The Village Game is a very powerful simulation to enter into the topic of nonviolent struggle. It is best to have a team of two or three facilitators for the exercise with three to six small groups or “villages.”
Click here for the facilitation guide from Training for Change.
There are three stages:
First, the drawing by each group of their “ideal village.” This could be a stand-alone tool to help people think about the kinds of communities they want. But in this case the drawings are a set-up for the real challenge in stage two. The villages draw, show their villages (proudly!) to each other, then refine their drawings for another minute or so. Encourage everyone in the group to participate, to get down on the floor and draw–make it everyone’s village!
Second, the facilitators change roles into representatives of a multinational corporation that begins offering benign “improvements” but gradually increases the threat to the village. The hidden task is to see how the villagers’ awareness changes and how resistance develops and grows.
Stop the game when it gets too rowdy, when the villagers “win,” or when the villagers are stuck in some sort of paralysis (this does happen sometimes). If the workshop participants get stuck with no success, suspend the game and debrief including brainstorming what could have been done. Then either invite them to act out some of their ideas in a short role play or use another tool to give them an experience of success to end the session.
In a normal debrief after exploring how people feel and letting the stories out, make a list of the specific actions that people took in the exercise (e.g., “sat on village,” “pushed away hands,” “tried to negotiate”). Then you can introduce the 5 Stages of Social Defense: 1) Shock, 2) Negotiation, 3) Individual Action, 4) Collective Action, 5) Moving from Defense to Offense. Note which actions on the group’s list correlate to the various stages.