Racial Equity Board Games Panel on October 21st

In partnership with CRIT and the REDI Council, the Games Institute is hosting a Racial Equity Board Games Panel on October 21, 2020, to kick off the Racial Equity Board Games Showcase, which will take place in Winter 2021. Click to register for the panel.

Below, read the article that discusses the collaboration and the intentions driving the showcase, originally written for Waterloo Stories and published on UWaterloo's Homepage: "Board games that inspire racial equity".

Board games that inspire racial equity

University of Waterloo groups partner to encourage creation of games that promote equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-racism

scrabble tiles in a pileOn Wednesday, October 21, the Research, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) Council, the Games Institute and the Council for Responsible Innovation and Technology (CRIT) are launching the University of Waterloo’s first Racial Equity Board Game Showcase, under the guidance of University of Waterloo’s Office of Research and with consultation from the Equity Office.

“Games can be a powerful and popular tool for critically challenging ideas, affording intentional, rhetorical choices that provoke, teach, recuperate and connect people and ideas in interactive ways unique to that medium,” Jason Lajoie says, CRIT Research Associate. “This showcase offers an opportunity for students, staff, faculty and researchers from every background to design contributions to anti-racism work”.           

Existing games like Freedom, the Underground Railroad (2012) and Rise Up: The Game of People and Power (2017) are board game examples that help audiences understand complex issues related to race, racism and anti-racism in society. 

“Through this Anti-racism Board Game Showcase event, the [REDI] Council hopes to foster research into designing games for social justice,” Anita Layton says, Chair of the REDI Council. “Games can attract almost everyone to engage with serious social issues such as racial equity. The collaborative aspect of board games is particularly valuable because families and friends sit together, talk, argue and learn through interaction with each other. This process can encourage serious discussions about racial equity and inclusion.”

The event, which starts from Fall Term 2020 through Spring Term 2021, will provide a platform for existing and would-be board game designers to distribute their work showcasing anti-racism themes. 

The showcase kicks-off with a panel event October 21, with games and race studies researchers like Kishonna GrayLai-Tze Fan and Aynur Kadir. The panel will raise awareness for the showcase and allow interested participants to learn about the possibilities, expectations and issues surrounding the design of anti-racist board games. 

“Submissions for the showcase will open this upcoming winter and will be evaluated based on criteria set by a group of game studies and anti-racism scholars,” Neil Randall notes, executive director of the Games Institute. “REDI, the Games Institute, and CRIT have also compiled a non-comprehensive list of resources for anyone interested in doing self-guided research on how games can promote equity, diversity and inclusivity, to be introduced at the panel. This showcase supports UWaterloo’s ongoing work to address systemic racism in all its forms on campus, and to ensure this work is led by members of BIPOC communities.”

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