UW Launches Racial Equity Board Games Showcase

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Graphics by Jia Chen

The University of Waterloo announced the launch of a Racial Equity Board Games Showcase scheduled to begin around mid-April 2021, according to Kitchener Today. The initiative comes from a partnership between three UW groups: the Research, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) Council, the Games Institute, and the Council for Responsible Innovation and Technology (CRIT).  

A panel discussion was held on Oct. 21, 2020, featuring several games and race studies researchers, including Drs. Kishonna Gray, Lai-Tze Fan, and Aynur Kadir. The panel session focused primarily on promoting awareness and informing interested participants about the strategies and logistics involved in designing racial equity-themed board games. 

In an interview with Kitchener Today, Neil Randall, Executive Director at UW’s Games Institute, Chair of the CRIT, and a key organizing member for the showcase, said: “…we began to realize that games can be a way to help people understand intricacies and sensitivities of these issues [surrounding concerns of equity and racism].” 

Game submissions will begin in February 2021 and will be evaluated by games studies and anti-racism scholars. Design prototypes for board games can be submitted virtually and the medium of board game chosen is “approachable” as proficiency in programming languages won’t be required. 

“In mid-April, we will have an online remote showcase where we celebrate these submissions,” Randall said. 

Randall hopes that the designs address issues that will educate the players. “I want to see something that addresses one or two key issues [on racial injustice] …and find out how through playing this game… they can understand those issues more fully,” Randall said. 

UW is undertaking this initiative following the school’s commitment and ongoing efforts to combat issues of systemic racism and racial inequity. 

“As long as we are working with the communities who are most affected – the cultures most affected – we can possibly make a change that way – and that’s what we’re hoping to do,” Randall said. 

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