Introduction

Overview: 

FSG2.2

See publication of this method here:

O Tchernichovski Ofer, S Frey, N Jacoby, D Conley (2021) Experimenting With Online Governance. Frontiers in Human Dynamics 

Ferry Service Game (FSG) is a framework for designing and conducting online virtual worlds experiments with social feedback. It is built for experimenting with distributed governance of common goods, pooled resources, and services. FSG experiments takes place in a 3D virtual world that places participants in scenarios where they can either work alone, cooperate, or free ride. It differs from simpler games such as 2x2 prisoner's dilemma and public goods games in the following manners:

1. It places participants in a rich, ecologically valid virtual environment that can be tailored to simulate specific real-world situations. It is not a cerebral game but rather a simulation of everyday interactions between people and services they need. At the basic level, participants work to earn coins (= real money) in virtual islands. They use ferry services to move between islands. Rating ferries and sharing information can potentially save them time (= more money). 

2. The virtual world can evolve and change during a prolonged game. For example, an experiment can continue to evolve over days (either with new or repeated recruitment of participants). The experimental design can allow enough time for culture to change during the game.

3. The game is design to include open ended layers of social interaction via controlled channels. The simplest game is a virtual world where a player interacts with services. On top of that, the game can include a layer of multiple worlds with different channels of interaction or information sharing, to which players can be assigned. Alternatively, players can be allowed to choose and select the worlds where they want to be after some experience. A third layer is communication channels that allows governance design to be incorporated. This governance layer can be as simple as a feedback driven allocation of resource to certain services, or it may include arbitrary complex layers of governance tools. 

With this system one can experiment with different types social feedback, aiming at improving the utility of feedback and improve collective decisions. 

FSG is programmed in Unity and the source code is freely available for non profits (GNU public license. It provides the experimenter with tools for easily design experiments of arbitrary level of complexity.

Out of the box, several types of experiments can be design simply by selecting menu options in the game designer (see demo here): 

Once you are happy with the settings, just save those in the Unity editor and start working on higher levels of design such as building an array of different virtual worlds and design a logic of player experience and interactions in these worlds. 

We suggest you next try manipulating the lowest level game features via this link: http://u311.org/FerryServiceGame/