a re-skinned version of the settlers of catan ginger nichols it5830 – using games to teach...
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CORPORATE CATANA re-skinned version of The Settlers of CatanGinger NicholsIT5830 – Using Games to TeachUniversity of Colorado DenverMarch 13, 2010
THE STORY – CORPORATE CATAN
INTRODUCTIONThe purpose of this assignment was to reskin the game The Settlers of Catan and use it to teach a topic that would be within one’s domain. I chose finance. There are literally hundreds of topics that one could use within the world of finance. However, most the topics I tried did not fit within the context of The Settlers of Catan without radical change to the rules of the original game. My goal was to stay as true as possible to the original rules of the game. I tested topics like building a mutual fund, personal finance and keeping a balanced budget but nothing really fit.
CORPORATE CATANAfter reworking my ideas several times, I found an idea that could work with little alteration to the original game. The goal of The Settlers of Catan is to collect resources to build settlements and cities connected by roads. The goal of my game, Corporate Catan, is to collect cash from various sources to grow a business from a small local business to one that sells products in a big box retail store.
GETTING STARTEDYou are the owner of a small business that makes widgets. There are up to four other widget makers who play the game along with you. Each widget maker starts with two local retail shops and two networks to place anywhere on the game board. The goal is to expand your business locally through your expanding networks and eventually have your widgets sold in big box retail stores. Just like The Settlers of Catan, the player who accumulates 10 Victory Points first wins the game.
The game is played with the original number tokens, cities, settlements, roads, robber and rules. The game board and cards were modified.
THE GAME BOARDThe game board stays true to the original The Settlers of Catan. The hex tiles in Corporate Catan represent the different ways that companies can raise capital. Modifications to the hex tiles are as follows:
Original Tile New Tile
Hills – Brick Green – Money
Pasture – Wood Blue - Stocks
Mountains- Ore Orange –Bank Loans
Fields – Grain Yellow – Bonds
Forest - Lumber Pink – Private Placement
Desert - Nothing Black – Stagnant no growth
HEXES AND RESOURCE CARDS
GREEN – MONEYEvery business needs cash to operate. Materials, employees, advertising, rent, and production costs all need to be paid for. Obtaining more money so the widget company can grow is the objective of the game.
BLUE – STOCKA company can sell stock to investors to raise cash. When an investor owns stock, the investor owns a part of the widget company. Stock holders are entitled to vote on some company items like the board of directors, but they have no say in the day-to-day operations of the company. However, this does dilute your ownership of your widget company.
HEXES AND RESOURCE CARDS
YELLOW – BONDSAnother way to raise cash is to sell bonds to investors. The widget company gets the cash today, and thebond holder gets their original investment paid back when the bond matures and earns interest for buying the bond.
Bond holders are considered creditors and may need to be paid back if the company dissolves.
PINK – PRIVATE PLACEMENTA private placement is selling stock to raise capital, however, the stock is not available to all investors. Private placements usually involve institutional investors like mutual funds, insurance companies, or pension funds.
HEXES AND RESOURCE CARDS
ORANGE – BANK LOANSBank loans are not the preferred way for a company to raise cash since banks charge higher interest rates than what the company would pay on a bond. Bank loans are typically used to meet short term cash requirements like meeting the payroll or paying expenses while waiting for accounts receivable funds.
BLACK – STAGNANTThis is not a good place to be. The company is not growing but it is not decreasing in size either. Just enough cash comes in to meet expenses.
PIGGY BANKThe piggy bank replaces the harbors and maritime trade in the original game. The piggy bank represents money the company has in reserve and reduces the ratio of resource cards needed to trade with the bank.
BUILDING COST AND SCORING GUIDEOriginal Purpose
Victory Points Bank Loan
Bonds Cash Private Placement
Network Road 0 1 1
Retail Location in a City
Settlement 1 1 1 1 1
Product placed in a Big Box Retailer
City 2 3 1 2
Development Cards have additional Victory Points and resources.
A big box retailer replaces an already existing retail store.
You only play 1 Development Card per turn and you cannot play a Development Card on the turn it’s built.
