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Game Spotlight: Convene the Council (iCivics)

Hey there, I’m Dan Norton, Chief Creative Officer at Filament Games. Once again we’ve had the privilege of teaming up with the fine folks at iCivics to create another great civics game, this time called Convene the Council. 

Convene the Council? What’s it about?

In Convene the Council, you step into the constrictive, but nice-looking shoes of the President of the United States. You’ll work with your National Security Council to make critical foreign policy decisions that affect the country, and the world. Your council provides strategic insight, but it’s up to you to make the call and guide the country through decisions that affect security, prosperity, and values.

I tire of your banter. Where can I play it?

Oh! Sure, check it out here. It’s free!

What was it like working on this project?

The team got amazing feedback from the Council on Foreign Relations, which helped shape the specific actions in the game, and helped us through multiple balance passes on making sure that the player’s decisions made sense, mattered, and had an impact. It’s tricky to make sure a game like this isn’t Completely Impossible or a Total Cake-Walk, and we couldn’t have done it without them.

Did you playtest the game while making it? What was that like?

The game focuses very closely on players considering different crises and opportunities as choices that can have both positive and negative repercussions at the same time. You might support a policy that supports democracy abroad, for example, but at a great fiscal cost. Playtests helped sort out the balance of repercussions for decisions, so that players felt like their decisions mattered, and that they made sense. 

Why a game about Foreign Relations?

Foreign Relations is a critical component of the US Government’s responsibilities. The game has been in the works for quite some time now, but the release of the game has come at a time when the US’s involvement in critical decisions around the world has hit an obvious peak in relevance. Hopefully, students who play this game gain some key context about the ramifications that foreign policy has inside and outside the country, and can apply that context to their own thoughts about how the US should approach the international challenges we face today.

I’ve changed my mind, and have grown to enjoy your banter. Where can I learn more about this cool project?

Don’t sweat it. Head over to iCivics, and check out the amazing collection of games and resources they have. To explore the topic of global civics further, check out these resources too:

World101: a growing library of free educational resources that makes complex international relations and foreign policy issues accessible to all learners using videos, interactive maps, infographics, quizzes, and online teaching materials. 

Model Diplomacy: a free classroom simulation program that invites students to step into the shoes of decision-makers on the National Security Council or United Nations Security Council to debate the world’s most pressing issues.

More of our work with iCivics:

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