This is one of the themes in the Small Game Big Theme game jam, which is running from 21 May until 21 June 2021. Find out about the other themes here or read more about the jam as a whole.

Can you create a small game around the theme of Representation?

The theme: Representation

This theme was suggested by two different people. While there was much overlap, there were also differences in their approach.

Diverse representation is an important way to help combat discrimination, and in helping marginalized people feel safer and more accepted in the world. It covers both the main focus (such as the main character in a film or book) and the background (such as the supporting characters). How can we reach beyond either tokenism or making diversity itself the main theme? How can we make diversity the norm?

One suggestion is about picture books. Can you create a habit forming or awareness raising game for illustrators, publishers and editors so they ‘see’ the dearth of representation of disabled, gender non conforming and BIPOC main and incidental characters. It’s even rare to see a kid drawn as left handed in a picture book, or one with a hearing aid, yet these are pretty common traits you might see among a group of kids in a playground, classroom, or family birthday party. Usually it is ‘issue-based’ books that represent characters across the full spectrum of ability, race, class or gender – and that this is the focus of the book. Can a game encourage people (illustrators, publishers and editors) to make the background characters both factual and fiction books for kids more diverse?

Another suggestion is about inclusion in the process. It is important that marginalized people are consulted or even better yet part of the creative process to ensure that depictions are not offensive or reinforce harmful stereotypes. Inaccurate representation can cause damage to people and communities. Accurate representation can help people with their own identity – particularly for LGBTIAQ+ folk, some of whom might not realize that they are gay, lesbian, trans, intersex, asexual, or a-romantic if they never see people like themselves represented accurately in popular media. Can a game encourage decision makers to include a wide range of people right at the start of any process?

With both these suggestions, can a game create a habit, so that that person will automatically do that in the future – so that it is ordinary to include a wide range of people? How could it deal with decision makers feeling defensive about being called out? How confrontational should it or could it be?

READ PDF here:

What sort of game should you create?

The game should be small. It should be small enough that it can be posted through the mail as a letter, not as a parcel. That could mean:

  • A social deduction game with no physical components
  • A postcard or a greetings card
  • A deck of (around) 20 or fewer cards
  • A printable roll and write

It’s OK to ask the players to add some components if they are things which you’d reasonably expect to find in most houses. That could mean:

  • A calculator
  • Six sided dice (there are also dice rolling apps online)
  • Coins to flip
  • Pen and paper
  • A packet of sweets/candy (such as jellybeans)

How to get involved

If you’d like to create a game, please just jump in! You don’t need any sort of credentials to get started!

Take photos of what you’re creating and share them on Twitter using the hashtag #smallgamebigtheme. If you remember to copy in @dissentgames then we will retweet. Please do share on all sorts of other social media too.

If you’d like to chat about what you’re creating then please head over to our discord server. There are some empty channels waiting to be claimed with games in progress.

On 21 June we’ll draw the game jam to a close. (Obviously that doesn’t mean you need to stop designing!) We’ll ask the people who submitted the themes for some feedback on what people have made. A few people have volunteered to speak about the games made on blogs, podcasts, or streams, so there may be opportunities to talk about what you’ve created.

Come and join in!

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