Playing for Change

Games and Social Change Network

Wednesday, 19 February 2014 from 09:30 to 16:30 (GMT)

Manchester, United Kingdom

To mark the establishment of the Games and Social Change Network hosted byManchester Metropolitan University and supported by the Arts & Humanities Research Council, this one-day event will provide participants with an introduction to explore some of the diverse potentials of play and games as agents of change.


This one day event (10am – 4:30pm; registration from 9:30am) will be of interest to people involved in:


  • Arts and humanities research
  • Community work
  • Social activism
  • Game design and development
  • Play and game cultures
  • New media journalism


The event is free and refreshments and a buffet lunch will be provided at no extra cost. The Business School is fully accessible and includes hearing loop facilities. If you have any additional needs please contact us in advance.

The Business School is well served by public transport with Oxford Road Train Station a 10 minute walk from the venue. There is ample off-road parking nearby.


Further information about the day will be emailed to participants prior to the event. If you have specific questions or enquiries about the day please contact Scott Gaule (


Event overview

The day will comprise of workshops and presentations from leading exponents of socially aware game design and play cultures. It will also provide an opportunity for participants to play examples of these games, and practice how to make them.


Keynote presentations:

Playing for change: The transformative power of gaming

Joost Raessens (Center for the Study of Digital Games and Play: Utrecht University, NED)

Joost will discuss his ideas on this contemporary moment being marked by a renaissance in play and the ludification of culture. He will describe something about the changing landscapes of play and games in contemporary society and introduce the concept of playability, and its usefulness in understanding social change processes.

Games are conversations

Matt Adams (Blast Theory, UK)

Matt will introduce recent Blast Theory projects online and on the streets. Works such as Ivy4Evr (a text messaging drama for Channel 4) and I’d Hide You (a mixed reality game for The Space commissioned by the BBC and Arts Council England) place conversations at the centre of the experience. Participants chat with scripted bots, performers and each other. In multiplayer, multiplatform environments is this a model for games that move beyond physics?



Values in Action

Mary Flanagan (Tiltfactor Game Design Lab, USA)

Join designer Mary Flanagan in a dynamic, quick paced set of modding exercises where participants will alter familiar physical game mechanics in order to intentionally highlight particular human values. Become practiced at quickly changing designs and thinking about values. 

Alternate reality gaming as a support network

Fran Ilich (Diego de la Vega / Variable Network State, XNS/ MEX)

The Diego de la Vega co-op is a case study that uses transmedia storytelling as a tool to intervene the thing we call reality. Books, currency, futures, labour, shares, solidarity agriculture and sports are some of the investment tools that sustain the Variable Network State nano-macro-economy and its social and political activities.

Obscuring physical play: How to make digitally enabled folk games

Patrick Jarnfelt & Ida Toft (Copenhagen Game Collective, DEN)

 This is an active play session where we explore how to make digitally enabled folk games, where bodily interactions are obscured and changed by technology. We will look at differences between digital and analogue games and what we can learn from both. We will explore what enhanced play we can achieve in the hybrid space between the digital and analogue play. More specifically, we will play the classical folk game Lemon Joust and our digital counterpart. After this we will play a game on our new Human Reconfigured setup and brainstorm on variations of the game. 

Title to be confirmed

Mathias Fuchs (Gamification Lab, Leuphana University, GER)



Over lunch participants are invited to play games. The social change arcade machine will be present, loaded up with games with “Something to say”.

Our friends from the Manchester pervasive game collective ‘The Larks’, will also be recruiting participants over the lunch break to play-test their new game about social mobility and class, called ‘Know your Place’.