On the 4th of February Youth Association DRONI together with Emotic Ngo started the professional development activity named “Reinforcing Games as an Educational Tool for Social Change”.
The project aimed to support the development of a sense of belonging among youths to enhance their social inclusion and empowerment through innovative instruments such as board games as an involvement tool of young people in youth organizations and society and initiating dialogue with them through training youth workers to develop table-top games with educational and social value.
The project brought 27 young people from Austria, Estonia, Croatia, Georgia, Armenia, and Ukraine with the aim to connect youth workers and youth leaders with the world of board games and introduce them to the inclusive characteristics of board games and their social benefits.
The second day of the project was really busy and engaging. From the very morning, various team-building activities were proposed by the trainers to the team in order to get to know each other better and light on closer. The second part of the day was mostly dedicated to discussions about social inclusion, how different countries address the following issues or what kind of tools and methodologies do they use to achieve social integration. Opinions and thoughts were coming from the participants and we can say that it was quite diverse, but at the same time, some similarities came across between a few countries about governmental methods assessing inclusive approaches.
Later on, we dig deeper into the values of the board games, their creative strategies, and their importance for social inclusion, and of course, it was demonstrated the basic important aspects for the board game creation, which will be, obviously, help participants for the upcoming days.
What mostly makes it catch on quickly?
Of course, the intercultural evening or we just call it – ”Multi-Culti”! Austria, Estonia, Croatia, Georgia, Armenia, and Ukraine represented their countries, culture, and food together with sharing some nice and interesting facts about their countries and people. The goal of the second day was successfully accomplished!All of the participants were collaborative, productive, and motivated to explore and learn more.
The third day of the project was very immersive. We finally started the phase of playing and testing actual board games. In the morning activity, the trainers introduced us to the board games developed during various projects and training. Some of the games were developed in 24 hours and some took months, but we did not know which was which. We got to play two different games each. The first game was based on creativity and fast thinking, meanwhile, the second one was about internet safety and contained information about, how to protect your data on the web.
After the break, we started with a fun energizer, called princess and the castle. Second part of the training started off with us separating into groups and getting a popular board game, but with a twist. First, we got introduced to the original game and its specifics and then we had to come up with a way to moderate the game in a way, that makes it educational and tackles a social issue. We worked in two phases and came up with the new versions of the original games. The next part of the agenda, was us playing each other’s newly modified games and it was very fun and interesting. In the end, we got to give feedback to the participants and also receive some about our own games. This gave us the opportunity to form the Dos and Don’ts of developing the board games, which we then discussed with the trainers.
After the official part of the day, we hosted a board game night and played lots of different games, that gave us new ideas and inspiration and also brought us closer.
On the fourth day, the morning began with the study of principles and steps of game development. This included the information about the game design timeline. After participants got the main possible topics for games (we could add some more) we were asked to go to the topic that we were interested in the most.
Afterward, three main questions were introduced to us and we had to answer them with our group members. As soon as we all finished our work it was time to choose the target group and it was necessary to analyze what we think might be the views of the representatives of our target group according to the questions we have chosen on the topic again with the group. We were able to see all of the main points of each group’s topic so that we could freely decide and made sure that we felt comfortable and really interested in the topic. Also, the fun part was that we could pick wisdom, game master, and „little Frodo “cards like which one did we consider ourselves the person who has education or experience with the topic, or the one who is really good in creating games and the one who wants to explore. Afterward, we have created groups with 2, 3, 4, 5 members.
The next stage was for us as a group to agree on how we preferred to collaborate with one another, which made it simpler to maintain a pleasant and motivating environment. We were able to begin writing establishing learning objectives and dynamics brainstorming papers once we completed that activity. Our next assignment was for each member of the group to complete out the idea’s worksheets, which came in helpful during the group discussion about which one would be the best one to choose.
