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W. Toorn Vrijthoff, I. Bruil

Delft University of Technology (NETHERLANDS)
Role-playing game:
In faculties of business administration, in social and psychological academies there is knowledge and experience with the didactic form of ‘role-playing game’. In design-oriented faculties there is no common usance to use this specific didactic form.
In this academic year (2009/2010) this didactism is used to teach 260 students in 4.5 weeks time the implications of interdisciplinary design and planning projects and to learn them how to deal with complexities in coordination of different expertise and with collaborative teamwork.

Theories on gaming and simulation:
The ‘role-playing game’ as didactic form is related to theories on ‘gaming’ and ‘simulation’ (De Caluwé and Stoppelenburg, 1997). A game in itself exits on players, rules, events, goals and timesetting. A simulation is a representation, an imitation of some real thing, state of affairs, or process. Simulation is used in many contexts, including the modeling of natural systems or human systems in order to gain insight into their functioning.
In this case Bachelor-students in the faculty of Architecture each assume the role of an expert or character that exist in real design and planning world.
This role-playing game has two main functions. It has both a mirror and a window-function, which means that the students (the players in this didactic game) become aware of existing problems (mirror) in reality and gain insight about the way to handle decision-making in a multi-actor environment.

Group D6: ‘winning team’

Before the game started every student got ad random a specific role in different groups. A role that was congruent to an expert-function in the Dutch municipality and every student therefore became part of an expert-group (28 students with the same role) and a planning-group (28 groups each with 9 students).
The main rule was to integrate different expert-visions in one joint masterplan. Every member of the planning-group had his/her own tasks and had to design subsolutions as part of the game.
At the end of the game each planning group had to present a masterplan of a specific location in a Dutch city. This year the location was the part of The Hague called the Binckhorst. That is an outdated industrial area of 130 ha which is in need of transformation
The end of the role-playing game was that every planning-group presented their masterplan on a poster and a final presentation (power point). The student-presentations were followed by a plenary debate with politicians and scientists of the faculty.

In the paper we represent the experience we had in setting up and fulfilling the roleplay simulation, together with 260 students, about 20 group tutors and 9 role specialists. The students did this exercise as part of their final semester in the bachelor of the faculty of architecture. We will combine these practical experience with scientific theories on gaming and simulation. We will end up the paper with recommendations for the use of roleplay simulation as a learning method within the context of a university curriculum.