Musical chairs as a commons

This game adapts “musical chairs”, the children’s game, to introduce the basic concepts of the commons

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The game mainly consists of two parts. There is a third part for more advanced groups:

  • In the first part, matching the traditional musical chairs version, participants position themselves around chairs placed in a circle. One chair less than the number of participants. When the music starts, participants dance around the chairs until, without warning, the music stops. They rush to sit on the chairs and the one who failed to sit is expelled from the game. The process continues with a chair removed each round. A short discussion follows each round of the game, activating participants’ critical thinking about excluding group members.
  • In the second act of the game, the process is repeated, but this time no participant is expelled when the music stops. Instead, all players are invited to collaborate and share the “resource”, the available chairs. Again discussions take place after each round, focusing on the experience of sharing a common resource.
  • For the third act of the game, participants split into sub-groups and select a real world scenario concerning a community facing a problem of scarce resources. They discuss potential community rules for the co-management of the resource.

A detailed account of our experience through developing and implementing various iterations of the game can be found here.

Game adaptation by Alekos Pantazis. Drawing courtesy of Tonia Vita.