Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Game

When a friend showed me this video, I was amazed. I love it. It's fresh, imaginative and seriously good. The Game jibes nicely with what Law Without Walls is trying to do. This is to take legal education away from the stodgy environment that it seems stuck in and that appears to have less relevance for the modern world.

The Dutch law firm, Houthoff Buruma, with games maker, Ranj Serious Games, have put together a game to be played by recruits to the firm (or anyone else for that matter--the game doesn't require legal knowledge). To quote Legal Current
The Game is a multimedia game specifically for law firm recruitment. The realistic, serious game is based on a fictive take-over deal of a Dutch family company by a Chinese state owned giant, and the players represent the Chinese company. Throughout, players are faced with video and text chats, film clips, emails, CNN new flashes, websites and more than 100 fictional documents to inform their counsel. 
The players get 90 minutes to persuade the shareholders to agree to sell. Each team of players must collaborate internally or else fail. Then they must present their results and justify their actions. It can be replayed withou the same result emerging.

Houthoff Buruma is aware that a stuffy brochure isn't the most effective recruiting tool anymore and that recognition of new forms of expression is essential to distinguish oneself. But there are other messages we can read from the video.

For me this is not so much that law firms need to grapple with new technologies and social media but for them to realize--which Houthoff Buruma does--that our modes of working, ie. separate spheres of work and leisure, have now collapsed into each other and actively embrace each other. These are not discrete moments in life. The combination of technology and interaction make them almost interdependent and inextricably linked.

Human resources departments, and maybe most law school faculty, haven't yet made this conceptual leap and like to consign activities to particular boxes appropriately labelled. If law firms, for example, continue to focus on billable hours as their key metric, they will continue to be entrapped by this mentality.

In fact, I would begin to argue that focussing mostly on the economics of work and organization creates hindrances to effective and imaginative approaches to labor. As long as economists see only capital, labor, and land, they miss the immaterial world which is now becoming predominant.

In order to counter the "economistic effect" we need more sociologists and anthropologists to study the world and tell us what is really happening. Because that's what this GAME is, a sociological experiment that tests ways of interacting across media, culture, and different expertises. This should have the potential to reshape law school and maybe therefore Law Without Walls is the conduit to this new era.



Rob Rosen said...

Way cool. I'd love to run my students through this. Will they license it?

Law student said...

Great idea, I would love to play