SIMSOC: Simulated Society, Coordinator's Manual: Coordinator's Manual, Fifth Edition

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9780684871981: SIMSOC: Simulated Society, Coordinator's Manual: Coordinator's Manual, Fifth Edition

An Overview
SIMSOC (which is pronounced sim-sock and stands for simulated society) is the most versatile role-playing game in the world. It has been used by hundreds of thousands of people and tens of thousands of groups, in introductory sociology courses and business seminars, for firsthand understanding of the forces that determine success or failure in any group or society. Coordinators accustomed to the previous edition will find no cumbersome rule changes -- this edition is simpler yet broader than its predecessor. New to it are:


  • Simpler, streamlined rules.
  • Increased size levels so that SIMSOC exercises can accommodate up to ninety people.
  • A way to simulate generating private capital through direct investment.
  • Numerous options covering everything from cellular phones to e-mail, which can be used at the coordinator's discretion.
  • Readings from professionals and popular authors like Robert Putnam and Nicholas Lemann to address issues important to sociologists and managers of complex organizations.

Use
SIMSOC is appropriate for any group that wants to learn the nature of group dynamics and leadership or social organization and control. Big businesses like MGM and Lucent Technologies, charitable organizations, and local governmental agencies have all found it a useful teaching tool for over thirty years, as have college- and graduate-level social science students.
Required from You
The coordinator must set up the game and collect and distribute various materials during it. Beyond that, he or she needs only to observe what is happening and focus post-game discussion and efforts on pertinent issues.
General Parameters
The SIMSOC Coordinator's Manual contains complete instructions and all the materials needed for play.
Also required are:

  • Participants: Groups of up to ninety for each SIMSOC exercise.
  • Time: Fifty to ninety minutes, five to ten times, for a total of no less than about eight hours.
  • Space: Ideally four separate rooms, but the game can also be run in one large or two medium-sized rooms.
  • Equipment: Each player needs the SIMSOC Participant's Manual and a pencil. One Coordinator's Manual will be needed for each group of up to ninety participants. It can be obtained, for a $5.00 fee, by writing, on letterhead, to:

The Free Press
A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Faculty Service Desk
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
To learn more about our academic and professional resources, visit us online at www.SimonSaysacademic.com.

"Sinopsis" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.

About the Author:

William A. Gamson, the former President of the American Sociological Association, is also a former Guggenheim Fellow and Professor in Boston College's Sociology Department. He is the creator of SIMSOC and author of Talking Politics, The Strategy of Social Protest, and Power and Discontent, among other books.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Preface

SIMSOC has been developed to make social science more vivid to students at the college level and to adults in leadership training programs. It focuses on what is perhaps the most central problem for a student of society: the establishment and maintenance of social organization. When citizens riot, when governments use indiscriminate violence against their citizens, when generals seize power and liquidate political opponents, when armed gangs terrorize their neighbors, we begin to recognize that the existence of order and legitimacy is a mystery to be explained rather than part of the world's natural organization.

There would be less mystery if societies provided full social justice for all citizens. But many instead provide great social, political, and economic inequalities, with some groups excluded and deprived of benefits that are enjoyed by others. Demands for inclusion and social justice inevitably generate conflict. SIMSOC attempts to create a situation in which participants must actively question the nature of the social order and examine the processes of social conflict and social control. As an inevitable by-product, participants find themselves dealing with a host of issues, including interpersonal trust, leadership, "deviant" behavior, social protest, and power relations.

SIMSOC is intended to be used in conjunction with conventional classroom discussion and readings. A selection of such readings is included in this manual. The manual also includes suggestions for study questions based on participation in SIMSOC. The current edition represents a newly revised version of the game, prepared with the assistance of Larry Peppers.

The use of games as a teaching or training device has a long history in many fields. Social scientists have developed a variety of games focused on social processes for use in teaching students about the society in which they live. Like all of these games, SIMSOC does not attempt to imitate a real society in every respect, but includes characteristics that highlight certain issues and problems. One can participate in SIMSOC at many levels. As in real life, what one learns will depend on what one puts into it.

WILLIAM A. GAMSON

August 1999

Copyright © 1966, 1969, 1972, 1978, 1991, 2000 by William A. Gamson

Introduction

You will shortly be participating as a citizen in a simulated society. If the society is to be a valuable learning experience, we will need your cooperation. Cooperation in this context means taking your objectives in the society seriously, We have tried to create a situation in which each of you has goals that depend on other people in the society for their achievement. Some of your goals will be held in common with other people, and some will bring you into conflict with others. Inevitably, some of you will do better than others in achieving your goals but, unlike some games, SIMSOC has no clear winners or losers.

You represent only some of the citizens of your society. Other citizens are present only in imaginary form -- that is, certain rules of the game are based on assumptions about the reactions of these imaginary citizens. Nevertheless, this is basically your society to do with as you like.

