The Game: Nine meals from anarchy?

In January 2018, we published our horizon scanning project report Back from the future. It highlighted the scale and urgency of the threats on our food supply system, and exposed the inability and/or lack of capacity within governments and other institutions to respond.

Throughout 2018, we were developing and piloting a scenarios-cum-war-game, now ready for delivery to organisations and government bodies involved directly or indirectly with planning and/or socio-political decision-making.

Its purpose is to strengthen the understanding of strategists in local and national government, and senior leaders in the food sector, about the threats to our food system system, and possible responses to them.

The Game
is played in groups of 4-6 Players. They can either play as a solo team, or with more groups who play either collaboratively following the same or different scenario stories, or in competition with each other.

The Players are in charge of a city. It is their responsibility to make decisions and undertake actions to protect their citizens’ access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food:







The Game has three rounds. The first takes place today, the second a mid-term future (five years’ time) and the third and final one a longer term future (tne years’ time).

All of the elements in the first round are data from reputable cited sources or events that have happened in the previous few months. We have a bank of foresight data and possible events for the future, again from reputable cited sources.

Our team represents the dark forces already threatening every city’s food network to some degree — climate change, resource depletion and population pressures and, if a client requests it, some of the responses to and mitigators of these forces.

There are a variety of way we can deliver The Game. For example:

As a series of Games running in parallel
On the 22nd November 2018, we invited 30 Players to participate in one of five Games, run simultaneously, and with different storylines to play out.

The Players included West Midlands police officers responsible for emergency planning, two City Councillors, economists, senior food sector business people (including a wholesale fruit’n’veg supplier, a senior manager from a supermarket HQ, a farmer, an agri-food lawyer, an agri-food insurance broker), a global ethicist with an interest in food security matters, people from Harper Adams, the Wellcome Trust and Global Food Security UK and the director and ops manager of the N8 Global Food Resilience Programme.

Context matters, as Kate Cooper explained in her introduction summarised in this blogpost. We also played this video, Strange New World to conclude the event.

It was a highly successful event, the outputs of which we’re still analysing. More about that to follow.


The Game as a scenarios workshop
The bank of relevant data and events we’ve garnered allows us to play out different scenarios.

We prefer to work in collaboration with a client to co-develop:

  • The storylines and scenarios which would benefit their organisation the most, in terms of content and in terms of the placing of The Game along a pessimistic-optimistic continuum.
  • The facilitation of the Players’ review of The Game, to include their emotional responses to playing it, and how the content and their responses to it are relevant to the work of the client organisation and the wider society.




The Birmingham Food Council is a Community Interest Company registered in England and Wales number 8931789
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