"One that does not play is simply boring"
That`s what the scientists say when describing the importance of playing in a human`s learning process and in life overall. This was also the conclusion of Maria Jefimova (leader of the NGO Hea Hombre) and Pavel Vassiljev (leader of the NGO Shokkin Group) who were leading the project “Game Creator”: DIY. During the project their youth created a board game, a comic book and a booklet of different games for youth groups. The products are meant to develop cooperation, problem solving, inclusion and many other skills.
The idea to create games came from different thematic workshops and lectures. Creating games sounded interesting and when Pavel and Maria introduced the idea to their youth, they received a really positive response. The youth also wanted to try making a comic book. Due to a great interest of this project, three youth groups were made: one was working with the board game, the other was busy with making the comic book and the third group created different energizers and ice-breakers for young people.
Maria remembers that even though the idea-generation phase lasted almost three months it was still very interesting. “The best ideas were created during brainstorming and different group –games. The youth had a lot of fun, but it was useful for them too. Of course there was some heat too when someone’s idea was voted down. But over all I think that the youth learned the brainstorming method very well and they also got to know many different methods to brainstorm”.
Even though creating games takes a lot of time you don`t need any special skills. All you have to have is interest and willpower. Pavel says that the inspiration came mainly from different movies and computer games. The created board game “Island” is bit movie-like too.
Here`s the plot: A bunch of plane –crash survivors land on a deserted island. Of course they start to try to get back home and they have to go through a lot to do this. As long as anyone is out just for himself it’s impossible to get back home. But if the castaways join their forces and start to cooperate, they will have the possibility to get out of there. Pavel says that the game is built to develop cooperation, strategic thinking and inclusion skills. “It is interesting to watch the players because it takes time for them to realize what the game is all about and everybody gets there differently”.
The comic book „Old Town Tales“ is a story that everybody knows: fight between good and evil. The story uses Estonian mythological characters that are put to a modern action –story. The bad guy, Ülemiste oldster, wants to drown the newly built Tallinn. The good guy, Vana Toomas, tries to stop him, but he is in love with the oldster’s daughter Mermaid. What happens next, can be read on from the comic book... . Inspiration for the comic also came from movies like Rambo and Terminator.
There was a lot to learn about making comic books as well. Since there were only Russian –speaking youth in the group Estonian mythological heroes were chosen on purpose to introduce them to Russian youth as well. Also, the comic book is in English only so the youth could practice their language skills.
“Making the comic book was definitely the most difficult out of the three. To create the characters we needed someone with talent, skills and utmost patience. The original drawings had to be copied and scanned into computer and it was a really long process. It took almost a year to put this comic book together”, describes Pavel. The youth is willing to publish part two of the comic-book, but it`s a little too early to say when exactly. But this should include some international heroes as well.
Fjodor (19) is a guy who took part of the group that created group games. He works as a team leader in summer camps and sometimes uses more than ten group games a day. “My experience shows that games are the best way to learn something and to get to know someone. My friend invited me to join ”Game Creator” and I really wanted to try to create some games myself that I can use in my camps afterwards”.
The group created different types of games: energizers to activate young people; ice-breakers to get to know each other and to develop group relations as well as cooperation; and also team –building games. The descriptions of the games were put together to a booklet „Games for young people by young people“.
“I also thought that creating the ideas was the most difficult part of the process. But group activities, thinking and playing together is always helpful to get the ideas bubbling. I realized during the project that nothing is impossible and you have to believe in yourself. It is a good feeling if you can create something cool and big together with others and to use something that you have created yourself“, says Fjodor.
The group enjoyed creating games so much that even after the project finished, they still continue getting together to create new games.
The games and the comic-book are available here.
The interview was carried out by Evelin Koppel, communication specialist of SA Archimedes Youth Agency
Wikipedia. Learning though play.
Yenguin, S. 2014. Play Doesn't End With Childhood: Why Adults Need Recess Too.