COORDINATOR'S ROLE

The coordinator's role is kept to an absolute minimum once the society is in process. He or she will maintain the bank, receive forms, and carry out other tasks specified in the manual to make the game operate. If questions about the rules arise, the coordinator will guide you to the appropriate section of the manual and help you locate appropriate forms, but will not interpret ambiguous rules or advise you how to deal with situations arising in the game. The coordinator will do everything possible to avoid becoming enmeshed as a participant in your society once it has begun.

NATURE OF THE RULES

The rules in the manual are intended to represent certain "natural" forces in the real world rather than human laws. To ignore them by cheating simply renders the game pointless and meaningless. The coordinator should not be put in the position of having to monitor your observance of the rules, but should be able to depend on your cooperation to achieve the larger purpose of learning. The rules of the manual, as you will see, allow great leeway for you to add your own agreements and rules. The agreements that you make among yourselves are your own responsibility -- these represent human laws rather than "natural" forces. If a player ignores or refuses to comply with a rule your society makes, you must face the issue of how to deal with this behavior. All players have a responsibility to observe the rules in the manual to make the game operative, but it is a matter of individual choice whether one observes the rules that you may establish to govern yourselves.

In spite of efforts to anticipate various contingencies, ambiguous situations will inevitably arise. When more than one meaning of a rule is possible, the coordinator will refer the question to a group within the society for interpretation. The coordinator will be concerned only with those aspects of the ambiguous situation that affect his or her specific tasks as coordinator.

SUMMARY OF THE RULES

The rules that follow are detailed, but not as complicated as they first appear; you will discover this once SIMSOC is in process. A short summary of the rules is included here to give you a general sense of the nature of the society and the options available to you. It also includes page references so that later you can easily look up exact details as necessary. A careful reading of this summary is a helpful way to begin, but you should read the complete rules rapidly. Once you begin to play and attempt to achieve your goals, you will need to read various specific sections of the complete rules more carefully.

Simbucks

Simbucks are the basic currency in SIMSOC. Initially, they are held in a bank run by the game coordinator.

Region

All members of the society live in one of four regions.

Moving

A player may move to another region by paying a moving fee to the bank.

Travel

A person cannot travel between regions without having either a travel ticket or a Private Transportation Certificate. Travel tickets may be obtained from a limited number of players who have travel agencies and receive a supply of tickets each session. A Private Transportation Certificate may be purchased from the bank.

Subsistence

Every member of the society must, for every session attended, provide for his or her subsistence, doing this by means of either a subsistence ticket or luxury living. Subsistence tickets can be obtained from a limited number of players who have subsistence agencies and receive a supply of tickets each session. Luxury living may be purchased from the bank.

Failure to provide subsistence for a session will mean loss of one's job. Failure to do so in two consecutive sessions means one is considered dead and cannot participate in the society in any way.

Munchies (optional)

The coordinator will maintain a Munchie Bazaar where Simbucks may be converted to food or beverages. Or, instead of Munchies, the coordinator may make other desirable items available for purchase with Simbucks.

Enterprises

Participants can invest their Simbucks to buy risky enterprises from the coordinator. The success of these enterprises depends partly on luck and partly on the skill of the investors.

Basic Groups

There are eight basic groups in SIMSOC for which you can work. Only the heads of these groups will be designated by the coordinator at the beginning. The rest of the players must find jobs. The head of each group receives the group's income to dispense.

The groups include two industries (BASIN and RETSIN), two political parties (POP and SOP), an employee interest group (EMPIN), a human services group (HUMSERVE), a mass media group (MASMED), and a rule-interpreting group (JUDCO). You should read the description of these groups before beginning play because you will be asked to designate a preference. If you are not picked as head of a group, you will be faced with the need for employment. You will also have an opportunity to support or withhold support from some of these groups.

National Indicators

Numerical values for four National Indicators are calculated at the end of each session. The indicators are Food and Energy Supply (FES), Standard of Living (SL), Social Cohesion (SC), and Public Commitment (PC). These National Indicators may be raised by investing Simbucks in either of two broad public programs -- Research and Conservation, or Welfare Services. The National Indicators decline by a certain percentage each session and can be lowered further by various actions and events in the society. If the National Indicators decline below certain points, the income available to the basic groups in the society declines. If the National Indicators rise above a certain point, the income available to the basic groups in the society increases. If any National Indicator goes below zero, the society collapses and the game is over.

Absenteeism

Certain National Indicators (described above) are lowered when members are absent, regardless of the reason for the absence.

Unemployment

Certain National Indicators are lowered if there are members of the society without jobs.

Death

Certain National Indicators are lowered if members die.

Minority Group (optional)

The coordinator will announce whether this option is in effect. It provides for the designation of some members of the society as Minority Group Members. These people may be removed from their positions at any time by action of any two non-Minority Group Members, or may face other obstacles.

Individual Goals

You will be asked to select certain personal or individual goals to pursue during the course of the society. You will have an opportunity to change these goals and to declare at each session the extent to which you feel you are...

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