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The IG Game. Information Governance in Primary Care
The IG Game. Information Governance in Primary Care
Article Type: Resource review From: Records Management Journal, Volume 22, Issue 1
Focus Games Ltd,£125.00+VAT
Keywords: Information governance, Health care, NHS, General Practitioners, Games
Although this resource (a game) isn’t new it was new to us, perhaps because we do not work in the health sector, in particular the UK National Health Service. However, we are interested in information governance and, having used it we felt it would be useful to bring it to the attention of a wider audience, since it may be useful in its current form and the nature and design of it as a resource have potential value in other contexts/scenarios.
The IG Game is a scenario based board game which “was developed in collaboration with UK’s NHS Connecting for Health (HNS CFH) and is aimed specifically at GP practices. The IG Game is a self-contained easy-to-use learning and planning systems based on the requirements of the NHS CFH Information Governance Toolkit”1 which two of us critically evaluated as part of a research project2. The three of us approached playing the game without any prior reading or preparation and rapidly realised preparation was necessary.
The instructions for playing the game identify three types of roles for playing the game: a facilitator, a sponsor/manager and players. Since there were only three of us one member of the team with information management in the health sector context acted as the facilitator and the other two were the players. There was no independent sponsor/manager as such whose role is to help the facilitator set the objectives for playing the game. We didn’t set specific objectives other than to evaluate the game for potential use in training/education and development of other information management games.
The game comprises a board, dice, two sets of cards – scenario and wild cards – and a three minute sand timer. The board has a spiral marked into squares with the start on the outer rim; the team reaching the centre of the spiral first or the closest to it at the end are the winners. Team A (in our case one person) throws the dice and moves the appropriate number of squares. Squares are marked with either a question mark or the familiar comedy/tragedy masks which represent the wild card. Team B picks up a card from the appropriate pile (cards are placed face down) and reads the question to Team A. Our first question was a scenario one – “if someone asks to see information under the Freedom of Information Act what do you need to know?” Had our teams been more than one person then they would have discussed the question and developed their answer to give to the other team who, at the same time, are discussing the answer that is given on the card. They do this because they have to assess the playing team’s response and award marks. Marks of 2, 3 or 4 points are awarded depending on the number of “relevant answers” or points made by the playing team in response to the question. The playing team explain their answer to the questioning team who then read the answer on the card to them and decide how many points to award. The facilitator can help with the process and his/her word is final if there is any dispute.
In our case the person answering this question was very knowledgeable about FoI and had more practical experience of it than the person who was the other “team”. Her response was very impressive but matched less than half of the “answers” given on the card. Points were awarded, Team A moved forward that number of squares and Team B took their turn. In our case this team landed on a wild card square. We hadn’t thought about what the wild cards might be and the rules don’t explain them but they were general knowledge questions. Playing in a team there is more likely to be someone who knows the answer but the pressure on a single person to answer correctly and not display “ignorance” was felt!
We played the game for around an hour and completed four scenario questions and two wild card ones. Obviously we didn’t play it as it was designed but the experience we feel allowed us to evaluate it as a tool to use in the way it is intended to be used and as a “blueprint” for other scenarios.
The positive things/aspects of the game are that it is simple to understand and play; it engages both teams at all times, particularly in discussing the scenario questions, either in preparing a response or considering the response and awarding a score; the wild card questions are completely different to the scenario ones which is a helpful contrast; the and timer allows time to answer questions to be controlled.
The facilitator’s role and expertise is very important. The instructions say this person should be knowledgeable about the subject and “guide players towards a constructive series of discussions but not lead the discussions” nor “lecture” the players. This became apparent as we played the game. What also became clear was that preparation is important for both the facilitator and sponsor. Although a facilitator using the game in different scenarios will become very familiar with it, each scenario is likely to be slightly different and therefore setting the objectives with the sponsor is likely to be important each time.
Our main concern was the scenario questions and their answers, including a query about the accuracy of one answer. Some of them are not explicitly scenario-based and, while the answers on the card are important for the team asking the question, we found equally appropriate and good answers were given that were different to those on the card. Playing by the rules the points awarded then seemed low in relation to demonstrating knowledge and understanding of the question. Having the freedom to revise the scoring would be worth considering as one of the rules. In our discussion we felt that the context and objectives of the game were vital to establish and understand. For example, the ground rules might need to establish that all questions were to be considered in the players’ context, or given contexts. If the game were being played to raise awareness of the IG Toolkit then the questions and answers on the card might work well; if it were to test knowledge then an earlier presentation on it would be needed and, if the players were very knowledgeable, one could expect to need to handle good answers that were not given on the cards. Some questions might be more appropriate for some audiences than others.
There are some practical issues that help get the most from the experience. The setting is one – we placed the board on a table as per the instructions and sat around it, but allowing teams to move away for their discussion would be better. The order of the cards is another – we took them in the order provided as we did not want to read them in advance but the instructions say there is a broad pattern to the questions, some asking about the subject in the widest context and being relatively easy to answer, others more complex requiring more detailed discussion. Choosing which cards to use, based on time available and objectives, and their order are vitally important not only for learning but also to get the game moving quickly and, as the instructions say, so that players aren’t intimidated and the atmosphere is “light rather than serious.”
Dice based games have an element of luck but this game also has competitive elements – it can be seen as fun by some and can create pressure for others. Both emotions were felt at different times as we played it. But the benefits of playing this game are surely about learning and collaboration. Collaboration and competition need to be recognised and considered in setting the objectives and managing the game – the scoring could become divisive even with the “hand of the facilitator” and a “tit-for-tat”3 game strategy could develop.
Agreeing the rules, and any variations to those given with the game, setting the scene and sharing the purpose are all important if the outcome of the playing what is a simple game on the surface but a sophisticated one beneath it is to be a positive and valuable one. We can certainly see a range of uses in the future.
Sue Childs, , Elizabeth Lomas and Julie McLeodNorthumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
1. The IG Game www.focusgames.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=IG01
2. McLeod J, Childs S & Heaford S. (2007). Records management capacity and compliance toolkits: a critical assessment, Records Management Journal, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 216-232, See also final report at: www.northumbria.ac.uk/sd/academic/ceis/re/isrc/themes/rmarea/tlkit/
3. Tit-for-tat is an effective strategy used in the iterative prisoner’s dilemma game. When you first encounter a player you respond co-operatively; from then on you respond to them the way they previously responded to you, paying back co-operation with co-operation, or negative behaviour with negative behaviour. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tit_;for_;tat