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Design Board Games for Socio-Political Change

Foster and support important social and political change through innovative board game design.

Two people sitting on chairs on the concrete ground, leaning over a wooden board playing a game together.
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Turn social events into social change with board games that engage and educate

Board games naturally support social interaction, and are often a reflection of a culture’s values and beliefs. They also happen to be one of today’s fastest-growing hobbies.

With all that in mind, it makes sense that playing board games can affect what individuals think about important issues. And it follows that these games have the power to foster political and social change.

On this three-week course from the renowned Abertay University School of Design and Informatics, you’ll gain skills to analyse the use of board games in socio-political debates and learn how to develop your own game design concept.

Deconstruct and understand the basics of board games

Before you start working on games for social change you’ll learn the fundamentals, processes,and techniques of good design.

You’ll play, analyse, and deconstruct existing games that were developed to benefit society, and will see their potential as a way to encourage activism for political change, climate action, and other important causes.

Create the social and political change you want to see

Once you understand the theory behind producing board games that encourage socio-political reforms, you’ll get a chance to do it yourself.

Not only will you get to develop your own concepts, but you’ll also gain extra insights from the constructive feedback that you get from and give to your peers.

Learn from the best board game design experts

The School of Design and Informatics at Abertay University is the United Kingdom’s Centre of Excellence for Computer Games Education.

Their award-winning courses are widely renowned, and you’ll get to take advantage of all this expertise and support as you create board games to make the world a better place.

Syllabus

  • Week 1

    Intro to Games for Change - Play

    • Course overview

      In this activity we will introduce ourselves and outline what we will be teaching on this course.

    • Understanding Games for Change

      In this activity we will look at what games for change actually are with Hadi then interview two games researchers who use games to effect real-world change.

    • Let's play some Games for Change

      The best way to learn about games for change is to play them. In this activity we play a game and discuss it before inviting you to play and analyse some games yourself.

    • Summary of this week

      In this activity we review what we have learnt this week.

  • Week 2

    Analysing games we play - Deconstruct

    • Analysing Games and Play

      In this activity we begin our investigation of how games are constructed we are going to introduce a framework for analysing game design and talk about the act of playing. We also speak to Tim Cullings about games for change.

    • What Goes Into A Game?

      In this activity we look at the makeup of games, specifically what games are and what goes into them. We investigate some game mechanics and invite you to carry out some independent research.

    • How do we immerse our players?

      In this activity we look at how we can bring players into our game worlds and allow them to inhabit the characters involved so we can best deliver our game's message.

    • Narrative Design

      A key feature of games are the stories they tell. In this activity we look at how to effectively tell stories through games.

    • Summary

      In this activity we look back at all that was learnt in week 2 and review the key content.

  • Week 3

    Bringing it all together - Conceptualise

    • Intro to week 3

      In this activity we will be reviewing weeks 1 and 2, outlining the plan for week 3 and discussing the ethics of games for change, including a chat with technology ethicist Catherine Flick and local developer Darroch McNaught.

    • Game design peer review

      In this activity you will create your own game for change. Then you will review the work of your peers. But first, we give a demonstration of how we would go about it.

    • In summary

      Final remarks

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Demonstrate the application of skills to classify, analyse and deconstruct games
  • Explore and reflect on the wider social, political and cultural aspects of games
  • Explore the potential of games as powerful media to foster discussion and debate
  • Collaborate with peers to develop constructive feedback on games
  • Develop documents that transform ideas into game design concepts

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in board game design, especially as a tool to create political or social change. No prior knowledge is required, but a genuine love of board games will make the course even more enjoyable and meaningful.

Who will you learn with?

Director of Development (Future Learning) at Abertay. Background in schools as well as local and national government.

Interested in the spaces where learning, teaching, assessment and technologies meet

I teach progamming and design of computer games at Abertay. I am a critical designer and my research is about player-avatar relationships, big-data and gameplay surveillance.

Charly works as the InGame International Project Coordinator, Founder and Project Lead of the Kilted Otter Initiative, an Indigenous language research-based game jam both at Abertay University.

Computer Science and Game Design lecturer at Abertay University

Who developed the course?

Abertay University

Abertay is a global leader in computer games education.

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