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  • Writer's pictureMats Paulsen

Fika wants to break criminal mindsets – with a game

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

Serious criminals rarely change course and become law-abiding. So-called defector programs, criminal and probation systems do not succeed in changing criminal mindsets. The Fika Project is now trying create a playful method to bridge gaps between criminals, legal and rehabilitation chain actors. A game where all can see each other's perspective.

But first, briefly about the situation in Sweden. So far this year, 279 people have been shot. Approximately a doubling compared to 2021 and a very high level by EU standards. Few of the gang shootings are solved. But in the recent year many have been caught for drug offenses. Yet the gangs are growing, despite new funds for the police, more coercive measures and tougher punishments.

Even the experts don't understand why. The Crime Prevention Council writes:

"A reasonable conclusion is that the increase in Sweden may be about a special group dynamic in the criminal environment, where shootings trigger each other. Why such a dynamic has arisen in Sweden is today largely unclear."

Break the bubbles

Understanding dynamics and group identities is part of The Fika Project. The aim is to try to understand each other better to bridge and bond between closed groups (bubbles).

The criminals are tightly enclosed in a bubble with strong identities, their own rules and values. They despise the "white life", its rules and values. We outside their bubble, on the other hand, do not understand how someone can be so immoral, violent and unempathetic.

Big challenge to break silos

After interviews with the police, social services, correctional services, companies and non-profits, we see that they do not always understand each other either. Everyone we met says the biggest challenge they face is breaking down silos between each other to collaborate better.

The inability to bridge between these silos causes them to "lose" criminals. Clients do not understand what is going on and feel let down. They reoffend during the time they are shuttled between the police, correctional services, social services, defector programs, attempts to get an education or a job.

Playful approach to a serious situation

Fika is now developing the board and app game "The Criminal Mind". The players are thrown between the world of drugs and crime, the family, social services, the police and the correctional service. It is a playful attempt to approach a big problem.

The game becomes a platform to see different perspectives. The easily offended gang members, the longing for respect,, the lack of trust, drugs, money, girls, music. The correctional and rehabilitation chain's different views and ways of working. The game will be surprising and fun enough to be played in schools, prisons, social service offices and police stations.

The simple thesis The thesis is that the more people who understand the identity and group dynamics of "the others", the greater the chance of changingcriminal mindsets. Fika is happy to exchange experiences on this. As always.

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