The building costs and scoring guide are very similar to the original game. The table above lists the original purpose of the game piece for this report. The Victory Points and resources to trade to build a specific building have not changed much from the original game. The number of private placements required to sell widgets at the big box retailer is less than the number of lumber cards required in the original game since private placements are not terribly common.
DEVELOPMENT CARDS - PROGRESS
Modifications to the 3 Progress Cards (use 2 of each) in the deck of Development Cards.
• The Progress Cards help the game players by giving the players additional resource cards and networks. The Steal a Client Card was the Monopoly Card in Settlers of Catan. When the player draws this card, the other players must give all Resource Cards of certain type to the cardholder. This symbolizes the income lost when a client is lost.
• The Deal with a Retailer Card replaces the Road Building Card. The addition of two networks helps the player who draws this card to move their business into another area of the game board.
• The Year of Plenty Card is replaced by the Record Profits card. The player draws two resource cards to share the profits and can play them immediately.
DEVELOPMENT CARDS – VICTORY POINTS
Modifications to the 3 Victory Point Cards.
• The Victory Point Cards in the original game represent new buildings for the settlement. To fit within the context of the modified game the Victory Point Cards represent achievements that the player in the corporate environment might aspire to achieve.
• Victory Point Cards award 1 Victory Point each when drawn from the Development Card deck.
• Corporate Catan contains 2 Promotion Cards, 2 Employee of the Year Cards and 1 Extra Week of Vacation Card.
DEVELOPMENT CARDS – SEC INVESTIGATION
The Knight Development cards represent the area where I took the most liberty with the game. In the original game, the Knight Card allows the player to move the robber to a hex and steal a Resource Card from a player with a settlement adjacent to that hex. In the corporate world, this just could not happen.
In the modified version of the game, Mary Shapiro, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) becomes our knight. The robber is now an SEC pawn. The player holding the SEC Investigation Card places the pawn on a hex and takes a resource from a player who has a settlement adjacent to that hex. Losing a resource card represents the damage caused by the SEC Investigation. If a company did something inappropriate the SEC has the authority to fine the company. If no wrongdoing was found, perhaps the stigma of an SEC investigation causes the company to lose money while their competitors pick up the business.
he original game gives the player who plays the most Knight Cards a bonus. In the modified game, it did not seem right that the player who used the SEC Card the most received a bonus. I created a SEC Investigation Survivor token. After the SEC Investigation Card is played, the player being investigated receives one token. The player with the most SEC Tokens (but a minimum of 3) receives a Special Card.
The Special Cards in the original game are awarded to the players who played the most Knight Cards (with a minimum of 3) and the player with the longest uninterrupted road. If either card is held at the end of the game, the player adds 2 Victory Points to his or her score. The 2 Victory Points are awarded in Corporate Catan but the achievements are different. The player who Survives the most SEC Investigations with a minimum of 3 receives the Investigation Survivor Card. SEC Investigations can damage the reputation of a company and if a company survived three of them, then the odds are pretty good that the company can overcome any negative fallout from the investigation.
The player with the Largest Network in the game is rewarded with a Special Card and 2 Victory Points. Networking in the modified game represents laying the groundwork to grow the business and establish an additional retail location.
DESIGN PROCESSThe design process was definitely frustrating and time consuming. I would start with an idea and see how I could make it fit within the confines of the original game. I sketched out my ideas before I committed to them by making the actual game board and cards. Each time I got a little further in the process before I got to a point where I discovered that my idea just was not going to work.
The first place I started was with the overarching theme of the game. In the final version, that became the idea of raising money to grow a company. Really this concept is not a radical departure from the original game and that is probably why it worked the best. After I had my overarching theme determined, I started working with smaller things until I got down to the smallest detail. I could probably write out the harbors and maritime trading aspect of the game if necessary but it would be impossible to write out the hex tiles and the resource cards. Since this is not a made up game where I could have the companies do anything to raise money, I had to keep my ideas grounded in the real world. So the resources had to be accurate and the development cards too. These cards offered both good and bad consequences in The Settlers of Catan and had to realistically reflect some negative and positive things that could happen to a corporation as well.
