How have you used gaming to create or serve community?

Supporter

I've a keen interest in using boardgames or pen-and-paper RPGs to build up new communities or serve existing ones. For example, RPGs for formerly incarcerated people or adults with developmental disabilities. Or bringing a latent community of youth who don't otherwise know each together using board games.

How have you folks have done this, or how you imaging doing it?

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Supporter12 months ago

The only contributions I've had are donating copies of games I produced to schools. I'd love to have more of an impact through supporting existing organizations since it's not an area I'm an expert in.

Supporter12 months ago

Thanks for the input, trentellingsen. Teachers are often clamouring for good materials that are outside what the system prescribes. I know a French language teacher who uses Werewolf as a way for her students to practice. No doubt the schools you supported were most grateful.

What games have you produced?

EDIT: I didn't realize that you're the creator of this entire website. Should I feel awkward?

Supporter12 months ago

Are there specific games that schools are generally looking for? 

Supporter12 months ago

In the case of the French language teacher, she needed something that supported enough people and required reading and speaking in French. Werewolf fit the description because it can support lots of folks and the narrator has a key job of communicating in a clear, effective way to make sure everyone is on the same page. Specific classes have specific needs, and thinking outside the box on how to meet those needs -- Werewolf isn't a game about language, but it happens to use language -- is key.

But not every school/teacher uses games in the classroom like that. As sdirrane mentions below, there is also the opportunity to form groups that are unplugged and use the school/games as an avenue to create social capital. At that point there are questions of whether something is appropriate to the age and the culture of a given school.

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12 months ago

On Tuesday I taught SushiGo! to 8 people in a local senior center. We quickly had 16 people sign up. I bought enough games and was ready to go.... the day was cold and two people backed out because of the weather. Some others just didn't show up. It ended up with two full 4 top tables of senior game players. I put some gentle Japanese music on in the background. I talked for a few minutes about the brain and plasticity. Then I began teaching. I had large printouts of the different types of cards for display. I had a friend help with scoring. I used a sample scoring sheet, which I made for each player. After explaining the different types of cards we played one sample round and they scored themselves for that round. I think that really helped them learn the game. I had each player take on a responsibility, e.g. gather the cards after each round, deal the cards, shuffle the cards and help with scoring. I think that really helped and kept them involved and feeling useful. I taught them to choose their card, place it face-down on the table in front of them, raise their hand when ready and when I designated, to REVEAL their card and PASS their remaining cards. I removed the chopsticks cards which made it easier for everyone. I think they did fantastic and were able to play on their own within one hour and 15 minutes. It must have been successful - they asked me back! I'm open to hearing your suggestions. 

12 months ago

This is awesome and inspiring. Keep up the good work!

Supporter12 months ago

Fantastic. You put in a lot of thoughtful work, and it paid off. Plus, what a great choice using a card game with clear images and iconography. You served those folk well, and put us lesser mortals to shame.

Does anyone in your group struggle with any degree of dementia or the like? That's an extraordinary challenge in some groups, though I've usually encountered it in assisted living type settings.

As far as suggestions: If it were me I'd find out what they enjoyed about SushiGo! and take it from there. That said, my experience has been that cards and dice are safe choices because they're familiar. Would Dixit be appropriate for the group? Or maybe a roll-and-write of some kind?

12 months ago

How sharp of you to notice that the iconography is important, to make it easy for the players. Their senses are naturally used to discern colors, so clarity of the colors is important to help the brain to differentiate. Using definitive colors can be helpful for people with vision deficits too. Carefully choosing, colors and iconography in games can provide more ease in creating new neural pathways. 

I don't think that any of the 8 people who played SushiGo with us had dementia. I have worked amongst some dementia seniors in the past. I think that I can serve the pre-dementia person better. Having said that, I've noticed that many people exhibit mental challenges in their behaviors. I work with their strengths as much as possible.

Thanks for your suggestions. Yes, I could have asked them about WHAT they liked about SushiGo! I asked them IF they liked it, not WHAT they liked about it. Thanks for the tip!

