RCMP.

4.Broken Dreams, Broken Lives: The devastating effects of Sexual harassment on Women in the RCMP.

5. Statement of Claim of 5 Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) employees on working condition in 2017.



Why games for transforming beliefs and behaviours?

1. Read Kassie Miedema, AOD design & foresight researcher’s blog to better understand why by appreciating the state of the art of game for change from observations collected at the Game for Change conference in New York City in June 2023.


2. If you are still skeptical about the power of games to set conditions for changing beliefs and behaviours, watch Jane McGonigal’s Games can Make a Better World Ted Talk (20 min).


3. For more concrete examples, watch Rob Pearson’s 7 video games conducive to transformation (19 min)


Game Design 101

Designing a game for the first time can be intimidating. This may be the case for participants who never took part to a game design session before and especially for participants who do not play games regularly. The good news is that nobody knows exactly what they are doing! There are no magic formula available to master to design a successful game. The only formula available is trials and errors building on a wide diversity of feedback. These resources will nonetheless provide you with the fundamentals:

1.For a comprehensive overview of board game design as a process, watch Gabe Barrett’s How to Make a Boardgame in 2023? (up to 23 min mark)



2. For a glossary of key terms used in board game design (5 min. read)

3. For a more advanced resource on the fundamentals of game design, listen to AOD member Loagan Stroud’s podcast on designing interesting decisions (19 min).


9:15-10:30 – Thur, Sept 21: Critical Appreciation of Games for Changing Beliefs & Behaviors

This first activity aims at surfacing the inner game designer in all participants, share their preferences as players and teambuilding. Incidentally, playtesting feedback generated by participants will contribute to inform game design teams behind these two projects.

When playing the two games (10 min each maximum), please take notes of your answers to the following questions to be shared with your group on Sept 21st:


1. What do you think about the player experience as a whole? What makes the game fun? What makes it engaging? 

2. What may make these games potentially transformational in terms of beliefs & behaviors  ? 

3. What would you keep versus what would you change in these games? Why?

Playtest 1: Military Dilemmas by the Canadian Defence Academy’s Future Learning Team

For Iphone

For Android

Playtest 2: A Way Out Game

Consult your emails for the html link and context document.


1:15-3:00 – Thu, Sept 21: Mechanics, Scenarios and Metrics Brainstorming Stations

In the afternoon, we will conduct 3 facilitated rotating sprints to generate Mechanics, Scenarios and Metrics. The goal is to generate and share as many ideas as possible that may act as stepping stones for the prototyping activities on the second day and for the development as a whole.


Mechanics Station

For a complete repository of all mechanics employed in boardgames, browse the impressive BoardGameGeek mechanics webpage.


Scenario Station 

For an overview of the basics of storytelling, watch Adam Koroguz, AOD member’s monthly campfire.


Metrics Station

Nicholas Fortugno’s keynote will provide us with the basics required for brainstorming the key elements that could be measured in the game on Thursday.


Friday, Sept 22: Group Prototyping & Testing

1. For what it means to prototype game features and why we do so as early as possible, listen to Cogito design video (8min).



2. Tracy Fullerton’s Game Design Workshop, the ultimate reference,  offers a thorough summary of physical prototyping as a method in chapter 7:

Fullerton Prototyping


Please contact Philippe Beaulieu-B, our co-president on AOD discord channel or at for further targeted resources

This Workshop is Funded by 

Archipelago LogoMINDS logo

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