Try Out: applying the game for the first time!

From the 18th until the 22nd of March our first Try Out of the roleplay game “In the Footsteps of a Migrant” took place. After months of work our consortium managed to finish the first script of the European version of the game and we couldn’t wait to see it being applied. We selected a great group of people from our four partner countries with different expertise and from various disciplines. There were people with and without own migration background and professionals in the migration field varying from social workers to academics, students, artists, journalists, teachers, game developers and youth workers. 

Day 1 – Arrival

The first day was the arrival day, with our participants travelling from all over Europe to our guesthouse and seminar space in Berlin Weissensee. We welcomed the participants and showed them their rooms. In the meantime our team was very busy printing out the last parts of the scripts of the game. We opened the training that day with a common diner and some first get-to-know-eachother activities.  

Day 2 – Get into the topic

On the second day we introduced the group to the topic migration by using several non-formal educational methods. After a morning of teambuilding and name learning methods, we discussed the topic of borders and our associations with visible and invisible borders. Then we did a method that visualised the distribution of people, wealth and refugees across the world. It was a useful introduction to the next day, the game day.

Day 3 – Game day

On day three it was finally the time to apply the game. Everyone was really excited to see how the game would work out in practice. In the morning we started with a logistical introduction. As we applied the game in a big building with many rooms and external people walking in and out we had to define the playfield and its boundaries. We also explained the rules of the game and the concepts of time and money in the game. Then we split the group in two and distributed the scripts and props of each character among the players. They got some time to read and ask questions and then everyone could choose one of the character portraits from the gallery in the corridor, to better identify with their character. During a silent lunch everyone had time to get into their role. 

At exactly 14:00 the game started. There were migrant characters and staff of several stations divided over different rooms. The migrant’s task was to get into the imaginary country Minosia and find their way in the new society by getting a visa, learning the language and getting a job. On their way the migrants faced different challenges and problems and they had to deal with issues such as the language barrier, low economical status, missing documents, police control, long waiting times, etc. A more detailed report on the experience of the game from the perspective of a migrant character can be found here, written by one of our participants: Playing the Migration Game.

After three hours of playing the game, the bell rang as a sign that the game was finished. Some were relieved as they made it to the final stage, others were frustrated as they did not manage to get their work done in time. Most were overwhelmed by many emotions and after a short break we had a first impression round to relieve the first tensions and emotions and share experiences, before we closed the day.

Day 4 – Debriefing

The next morning, on the fourth day, we continued the debriefing of the game. With a fresh mind participants could reflect on their role and experiences from the previous day by making beautiful collages and drawings. After showing eachothers collages and expressing some words we continued with a method about stereotyping and connecting it with the experiences of the previous day. Then the real life stories including the portraits of the migrant characters were distributed and everyone got the time to read them, discuss them and reflect on the impact it made to realise that this game is in fact not a game but reality. Although it was an experienced group of players with a high knowledge level on migration, it was still impressive to see how the real life stories (of which some were part of our team and group) made a great impact on the group.

In the afternoon we continued our session with a world cafe method, where different topics that were raised during the game were discussed. Table topics that were discussed were mainly about racism, privilege, human rights, colonial heritage and institutional discrimination. The world cafe was concluded with a commitment wall, where everyone was invited to pin up a commitment they made to make a change in their own daily life and work. The rest of the afternoon was spent on filling in an extensive evaluation form about the functioning of the game since the Try Out was set up for us to get constructive feedback about how we can improve the game.

Day 5 – Evaluation and departure

On the last day we continued the evaluation of the game in small group discussions where a lot of great and constructive feedback and input was given to improve the game. All the feedback and results were collected so that the Romanian partner Art Fusion could rework it in an evaluation report. After a common lunch it was time for our farewell and all participants went back home with a suitcase full of memories, emotions, impressions and commitments for the future.

Looking back at the Try Out we are very satisfied with the results. Our partner Art Fusion will collect all the feedback and evaluation results into a report so we can continue with our next phase of this project: reworking the European version and starting with the development of national versions of the game. Thanks to all the committed and wonderful participants of our Try Out who volunteered to test out the game, we have now seen our work come to life and we are ready for the next level in this challenging but exciting project.

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