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Gamechangers is a new project from Chrysalis born from its recent Village Boardgames Convention, made possible through the support of these founders. Children from villages have been clamouring to play the games and, of course, there is no place for them to play or even buy boardgames, were they able to afford them. However, we see a future time when boardgames will be more readily available in Uganda and believe that there is much change that can take place through giving access to a range of boardgames.
Why is this important?
- Board games can provide a window to the outside world, which can inspire them to think of a life outside the village
- Playing board games can develop confidence, as children realise their capabilities
- Written text in games can encourage children to improve their reading skills, so as to be able to compete on a level footing
- Chrysalis uses the board games to highlight those children who can learn quickly, strategise and solve problems. We have recruited a number of our trainee social entrepreneurs from board game clubs
- Co-operative games encourage working together, a necessity to solve rural problems, when cash is less available
- Board game themes can make other learning more fun or introduce new topics. For instance, games about global warming are a useful vehicle to explain the reasons for climate change.
- Board games are not usually electricity-dependent, so they can be played in areas where power is unreliable or non-existent
- Games are enjoyable to children and encourage sociability. This will have a long-term benefit to them in making friends and improving relationships
- Villages have little available for children to tax their mental abilities and games can help cognitive development, as a result, as well as identify those who would benefit most from a higher level of education
Children growing up in villages follow a set of rules and this project aims to facilitate the changing of at least some of these rules, by creating changemakers. Using games, young people can gain many personal development skills – planning, social skills, resource management, memory, maths, self confidence to name a few – which can help them find solutions to problems in the communities.
Our aim with this project is to create a regular weekend games every week at our games clubs in Uganda , with a variety and changing group of boardgames for them to play. Boardgames take while for children in this area to become familiar, but once they do, then they will play on their own and usually are very good at looking after components. After some time, the children will become more proficient and we will enable them to become teachers of others, facilitating hem to visit other clubs and train children there.
Every year we will have a Convention for the Village Clubs, where children can come and meet their friends and fellow enthusiasts, as well as learn many new games that they can perhaps take back o their village clubs.
Gamechangers will also incorporate other key skills and talent development, using gamification, as style of teaching, which changes learning into a game and this has proved very successful throughout the world. We plan to turn planting into a ball game, dancing into hopscotch.
Gamechangers needs people and last year we have launched The Boardgame Pioneers Uganda, a group of young people, who love to play boardgames and they want other young people in Uganda to learn about them too. They’re also intent in encouraging boardgame companies who think young Ugandans can’t handle the most difficult boardgames that they can play even the most complex games, though they want more accessible games for young people too!
In 2017 they planned and implemented a unique event – the first village Boardgames Convention in remote Koro, a village area in Northern Uganda – where these games, like RoboRally, Cosmic Encounter, Alhambra, Codenames and many others – had never been seen before. It was an immeasurable success, both for the young people who organised it and the children and youth who participated in it. You can see the video about it here
Taught by staff at Chrysalis how to play the boardgames they know, they realise the value in teaching them resource management, planning, maths, social, creative and problem-solving skills and they decided to set up a podcast, where they could put together some of their ideas on boardgames from their own unique perspective. You can view their first effort here.
Our girls group also enjoy boardgames, with a particular favourite for Codenames and also Forbidden Isand.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank Boardgame Designer Matt Leacock, BoardgameMonster and InfoPerfected and many others for supporting us by sending boardgames to Uganda, where it is impossible to buy modern boardgames. If you have some games you would like to send us, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.