Science and trading?

With the Covid-19 outbreak, we’ve looked afresh at how we do public engagement. We’ve had to consider what people really want to do when they can’t have large-scale get togethers with family and friends – at least, not in person. We’ve been playing a lot of games online, and we’re sure lots of you have too. With this in mind, we wondered if we could adapt one of our favourite formats of game to a science theme.


This ‘Science Trading Game’ takes the Ronseal approach, doing exactly what it says on the tin. We’ve created an imaginary scientific conference where you are the attendee. Each player is assigned a team, and a role within that team. You might be from a pharmaceuticals company, a large funding body – or even a university researcher. Are you a leading professor, a high-flying business liaison manager, or a public engagement professional? As in real life, everyone brings something to this conference. It could be money, staff, knowledge – there is a broad range of assets. Also like any real conference, you’ll be there with a need to accomplish some objectives. This includes what your team needs, of course, but it might also include some more personal goals.


How does it work?

You’ll need to sign up for a time slot. If you want to play with someone else that’s great, but they’ll also need to sign up for the same slot and be working on their own computer, tablet or phone.

Before the game begins, we’ll send you your character information. If you’re on a team with someone you know you can share team goals, but whatever you do don’t share your individual objectives – they’re super secret! You don’t need to learn everything, so don’t worry about that. It’s best to make a note of your assets plus have a pen or pencil and some paper to make notes – you’ll want them, trust us!

We’ll send you a link to join the session. It’s best if you have a computer or laptop with a camera and, ideally, headphones with a microphone. Have a check of old junk drawers – we found a set that came with a phone about 5 years ago that had been collecting dust! They’ve got us through several months of working from home with multiple daily online meetings. If you have some fancy bluetooth ones, even better. Probably.


People playing Heal the World
Real life conferences can be interesting
Lab equipment showing a group of zeros
When the clock hits zero

If you don’t have camera or headphones, don’t worry – you can still type messages, and pretend you’re emailing your fellow attendees.

Once we’re all together, we’ll give you an introduction to how it all works. We’ll meet in a big central space, where it’s best to keep your camera off. Once we’re all done, you’ll go to your team’s breakout rooms. There, you’ll meet your new colleagues, find out a little about them and discuss your team’s tactics. Don’t spend too long, though – time is short, and it flies by.

Once you’ve got a plan, it’s time to explore the conference and see who you meet. What other teams are there? Who has what you want? How will you coordinate you and your crew? Keep an eye on the chat bar too – you never know what twists and turns might happen over the course of the game.

You’ll need to keep moving constantly, discussing and negotiating, checking back in with your team. Once the conference ends, we’ll all get back together and see how everyone did, as teams and as individuals.