SEEK: Salford Environment for Expertise and Knowledge

Magazine Article
February 2012

Game On

Ingleson, S 2012 'Game On', in: RISE -Research Innovation and Internationalisation News, Community Engagement Supplement , , February 2012.




All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players….. so said Shakespeare and how right he was.  Players and games or board games to be exact are proving to be popular in research at the University!  Games, acting, playing are some of the tools that Sam Ingelson, Programme Leader MA Creative Education in the School of Art & Design is utilising in her community research.


Sam gives the background to her concept: “My research is centred on the development of board game design as a methodology to capture visual narrative and stimulate debate around themed content.  I have been developing board games over a number of years and have worked with various communities using board games as a way of generating personal or site-specific content through group discussions that can then be visually represented as a game.  Within a community context this method can have a viable purpose within community engagement and consultative processes.   On a previous research project involving young people in Ordsall, Salford we collaborated wih Chris Leach, an artist, working on a community board game.   The process we undertook as part of the research captured young people’s experiences as well as historical facts about the area onto a playing board that included local landmarks and playing pieces representing figures from the community.  A publicised community event followed whereby participants and people new to the game gathered to play. This provided an opportunity to facilitate both learning and advanced discussions through interaction in an accessible and creative context and resulted in more local knowledge being shared and added to the game”. 


Sam has found through her research that this sort of approach can help with difficult situations and ease community tensions, addressing specific issues by role and game playing.  Sam continues the story: “A group of young people I worked with in Middleton, Greater Manchester used the card game format to illustrate an outdoor activity that a group of children played together called ‘Manhunt’.  There had been some tension in the community over the use of a small area of wasteland, with some residents viewing the young people’s interaction with the wasteland in a negative light. By local residents viewing and being aware of the game, they understood better what the younger people were doing in the area and changed their opinions”.


You often hear ‘Its an age thing’ or ‘its the generation gap’ when problems within a community occur.   Sam’s research has led her to study and evaluate projects where board games are used as an aid to intergenerational discussions and family learning. Weekly sessions in community centres across Manchester encouraged families, each made up of three generations, to come together to develop their own family board games. The construction of the boards and playing pieces created a space in which families could talk and reflect on how to represent each other within the game.  The sessions provided an opportunity for the families to spend time together and discover a shared focus.


The participative design and development of this type of game can function as a tool for pedagogic delivery and reflection to enable any group of people to explore their own learning.   Board game design provides specific opportunity for creative and entrepreneurial (action centred) learning.  Sam has created a template that enables learners from primary up to postgraduate study and non formal learners within the community to view the various stages of; research, collection, formation of ideas, rejection of ideas and re testing that occurs during a period of creativity.


Sam summed up: &ldqu;Having tested out this method with staff and students from an ’arts’ background, I am now collaborating with different communities within the University of Salford.   A prototype board game is now being developed further. 


If you would like to know more about Sam’s research or feel that it could help with your community project contact her at:




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Publication Details

Magazine Title
RISE -Research Innovation and Internationalisation News

Community Engagement Supplement