I think that cards and dice games are good, although dice sometimes fall off the table. I would have them throw the dice into some sort of container with sides to minimalize the problem. I especially like the idea of tile placement games for them. I'm still thinking about that.

From my viewpoint, Dixit would be somewhat appropriate but I think the game depends upon the players opinions and memories and I stay away from "memory games". I attempt to stay away from reusing pre-patterned thoughts. So, Dixit, for fun - great! Not so much for the brain benefit. It's not much fun if a person struggles with it. However, they may use both for different purposes.

I think that roll-and-write would be very good as long as the thinkie math scoring isn't too troublesome. Another type of game that I want to check into has Tetris like shaped pieces. I'm not sure about Patchwork, I haven't looked into it yet, to see it's value. Please suggest any colorful low stress games. I'd love to look into them and possibly add them into my collection or my wish list. 

We're all mere mortals and I suspect we need to find new ways to support one another in making forward strides.

Thanks!



Supporter12 months ago

I'm happy I had a tip for someone who has such obvious experience and deep thinking about this. Do you have specific training/education with this kind of thing, or is it a labour of love? Either way, I'd like to learn more about how you determine which games will exercise the brain more than others.

Tile placement. That makes a lot of sense. Now to track one down that isn't super mathy, eh?

There's a (semi)Tetris-like roll-and-write(ish) called Catacombs Cubes (from the makers of Catacombs). It's not even out yet, so I have no idea if it's any good, but it might fit the bill. Blueprints has people building patterns with dice.

Supporter12 months ago

This sounds awesome! Great work!

12 months ago

Thanks!

Supporter12 months ago

Wow. That sounds great. Playing games like that is an excellent activity for seniors. I've gone to some senior centers and played cards or bingo with them, just to show them that somebody still cared about them. But I never considered taking other games. I don't know why. 

12 months ago

Caring is a big factor! Now your caring has opened you to consider the next level of gaming with them ~ yes!

Supporter12 months ago

Not for now. I'm living in a different country without things like senior centers that I know of. Maybe when I am in a place that I can do that again, I will. 

Supporter12 months ago

Now that's preparation. Sounds like you had all of the right ideas going in and was highly considerate towards your target audience. Awesome job!

Have you had experience with that group before? What are other games you are thinking of bringing out?

12 months ago

Thanks so much!

This type of thread is getting me confused, I may have already responded to this, but hey, I'm here - I'll write more.

I thought I already wrote that I'm considering the game Iota. It has cards and colorful, shapes and forms, etc. It may take up a bigger than average tabletop - so I'm not sure yet. I also wonder what music to use with it and can sue some suggestions. 


Supporter12 months ago

We've played at a local game café for Extra Life (with extra raffles, and donating items to be raffled).

We attended a community game night held at our local library, and brought/taught some games (Sapphiro was a big hit hit, because it has simple rules and the gems look great on the table). We donated some games to the library for them to add to their games shelf/have for the next game night.

Supporter12 months ago

I'd never heard of Extra Life before. I figured something like it must exist, but wasn't sure how to begin looking for one. Thanks so much for the tip. How did you arrange that with the gaming cafe?

When you say "we", do you mean an established gaming group? Your family? Or perhaps you're using the Royal We?

It sounds like you've found table presence to be a big deal when it comes to introducing games to potential non-gamers. I'm not someone who is drawn to visuals right away, so you've helped me re-realize a blind spot I have when it comes to setting up events for others.

Supporter12 months ago

We = my husband and I. The game café arranged the day, so I don't know exactly how they signed up. They announced it as an upcoming event and we brought in some things for the raffle.

A related site that came to mind is the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund (Jack was the son of Tom Vasel). They hold auctions every year, with hundreds of donations from designers and publishers, but also regular people, and raise money to help people in the gaming community who need help:

https://www.jackvasel.org/

Supporter12 months ago

Thanks for yet more information to check out. Fantastic.