After reflection, each group had the option of continuing to work on the game design or taking a break after a long day. To sum up today’s process vas very satisfying complex and productive. The knowledge that we received from precious days was useful for the practical work. The obstacles were matched with energizers and specific exercises as always. All of these small tasks encouraged us to achieve our goals in small steps while also managing our time. Today was a really amazing and productive day.
On the fifth day, trainers began with a motivating speech that contained game-play advice for all of us. We were able to access Google Drive from the start, which held all of the information and paperwork we required to proceed. We knew what websites we might have utilized to make our game cards. We were also reminded of the essential deadline for the printed prototype and rules.
Trainers ensured that everything was clear so that we could begin filling out the precise details and regulations for our game. While we were writing it on the drive, the trainer could view it and provide comments and recommendations if there needed to be any changes; this feedback worked really well for everyone.
The afternoon between lunch and dinner was completely free after 4 productive days we were able to take a little break if we needed to, or in case some groups needed to work on a game during that time, they were free to do so. We would like to mention the fact that the environment in each group is incredibly inspiring; all of us are excited to share our experiences, thoughts, and advice with one another.
In the evening we had a memorable outdoor dinner which was very well planned and organized. Everyone had a fantastic day with excellent food, a warm fireplace, lovely songs, and, most importantly, wonderful people.
On the sixth day of training, the participants finalized the games. The main task for the first session was to check to spell and improve the visuals of the games. After the designing was done, teams started to print out their games and it was very fulfilling to see the games in flesh. Finally, they polished the game materials, visuals, and details. The games were ready to test. First, the teams started testing the games in their own groups, to see what was missed and what didn’t need any change. After playing a few rounds themselves, participants had small discussions and applied new changes, that became apparent after the first testing. Finally, the games were done and ready to introduce to other groups and actually be played. Every group had a game master, that stayed at the table of their game and explained the rules or led the game for other participants. So the players were taking turns and testing each other’s games. Everybody got to playtest at least two games. A very important part of the process was the feedback, that was given to game creators by the new players. This feedback will be applied and modified for the next round of testing. In the evening, participants continued to play and try out each other’s games.
The last day of the project began with the discussion about the modification of the created games, what needed to be changed or added after testing. Participants finalized their games with their national groups planned the follow-up activities that they will implement in their home countries after the project. Then was conducted the final evaluation of the project, participants shared their contacts with each other to stay in touch for future plans and exchanged their emotions about the training. To sum up, their feelings, turned out the project aim – to provide and empower social inclusion instruments through board games- was achieved.
Overall, the training was very successful. As we know one of the main focuses of the project was the social exclusion and marginalization of young people. Participants discussed the most prevailing and pressing challenges in society. They designed board games that tackle these issues and in the future, they will use the games in their local communities, work, youth centres, and schools. The developed games, once put to practice, will support the development of a sense of belonging among youth. These instruments will empower youth and their involvement in their local communities.
The results and outcomes are here!
We are sharing with you the results and outcomes of the follow-up activity of Armenian participants of the project:
- Anna Karapetyan, the founder of “Planemo” Educational Centre and Educational Programme Officer at Gyumri Technology Center implemented the follow-up activity with young people, where she explained the techniques of creating board games on existing table games and other materials.
- Gor Galstyan, read a lecture to the Late teen group of the Eurnekian school of the Mother See of Holy Ejmiatsin and presented to them all the process of creating games. Gor showed them the mechanism and the process of which the creation of games is consisted, also, introduced them a presentation and after it, they played a professional game in Armenian, concerning the subject and Armenian churches and monasteries. After playing that game pupils talked about the bad sides of the game and also they said their opinion on how the game should be.
- Sona Davtyan is working with young people and she implemented her follow-up activity during the club’s meeting with 24 young people. They have played a board game about the capital city Yerevan, its sightseeing, streets, monuments and etc. After playing the game Sona presented to them all the process of creating such kinds of games. By explaining to them the importance of this kind of game in the educational process, so she tried to prove to them that education can be not just formal, but also an active and interesting process. Then the discussion of the game mechanisms, good and bad sides followed.