It can be quite difficult promoting Lines And Ladders. Quite a task to ensure that willing participants know that this is a game, it should be relaxed, enjoyable, rewarding, but it is also research.
This is play-as-research. I am inviting you to play a game, to share your stories, to have fun, but it is always research.
This part of the process is evident in the paperwork prologue. At the start of every game, there is the Paperwork Prologue. Stamped into cards declaring ‘Important Things to Say’, this prologue to the performance explains how the information will be gathered from the game and how it will be used. There is an Official Signing of the Consent Form Ceremony that accompanies the Paperwork Prologue. And although I joke here, this section of the performance is vitally important to me. It matters to me that people understand the research element of the project. That they get it – the play and the research are integral to one another.
There have been a few people who, having sat through the Paperwork Prologue, chose not to participate. Only a few, but I think it is good, as they clearly felt comfortable enough at this point to withdraw.
The information shared in the Paperwork Prologue is all on the main webpage for Lines And Ladders, which participants are directed to read when they book, although I don’t know how many do. I do know of one person who having read this information, decided not to play. It is so much better that people make an informed decision about whether or not to take part.
But this means that it can be awkward to sell the game to people. I want to encourage you to play. I want you to enjoy it. I want you to have fun. The feedback that I have had from players has been overwhelmingly positive, so it’s likely that if you want to play you will enjoy it. As of yet, no one has withdrawn from the research project after playing the game. I want you to see this as an opportunity to tell your stories. To find a new method for sharing your stories with family and friends. I want to say all of this, but I need to keep coming back to the fact that this is research. That I will be writing about the game in this blog, in my thesis, in presentations, papers, articles, books.
It’s a fine line to walk between making audiences aware and scaring them off.
Especially when you can’t talk face to face. I find it so much easier to reassure, to answer questions and to explain in person. This is perhaps why most games have happened with people who started chatting whilst I was sat in a café or shop and accepted the invitation to play there and then.
Not sure if this particular blog post is going to help – but I hope that if you want to play you do at least come and listen to the Paperwork Prologue, before making your decision!
Games can be booked now at Manchester Central Library for this Saturday, 17th November
And in Sheffield at the Treehouse Board Game Café next Saturday, 24th November
Both games are part of the Being Human Festival – a celebration of research on the theme of ‘Origins & Endings’ in the humanities.