“A game is a particular way of looking at something, anything.” – Clark C. Abt, Serious Games

This game design workshop based on iterative design — a play based design process emphasizing playtesting and prototyping. We use this model specifically because it is not possible to fully anticipate play in advance, and it is never possible to completely predict the experience of a game. For peacebuilders interested in using games as a vehicle to achieve peacebuilding goals, they will need a clear understanding of underlying benefits and challenges of game development, and how to utilize fundamental game design concepts.

Through play, critical discussion, and prototyping exercises, this workshop will provoke participants to think about several questions:

  • Why are games so engaging and what gives them potential to be strong tools for peacebuilding?
  • How do I recognize meaningful play, and how do I identify which structures I should focus on for creating a game with impact?
  • What are core game design tools, and how can they be utilized for designing an impact game?
  • How do I articulate the goals of my game within the context of game design?
  • How could I implement a game within my peacebuilding program and my theory of change?
  • This workshop takes a play-based approach in attempt to broaden the discussion of games in peacebuilding, and peacetech specifically. Previous workshops briefly skim the surface of concept generation and discussions of prior art and accessible tools, but few resources exist that actually give peacebuilders hands-on experience with the game design process, which is a wholly different exercise. An argument can be made that hands-on experience is essential if a peacebuilder intends to use games as part of their toolkit.

    In broad strokes, this workshop consists of the following parts:

      Start with a brief introduction to games (10 minutes)
      Play simple game with limited social engagement in small groups (35 minutes)
      Critical discussion about the game experience, especially as related to peacebuilding and impact objectives (15 minutes)
      Introduction of game design concepts (15 minutes)
      Return to the original game with the original groups, and build a modified prototype to achieve a stated impact goal. Playtest and iterate as time allows (100 minutes)
      Groups swap games and run game for new players (25 minutes)
      Ending with presentation of final products and discussion of opportunities and difficulties found in the game design process (30 minutes)