Let’s talk about games

On Saturday the 22nd October 2022 at the Scottish Youth Theatre in Glasgow, the KE & impact team of the COSS, University of Glasgow, held an event tilted Let’s talk about games within the Festival of Social Science (FoSS) funded by the ESRC.

The event was part of the activities of the Games Hub, a project funded by ASPECT. Building on activities of the last two years, the Games Hub Project is continuing to support the work on gaming and innovation of both academics and professional services from the University of Glasgow, Manchester, Bristol, and Nottingham Trent. This academic year the network will continue operating with the increased collaboration of the University of Edinburgh, Birmingham, and the Queen’s University of Belfast.

The FoSS Let’s talk about games event, which took place in Glasgow, provided academics from across the UK the opportunity to finally meet and showcase their work to a public audience. Being the first walk in event organised within this project the team was unsure of its outcome.

However, after a wet Glaswegian start, we had a great time helping researchers improve their games. More than 20 people participated to the event and had the opportunity to play 2 or 3 games. Some families were able to play together parents and children. Others let the children play some of the games on their own while the parents played games more suitable for their age group.

The public came from a range of demographics and backgrounds, ranging from professionals interested in the gaming industry, university students and families with children from 5- to 16-year-old.

There was fun for all ages as demonstrated by the enthusiastic comments left on the feedback wall by the attendees.

The academics were able to talk about their games, to explain the rules and support players making decisions and taking strategies. They had the opportunity to collect feedback and interest in their games. One of the attendees said, ‘Seeing what you are doing at the University of Glasgow is so inspiring – thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be apart of it’.

We had Prof. Christine Brown-Wilson coming from Belfast. She presented her Kids Dementia Game and Dementia Game (https://kids.dementiagame.com; https://www.dementiagame.com) and was very pleased with the interested and feedback on her games. She said: ‘Thanks for a great day today!! … The day has given me a totally new appreciation of playing games’.

There were Prof. Jane Mair and Dr Felicity Belton, University of Glasgow, presenting their Legally wed. In this occasion we had non-native English speaker playing the game and some families with children playing together with their parents. A very interesting outcome from a diverse range of players.

Prof. Helen Hall and Dr Ryan Cushley-Spendiff came from Nottingham Trent University to show their Brave New World. As this game has many ways to be played and different scenarios, they had an audience ranging from very young players to teenagers. All players enjoyed thinking about human rights themes from a gaming perspective. ‘I found it a very valuable experience, and even came away with ideas of how we might adapt Brave New World to use with even younger childrenso it was worth it for that alone ’ (Prof. Helen Hall).

Dr Rachel Porteous presented Fractal Escalation, her audience was mainly professionals from the gaming and communication sectors. She represented the team of Games and Gaming Lab that helps

translates ideas into gaming for a wide segment of researchers at the University of Glasgow, from history to philosophy to Public Policy. From a member of the GGLab ‘the game is still a prototype, but it was lovely to be able to showcase and test play it with public members and young people in this event organised by the Games Hub Team’.

And for us all the Games Hub has been an immense privilege to collaborate with them all and to bring to the public our passion for educational gaming.

Hopefully this will be just the first event of this kind. We aim at supporting research ideas and academics interested in gaming and in joining forces with the gaming industry and professionals to merge efforts and bring research-based games to the wider public’s attention. Stay tuned for our next events.

In the meanwhile, keep playing and keep learning!

The Games Hub Team


If you want to learn more about the games showcased at the event, here some insights:

Kids Dementia Game and Dementia Game

Nearly half of the population know a person living with dementia, but many people still don’t fully understand the capabilities that people living with dementia maintain. These games aim at improving society’s awareness so that people with dementia and their carers are empowered, supported and included in their communities.

Legally wed

Marriage is a legal status and, if you want to be legally wed, you need to stick to the rules. Weddings in Scotland can be very personal and highly individual, but you must comply with specific rules. The object of the game is to navigate the conditions and the crises on the path to being Legally Wed.

Brave New World

This game enables people of all ages to engage with contemporary debates on human rights and equality. The players will confront challenging situations in a setting which is liberating and enjoyable. The game is suitable form around the age of eight right to adults.

Fractal escalation

A group a countries, deciding their futures through the ‘Committee of Nations’. You are the diplomat – play as one of 8 countries and use your votes to help shape the world in line with your country’s priorities. Will you cooperate with other ‘diplomats’ to achieve better results for everyone, or will you compete to outbid your rivals, as the players negotiate what priority should be given to 3 crucial areas of international economic policy.

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