Producers & ConsumersFor a long time I have struggled to convey my passion for free and open culture (via open source software and Creative Commons) to my students. They live in a context which often promotes (or at least accepts) piracy, and most of their cultural landmarks are commercial in nature. This makes the most convincing arguments for approaches like open source software and Creative Commons culture much less compelling. For example “free Creative Commons music” does not mean much to the average teenager, irrespective of the quality of the tunes, if Taylor Swift is not included in the catalog (and being a commercial artist, she is of course not). Similarly “open source software” (like Firefox) does not appeal when free, commercial software (like Chrome) is available, whether or not they promote a healthy, open, standards-based Internet.

Yet, these ideas, values, practices and communities are important, if we are to have a culture that is not more concerned with profits than with values, freedom and art. After struggling with this problem for over 5 years, I have decided to build a game to introduce these ideas to students via a live action, interactive simulation.

The result, called Producers & Consumers, is a cultural simulation game in which players (young or old) experience the interplay between culture, creativity, commerce, copyright and piracy, hands on. The aim is to help players experience the limitations of a corporate model of cultural production and consumption, and help them start considering alternatives, such as Creative Commons, based on openness, sharing and reputation.

Version 1 of the game is now complete, with one set of cards created and ready to play. The first game, with our Year 5s, is scheduled for Monday.

Naturally, the game is licensed under Creative Commons, and so is free for anyone to download, remix and share onward. All feedback is welcome. To access the game, click here and start by reading the Overview document.

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