Colonialism in Board Games
Mikael Jakobsson and I recently had a chance to discuss our research in colonialist themes in board games and making counter-colonialist games this past March, through a presentation at GDC’s Board Game Design Day and on Geoff Engelstein and Gil Hova’s Ludology podcast.
Why have hundreds of colonial-themed board games been published during the last two decades? And why are more and more of these games being released every year? In this talk, MIT’s Mikael Jakobsson and Rik Eberhardt will present their findings from a year of board game design workshops in Bogotá, San Juan, and Maine with professional designers, students, and representatives of locals and indigenous peoples of the different areas.The purpose of the workshops was to learn what people who live in places that so often are represented in board games actually care about, and create game prototypes based on these themes. Mikael and Rik wanted to make counterexamples to the plethora of games that focus on the European colonialist time period and often represents the indigenous people in a very passive way, or not at all. In this talk, they’ll focus on what modern board game developers can learn from their study, showing that there are great untapped opportunities connected to the use of contemporary themes and ascribing greater agency and ownership to representations of local cultures.