What is the Peasant Business School (PBS)?
The Peasant Business School is an economy focused board game for 12-30 players aged 12 and older. The game was developed by the MIK (the Małopolska Institute of Culture) in Krakow as an educational, training or integration tool for group work. The game is a simple simulation of free market mechanics where the following effects can be observed: supply, demand, trading partnerships, prices, manufacturing costs, trade negotiations among others. The game refers to the production and business activities performed by craftsmen from the Andrychów weaving centre in the 18th century.
More about the history of the Andrychów weaving centre, on the basis of which the game was created, can be found in the section Historical Inspiration.
What are the advantages of the game?
The unquestionable advantage of the Peasant Business School is that the game is played in real time, which enables direct interactions between participants and provokes emotional reactions and stimulates involvement. But what is most important – it teaches logical thinking and planning!
The atmosphere during the game was described by one of the participants:
„At the end of the game everyone was shouting over each other trying to sell their products at lower prices. Yet no one was able to buy anything. For some the game ended in victory, some were defeated. However, we were taught one important thing: no matter what you do, think!”.
The advantages of the game that were most frequently emphasised by users:
- when used during classes, it allows for the accomplishing of new core curriculum objectives,
- it is a useful tool for introducing basic economic terms,
- it allows for making classes more attractive,
- it constitutes a great tool for group integration,
- it shapes entrepreneurial attitudes in players,
- it creates a positive image of an entrepreneur,
- the theme of the game may be the impetus for players to become interested in local history,
- it teaches people how to conduct negotiations, take risks, cooperate in a group, establish business relations and how to be self-reliant,
- it develops creativity, innovation in action and a desire to take the initiative.
„A unique combination of a board game and a simulation game, an historical education and an economical, mathematical and geographical education.”.
The game is mainly used for practical education to promote entrepreneurship as well as to develop social competences among the players. The Peasant Business School engages the players’ emotions, encourages cooperation between players as well as allows for individual implementation of their own plans.
What does a Peasant Business School game look like?
The game is supervised by a moderator (e.g. a teacher, an instructor, a coach or a playworker) and it is intended for 12-30 people aged 12 and older. 45 minutes is sufficient to play the game.
Each player chooses to become one of the Andrychów artisans: a blacksmith, a baker or a weaver who manufacture and sell waggons, loaves of bread or flaxen fabrics. The role of a player is marked with a card – the identification of a craftsman hung around the neck. The aim of each player is to accumulate the largest amount of assets, counted in mountain gold pieces (the currency of the game) thanks to the business transactions conducted between players and the organisation of trade expeditions on the board (a map of Europe). The Peasant Business School is a real time game. During the game players manufacture, trade and at the same time organise trade expeditions. The game is based on the players’ interactions and decisions made individually or in two-person trading partnerships. The room where the game is played becomes a big fair. The players debate and conduct intensive negotiations. The player or the partnership that ends the game with assets of the greatest value wins the game.
“The game may have many variants and its course cannot be predicted.”
The game can be played in two versions – basic and advanced, which allows for organising the games for a wide range of players. This has been proven by the successful introduction of the game into schools, universities, libraries, cultural centres, museums and also commercial organisations and labour market institutions.
„The game not only teaches but is also a great tool for the integration of a group, even a multi-generational one.”.
The experience gained by pupils and adults during the game can serve as a basis for explaining the effects that appear in real economy (e.g. supply, demand, company, economic cluster) as well as for analysing players’ actions (e.g. the way they conduct trade negotiations or assessment of the implementation of a business strategy). Apart from its educational merits, the game is perfect for group integration, it increases energy levels and promotes cooperation but above all it brings fun!
“The historical background of the game provokes strong emotions, so the players do not stay passive. And that is what simulation games are all about, so that is another big plus for you.”
“The game itself makes you think.
– for the players…excitement…well, excitement is great
– for the service…when they take a look at the fair, they may feel dizzy
– for the observers…they can gain the most from it.
I think a good scientific paper can be written on the basis of the players’ behaviour. How the players cope, what nuances they have found in the rules and how they have coped with them, why some players do not notice obvious things (e.g. why they do not sell a useless helper or hire him out).”