Danish studio Postwork’s newest game, “Fremtidens Landbrug” (The Future of Farming), won the European CAP Communication Award in the “Innovative Communication” category.
The game, which had been developed in collaboration between Postwork, The Danish Ecological Council, and a few other partners, was developed with the primary purpose of teaching students about the impact of decisions by farmers, activists, CEO’s, and politicians on the future of farming.
“The students take the role of different characters that they have to play out a role sitting around a classroom table. As a farmer, an activist, a CEO and a Mayor they have to discuss and argue how they want the future of Denmark to be when it comes to biodiversity, water quality, economy and food production.”, Postwork CEO, Sune Palsgaard says.
In terms of platform, the game is essentially a browser-based voting tool that you feed with information, Palsgaard explains.
“The digital part is a browser based voting tool they feed with information and then gives them a result on how Denmark looks in year 2030 and 2050, both in illustration and text. How is the biodiversity coping, is the farmer earning any money, how much food does Denmark produce and how is the water quality.”
While winning the EU-award came as a happy surprise for the team in charge of the project, it also took them by surprise to see how large the award-ceremony actually was.
“The whole setup for winning the first price was much bigger than we thought when we left for Brussels last week and suddenly faced 300 delegates from all over Europe as well as 200 press people and ended up shaking hands with EU-commissioner Phil Hogan on the stage in front of everybody.”, Palsgaard says to Nordic Game Bits.
The project which has now become Fremtidens Landbrug started when Palsgaard received a call from The Danish Ecological Council in 2013. They had noticed Postwork’s Deep Rift 9 Kickstarter campaign from back in 2013, and would like to talk about how to approach the gaming industry and its possibilities. After a short while, however, it was decided that Postwork should also be in charge of actually developing the game.
“As we started coming up with ideas with them it was soon decided that we would also be in charge of developing the actual game.”
The entire development of the game took a year, of which three months were spent in the design phase, Palsgaard explains. “The design phase was about 3 month. In this time we planned how the roleplay and the online voting tool should work together and it was also during this period we created the wireframe sketch.”
Apart from Sune Palsgaard, 2-4 other developers also worked on the project along with “one project manager on the IT side and one on the content side as well as the pedagogical consultant Henrik Tuxen who specializes in roleplay for educational purposes.”, Palsgaard says.
While it only took one year to develop the game, Palsgaard emphasizes that certain parts of the development process were far from easy.
For example, he mentions that it took more than 15 professors from Danish universities to make the calculations for the game.
“A project we estimated would take about 3 month to develop, ended up taking almost a year, and often it was a matter of waiting for content as well as finding and rewriting code that wasn’t working to our satisfaction. We spent hours and hours trying to pinpoint why the results were not calculated the right way or why some students suddenly weren’t part of the game anymore.”
Looking into the future, Palsgaard mentions that the plan is to develop one more piece of educational material for the Danish schools, targeted at students in the 8th to 10th grade, for which the team will seek funding this summer.
“’Fremtidens Landbrug’ is such a good way to learn about agriculture and has both strong pedagogical- and gamification features. It really should be developed further. We are planning to develop one more educational material directed at the danish schools classes 8 to 10 and will seek funding after summer.”.