About the Foundation for Public Code

Running a governance game workshop

This guide


  1. What you need
    1. Participants
    2. Equipment for physical meetings
    3. Preparing an online session
  2. Getting started
  3. Facilitating
  4. Next step
  5. Wrapping up

What you need


The game can be played with any number of participants. Since discussions in groups larger than four tend to split, aim for 2-4 participants. It is possible to run two groups in parallel so if there is 6 or more participants split them into two groups if space allows for it.

Equipment for physical meetings

You will need a table or a flat surface that everyone in the group can stand around. One deck of cards per group is needed. The game can be enhanced by having a large paper first placed on the table that the participants can draw arrows on.

Preparing an online session

You can also use digitized versions of the cards in a tool like Excalidraw, Google slides or Miro. Make a copy of one of the templates (Excalidraw, Google slides) and make sure it is accessible and editable by anyone with the link. If you use another tool, you can find image files for all the cards attached to the latest release. Set up a video chat to enable discussions between the participants. Highlight to the participants that a large, or even a second, screen will make the game easier to follow.

Getting started

If you are running two parallel groups, try to get an even representation of skill sets and backgrounds in them. For example, don’t put all developers in one group or all people from one municipality in one group.

Explain the rules and goals, with those cards as a guide. Then either pick a scenario randomly for each group or just select them. Do the same for starting states. Have someone in each group read the scenario for the group and let them also have it for reference during the game. Give them all the actor cards that they need and ask them to place it on the table with the starting state as a guide. Then hand out the first object cards with the instruction to place them on the table as well and talk about where that should be.


If it looks like they are on the wrong track, intervene before they deviate too far. Also ask them questions to make things that might be ambiguous to the group explicit. Try to engage the entire group, sometimes the quiet persons have opinions that can spark discussion in the wider group.

Next step

When it seems like a group has all the cards in place and agreed on the relationships between them, either pick a calamity randomly for each group or just select. Have someone in the group read it for the group and let them also have it for reference during the game. Continue facilitating, and when they are done with the first calamity repeat with a second one.

Wrapping up

When they are done, ask them to reflect within the group on how it went. Is there anything particular that stood out to them while doing this? Any realization that they made? What advice would they want to give to a public body starting their work with open source?