Playing board games is a fun way to help people learn. Board games establish the connection of simulated situations where we can immediately and directly relate them to our everyday lives. It is a fabulous way to get hands-on experience with topics that are abstract in nature and require a lot of analytical processes, taking decisions that are vital to our learning and our entire lives.
SIM Democracy is a traditional board game with a twist. Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Thailand created it in 2011. It was put together by toy designers and democracy experts with an intention to provide an interactive tool for young adults and first-time voters to gain a better understanding of the basic functioning of a democratic community and of public policy. The aim is not so much to provide answers but to stimulate questions and further inquiry, thereby increasing interest in public affairs.
Through the simulation of a simple democratic community, SIM Democracy allows participants to play different roles in a democratic society; to take on the role of a government or the role of an ordinary citizen. The government role involves budget planning, resource allocation and spending, investment, provision of infrastructure and support to citizens in four policy areas – public health, security, public education, and environmental protection. The citizen role includes generating income and paying taxes, taking community initiatives, engaging in charity, and monitoring the government. In particular, the SIM Democracy game engages in four key topics as follows:
- Free and Fair Elections: Democracy as a Political System of Competition for Power
- Citizen Participation: The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life.
- Rights of Citizens: Protection of the human rights of all citizens.
- Rule of Law: the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.
FNF Myanmar has translated this game into Myanmar, as well as redesigned the illustrations to match the local context. SIM Democracy’s Myanmar version was launched in Yangon in October 2014. Ever since then, we have introduced SIM Democracy to parliaments: both at the Union level and State/Region level such as Yangon, Kachin, Mandalay and Rakhine. Moreover, this game has been played throughout Myanmar by union ministers, government officials, ambassadors and diplomats, representatives from civil society organizations, social activists, human rights defenders, business people, and community leaders.