What really helped me in the design process was playing the game. I would get to a place where I thought I was on the right track. My husband and I would play as much of the game that was playable at that point. When things started to seem like they did not make sense, I realized that I had to go back and work the kinks out again. This process involved a lot of trial and error plus far more time than I ever thought it would.
MODIFICATIONS AND LEARNING OUTCOMESWhile I modified The Settlers of Catan, I kept my audience in mind. Since I’m not actually training anyone at the moment, I had to go back 4 years to think about the temporary phone agents I trained at the call center of a mutual fund company. The first day of class is a quick Finance 101 class for them and the concept of stocks, bonds, and raising cash becomes pretty confusing for them. Some came in with absolutely no knowledge of the financial markets and by the end of two weeks they were expected to take phone calls like this was information they knew for a lifetime. My overarching goal was to make complex financial terms make some kind of connection with the learner. The game is the common medium because most people have played games. Perhaps inserting the unfamiliar within the familiar game context would help the learner to integrate the new information into his or her stored knowledge.
I think back to that period of temporary phone agent training and it was intense. We crammed a lot of information into a very short time frame. In the past training was 6 weeks long but over time it shrunk to 2 weeks at the request of management. Taking a break to step away from the computer based training and lecture would be a nice change of pace for individuals. It would allow learners to test their knowledge in a safe environment. We really put pressure on these representatives, they had to pass about 20 different exams given after each session with an 80% average or lose their job. The game contains serious information but the environment it creates is not terribly serious. People can play the game, have some fun and show to themselves that they really know the information and understand the concepts.
PLAYTESTINGPlaytesting sounds more complicated than it actually was. In the early stages of game design, I would play the game with my husband. He doesn’t have a background or much interest in finance so he was good to work with during the design process. If there was something that he did not understand he would tell me and I would go back to the drawing board or explain the concept to him and then see if the game made sense to him. I am not sure that people would be able to play this game without understanding the concepts of obtaining capital beforehand. Perhaps this activity would be best after the lecture on stocks, bonds and growing a company.
When I got the game to the point where it was almost the final version, I took it to work. Since I work at a mutual fund company people know these concepts like the back of their hands. If any of my concepts were incorrect or a little off base, they let me know. I played the game with my old field trainer team and they also gave me feedback. Their perspective was great since these individuals had both the perspective of training individuals and knowing the financial concepts in the game.
Playtesting consumed a lot of time but it was the only way to make sure that my facts were correct and that the modifications of the game actually made sense. What would be the point of designing a game that you just could not play? Playtesting makes sure that you do not wind up at this point.
REFLECT ON THE MODIFICAITON PROCESS AS A MEANS OF BETTER UNDERSTANIDNG CONTENT: HOW DID THE MODIFICATION EXERCISE HELP YOU LEARN MORE ABOUT THE LEARNING DOMAIN?When I reflect on the game modification process, I do not see where I gained any more information about the learning domain. I work in finance and have for the past 11 years so the concepts are not new to me. I didn’t gain any insight on raising capital but I did gain some insight on the process to modify the game so the topic makes sense for others.
I see this game used in a setting where people who are unfamiliar or have a very small knowledge base when it comes to corporations raising capital. The one thing that everyone in class has in common is the general knowledge as to how games are played. It is not really important if the learners are familiar with The Settlers of Catan game just that they are familiar with playing games and associate it with a good or at least an experience that was not terrible. We can take complex information and put it into a familiar format and then it becomes less intimidating for the learner.
Photographs:All photographs were downloaded from Microsoft Office Online retrieved March 9, 2010 from http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/clipart/default.aspx except for the photographs listed below:
– The Game Board slide #3 taken by Ginger Nichols– Development Cards slide #10 photo of Mary Shapiro downloaded from the Securities and Exchange Commission retrieved March 9, 2010 http://www.sec.gov/images/schapiro-hires.jpg
Game:The Settlers of Catan (2007) by Klaus Teuber published by Mayfair Games INC.