Yesterday we had a great night playing Mind the Gap at the Waag in Amsterdam.
Dick gave an excellent presentation and the audience was fully engaged. Yet, I could not help wondering why there are always so few men at "gender events", specifically the one combining gender and technology.
-- hey guys we do not bite ;-)
Anyway, we had fun.
Mind the Gap is a collective narrative about gender and career which originally started between the Departments of Computer Science of the University of Lincoln and the University of Trento. It was launched at the inauguration of the Eleanor Glanville Centre in March 2017, and since then it has been played in a variety of places by hundreds of people.
However, this was the first time ever which Mind the Gap was the focus of a thematic night, and I must admit I felt a bit nervous beforehand, also considering that Max is at the moment happily cycling in Iceland. Fortunately, the game-pack flew in safely and Rutger not only organised everything and printed the pack but also made some cute new Play Characters for us at the Maker Space of the Waag.
Players are randomly allocated a male, female or rainbow Player Character (PC). Male PC’s roll a six-sided die to advance through the game, while female and rainbow PC’s play with a four-sided die. This procedural rhetoric describes the situation of gender inequality that is widespread in STEM industry and academic careers.
Upon following the number of place moves, players draw from the stack of ‘privilege cards’ and read aloud the text there, further moving their play piece forward or backwards depending on the privilege score of the card. Gameplay proceeds systematically as players take turns to roll the dice, move their play piece, draw a card and act on its privilege or detriment.
The cards that drive the game are almost entirely participant authored. During the course of the game play, players are invited to author their own game cards. These can include gender privilege scenarios, decision-making situations, or rule changes. From the original seven seed cards with which we began the game there are now more than 180 cards that have been added by players. These cards contain micro-stories that are often humorous, sometimes deeply personal, on occasion surprising, and overall quite revealing and share the breadth of gender related challenges that face people in their lives and work
The game was very well received and generated interesting discussion. The players produced an astonishing 30 new cards which inspired this story.
Mind the Gap is one of the results of the research of Commonfare and is free to play. If you would like a game-pack (board, copies of the cards and instructions on how to make your gendered PCs) book it on the commonplace
or log in and write your gender story in the comment.