A prototype of First Responders, a game designed to help children talk about disasters and how they could respond if and when they needed to.

A prototype of Arts for Survival, a live action role play game (LARP) designed to help integrate survivors of sex trafficking into mainstream society.

GAME DESIGN

Game design is the art of applying design, aesthetics, and mechanics to create a game in order to facilitate interaction between players for entertainment, or for educational or experimental purposes. It can be applied both to physical games and to other interactions as well. Game design creates goals, rules, and challenges, which set boundaries and enable players to enter alternate realities, and to approach difficult subjects in ways that they would not have been able to otherwise.

 

In the field of social work, we try to create safe spaces with clients in casework, and with groups in group therapy work. There are a number of ways to do this including co-creating rules between the individual or the individuals in a group, and making sure that the roles of the people in the room are clear and understood. It is done by creating boundaries, facilitating open communication, and by “meeting a client where they’re at.”  When applying these social work principles to design, we can begin to create media that enables interactions that are only possible in these safe spaces. For example, board games have a different set of rules than everyday life; when one is playing a game, he or she knows that it is okay to act a certain way, as long as it is within the confines of the rules set out for that game. Board games set boundaries in ways that other in-person interactions cannot. Live Action Role Play games (LARPs), are games that allow for a person to take on a different persona and act in a particular way, without having to worry about being judged or mocked by those around them. There are rules within LARPs that are set in order to make sure participants feel safe as well; for example, players are not allowed to touch each other at all while playing a LARP.

 

I have designed the mechanics and aesthetics of card games, board games, LARPs, and improvisation and ice breaker games. These games were designed to set the tone of various spaces, using the game to allow for an increased feeling of safety, often simultaneously building empathy .

 

PROJECTS USING GAME DESIGN:

• THE NO BARRIERS PROJECT

• CRITICAL CREATURE CARDS

• FIRST RESPONDERS