12 months ago

I work in the children's room of a library and I've convinced them to build up a little collection of board games.  I have put some out on display and am happy that they are catching on and folks are starting to use them.  Sometimes I'll set one up on a table so folks notice that we have them to play!

Supporter12 months ago

God bless you for working in a library. I don't know about where you live, but as some institutions here start to lose their ability to engage the community, libraries are trying to fill the gap. Either way, thank you for your work.

I've imagined that a main objection to keeping board games is lost or destroyed pieces. Did that come up? How did you respond?

12 months ago

Libraries are definitely a valuable resource in communities!  I don't think all people realize that when they are quick to cut them out of the town budgets.  I am just there part-time, but I liken it to social work or a bartender sometimes without the alcohol!  Sometimes folks just need a friendly ear to listen to them.  :-)  I am in Maine.

We don't allow people to check out the games and take them home, although a neighboring library DOES allow that.  I would worry about destroyed pieces too, but I guess you could charge folks for damaged games like we do for damaged books and other materials.  Game companies have all been wonderful when I was cleaning up our collection and asking for replacements for missing pieces.  No one charged me to send me replacements!

Supporter12 months ago

Good to know that not all companies are trying to squeeze public libraries dry.

My family agrees that it's a lot like social work, especially in certain cities and neighbourhoods. Our closest public library has a regular who comes in -- clothed in various stages sometimes -- and yells about how society is all a lie. Moments like that really separate the library workers who see their job the way you do, and those who see it at just another gig.

What games have you found work in that type of setting? My wife has mused about this, and she wall she runs into is teaching people how to play so they can actually, ya know, enjoy the games. You mentioned you're part-time. When you're there, do you teach? When you're not, what happens?

12 months ago

I picked out games that would be pretty easy to learn and ones for various age groups.  So for example, Zingo for 4-5 year olds, Qwirkle for 5-8 year olds, and Ticket to Ride and Kingdomino for 8-12 year olds.  I have them sorted by age on the shelves and on the signs.  I will usually set up Zingo or Qwirkle and have it set up with examples on the table so folks can see how it works and keep going with it.  I tell folks I'm happy to teach them, but usually they just read the rules themselves and go.  I have also dome something like set up the game Set at the checkout desk where I am and show people how to play as they're checking out.

When I'm not there, I'm sure people just teach themselves!  The other workers aren't familiar with the games like I am.

Supporter12 months ago

Do you know the user response in the neighboring library that does permit the checking out of games? Do people check them out? 

12 months ago

Yes, it is a popular program that keeps growing and collecting games. They are a much larger town and a college town, so they have more money to spend than we do. 

12 months ago

I like to share the love of gaming, so every year on our around International Tabletop Day my wife and I hold a board game party. We set up a a few extra tables in our home, clean off our kitchen's island (the one time each year), and have people over to play and learn games. We also hold a drawing and give away games so people have something to take home. It's something fun we can do, and it's a good way to get to know people we wouldn't otherwise spend time with.

Supporter12 months ago

Good on you, BenjaminK. The big question for me -- a hardcore introvert with an epic level imposter complex -- is how to get the word out to people. Are those who attend already friends and family? Either way, how do you make your pitch that joining you and your wife would be better than Netflix? I'd appreciate any insight you have.

12 months ago

Yeah, the people are friends and family that live nearby. We invite neighbors through our neighborhood Facebook group and people from our church from our church's Facebook group. Basically I make a FB event and invite everyone to that. I talk it up in the description and mention there will be free game giveaways (depending on what I have on hand) and snacks and that all are welcome. People who come always have a great time and suggest doing it more often, which is something we hope to do. It took a few years to get a good turnout to fill our home, but then we moved a year ago so we're starting from scratch again haha I post pictures of some good-looking games (i.e. games with good table presence ) so  it looks appealing. This year we had about 8 or 9 show up, all of which being from our church. But it was nice, because I got to know them better and they're people I hadn't had a chance to get to know yet, so it worked out nicely.