During 2023 I will be running a games project looking at democracy. Essentially, this is a way to create one or two (or even three) simple card games about democratic themes.
I’m not planning to create primarily educational games or workshop exercises. These games will be fun and commercially viable, with a single, simple message which encourages players to think positively about democracy.
In order to help me with this, I am looking for up to ten people to be on the design team. These people should:
- have some connection to a democracy organisation in the UK
- be able to attend between three and six meetings online during January-March 2023 (dates TBC)
- be willing to work within the confines of a small game
How would this work? It will be similar to the model used for a game-creation partnership with one organisation…but with a team of people, instead of just a couple of us.
We would meet every fortnight for three months towards the start of 2023. I would try to arrange the dates around people, and it may be that we divide into smaller groups which have separate meetings. It may also be that six meetings isn’t enough, and we continue the design stage into April. However, I am asking every person to commit to at least three meetings.
The games we create will be small, simple, and single-issue.
In this context, “small” means card games, race games, or roll & write games. That’s partly because we want to design, test, and produce it in six months. It’s also because professionally printed boards and wooden pieces are not produced in the UK. Sticking to cards or similar formats which can be printed locally will reduce stress for all of us.
These will be simple games because our audience is the general public. We want people to pick up a game and enjoy it immediately. Although many experienced board gamers prefer to delve into a complex world, our target market is neither lovers of heavy games nor democracy experts. We’re looking at a small product which your supporters (who are likely to be very interested in democracy) want to buy for their friends and family, or which more experienced gamers use as a light filler game.
Each game will be based around a single, straightforward issue. Perhaps a game could focus on the phrase “Citizen of Nowhere”? Perhaps a game will be about the unfairness inherent in our voting system? The themes have yet to be decided.
If you’d like an example of the type of game format I’m thinking about, then I recommend taking a look at these three Kickstarters:
- Aquamarine, from Postmark Games (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/postmarkgames/aquamarine)
- Spies, from No Box Games (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/noboxgames/spies)
- A number of different games, from Bez (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bybez/games-about-stuff)
So, we design a couple of games as a group. What happens then?
After three months we’ll be ready to playtest our games and to add artwork. We could take partly-finished versions to board game conventions (AireCon is mid-March, for example), or visit playtest groups, or playtest online. I’ll lead this part of the project, although obviously it would be great to have people to help. And it’s at this stage of the process that I’ll put the game on Kickstarter. If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, then it’s a crowdfunding platform which let’s people pre-order a product. I would run the Kickstarter process, as well as the logistics around manufacturing and posting.
It’s likely that the project would make a small profit, which we would divide fairly between the organisations participating. (For a very rough estimate, see the last section of the campaigning games section.) Throughout the project we’d be able to share stories and pictures of our progress. Making a game can provide some excellent social media content, and you could use this to engage with your own supporters. We’ll have to discuss whether you wanted your logo on the game – personally I’d be keen to have this as a joint project between several different groups, but if some people just wanted to take part as individuals then I’m sure that’s possible.
If you think you’d be interested in being one of the game designers on this project, please do drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be setting up a zoom meeting to discuss the idea with interested people towards the end of November.