Lines And Ladders

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Lines And Ladders is a board game. It’s a tiny pop up performance that happens in public spaces. It’s a method for exchanging stories. The board game offers a flexible frame for sharing family histories.

The game is based on Snakes And Ladders with added family history storytelling. Players start in the bottom left and wind their way to the top right corner according to a dice roll. On their way they encounter DNA strands that either send them climbing upwards or tumbling downwards. Each double helix is a prompt to tell a story. One upward prompt, ‘You have named photographs’, is an invitation to talk about photographs of ancestors that the player has seen and known who they were. Its opposite, ‘You have nameless photographs’, is an opportunity to share experiences of unlabelled, anonymous images; this set back in genealogical research sends the player backwards on the board.

Lines And Ladders was played in Sheffield, Edinburgh, Manchester, Carlisle, London and Herefordshire as part of my PhD practice-research project between July 2018 and April 2019. The development and playing of Lines And Ladders was documented on the blog pages of this website. It is the focus of ‘Chapter Five: Participating’ in my thesis; this is currently embargoed but there’s a link to request access from White Rose ETheses Online if you want to read it before March 2022:

Artwork by Shane Surgey