Socially Responsible Gaming

The issues discussed in the liberal arts classrooms are complex, but much of their core ideas can be communicated through simple exercises. The concept of privilege is simply taught to a group of five-year-olds through asking them to shoot paper into the trashcan at the front of the room while seated alphabetically in different rows.1 The point is communicated: it’s easier to make the shot from different positions that were unearned by the individual. Similarly, the fundamental and paradigmatic assumptions within board games have great potential to be these small points of intervention on the target audience of the board game playing population. It is inarguable that advanced academic literature is inaccessible to the majority of the population. The existing pipeline for academic theory involves a multi-generational struggle for information to flow from the ivory tower to the popular discourse. What if we could communicate existing theses with scholarly consensus through choices about how we develop the mechanics of gameplay? No one would say that playing a board game would stand in for the education that the academy provides, but it surely can start the conversation. Regarding the existing literature, the project will take into account learnings from seminal texts about socially responsible game design from Mary Flanagan’s Critical Play: Radical Game Design and Josh Lerner’s Making Democracy Fun: How Game Design Can Empower Citizens and Transform Politics. In terms of data collection, the project involves interviewing and surveying students across disciplines and from diverse personal backgrounds. This will be the methodology for determining what points of theoretical intervention will be communicated via the structure of the game. Further, I’m interested in pursuing an alternative definition of research that doesn’t necessarily ask for the production of new frames of information, but rather calls for the application of existing theory into accessible formats to audiences that perhaps haven’t been exposed to advanced academic language and top-tier social science journals. That is the intent of this presentation. 1 BuzzFeed did a video on this in 2014.

Student Creator:

Arianna Montero-Colbert:  Arianna Montero-Colbert is a junior at Davidson College. Her academic interests live in the intersection of digital methodologies and a sociological mode of inquiry. Since the fall of 2016, she has worked on instructional design, content curation, and course facilitation at TechChange— a DC-based elearning platform. While most of her past projects involve explorations into digital pedagogy, she has always been invested in the ways that games serve as a vital tool of socialization regarding the implicit norms and values in our society. After winning Davidson College’s Avinger Scholarship, Arianna is proud to present her work at UNRH 2018, most notably, her foray into the design and development of a cooperative board game.