The Participatory Design Conference, which was going to be held in Colombia, happened online this year. Although I am sad to have missed the opportunity to work with local communities and run the situated action in Manizales, Colombia, the organizers did a great job to create interactive sessions and exhibitions in virtual spaces. Through virtual reality, we created an opportunity for conference attendees to play and discuss a boardgame which was co-designed with clients at Psychosis Therapy Project.
This project was part of the collaborative doctoral award with Islington Mind, exploring the role of co-design as a mode of treatment or to support recovery. The collaboration begun without a design brief. A broad design purpose emerged through time, that of expressing a notion of Stewardship, or taking care of, which resulted in the development of a boardgame, GAME. I remember well a key turning point at one of the brainstorming sessions that eventually led to this boardgame. The group was voicing ideas that would help spiritual people wonder, when a participant paused and said, the question is rather how to make non spiritual people wonder!
GAME is designed to encourage collaboration over competition, and the exchange of ideas and perspectives in a non-judgemental way. It helps people explore themselves, and express their feelings and opinions on a variety of themes through play. Some players for instance commented ‘I have shared things I wouldn’t have otherwise’ or ‘I didn’t know I was so self-conscious’. It is designed to help participants wonder and connect with one another and the environment. The boardgame involves players in addressing questions that relate to different themes – green, philosophical, spiritual, mind & body, creativity – through different forms of interaction. There are no winners or losers, although a token system is often used to keep track of what players want to develop and distribute rewards to encourage this. In the video below, you can see us play!
You can learn more about the design process in the virtual room created for the Participatory Design Conference, which is in its final days! Once you load the page press the arrows to make your way from the lobby into the exhibition room.