In May of this year, we hope to host the second Village Boardgame Convention in Uganda, following on from last year's amazing event. At our remote rural centre in Koro, near Gulu in Northern Uganda, we have a children's activity centre, where we plan to bring children and youth from multiple districts of Uganda with your help.
This event is part of an initiative by UK charity CYEN, which trains teenagers from remote villages to be social entrepreneurs, young people who can catalyse change in the most disadvantaged parts of society. We believe that boardgames can effect change in these young people by teaching them skills, which they would otherwise find difficult to learn. For instance:
a) Games can teach young people about the outside world in fun ways, which will stimulate their interest and ambition
b) Winning games can build confidence, when often schools have few mechanisms to boost the confidence of their pupils
c) Most games have a planning or memory element, which can help their players think in different ways, when often children might live day to day for their survival
d) Many games are creative and help inspire problem-solving, which is key in seeing change occur in these remote places
e) We hope to inspire new game designers from communities, who can then earn money that can help enhance local school or health provision.
f) Co-operative games can inspire teamwork and partnership, a factor often needed in impoverished areas.
CYEN also believes in running youth-led events and last year we founded the Uganda Boardgame Pioneers, a group of talented young Ugandan teenagers aged 13-16, who have developed experience in board and roleplaying games. It is this group that will steer the teaching of the new games, together with our Gulu and Kampala staff team and the latest group of 13 young people we call the Cohort 4 Butterflies, a group of teenagers from Pader and Agago District in Northern Uganda.
Their programme will include the following elements:
1. WORLD FIRST - Molerats in Space Tournament, supported through Matt Leacock and Peacable Kingdom. Matt Leacock, the designer of Pandemic, has developed some rules for one of his other games Molerats in Space, which he designed specially for Ugandan rural children to learn to work together to reach objectives. In this game we will be asking different districts in Northern Uganda to put together a team, which will be timed in sending their molerats into space, just like in the Pandemic Survival tournaments. Check Matt Leacock's blog soon for more information on this event.
2. Boardgame Tryouts - we will have a hundred or more games that we can teach during the event, from the simplest "Hungry Caterpillar" game to modern classics like Terraforming Mars and Legends of Andor.
3. Dragon and Flagon Tournament. This is a fantasy bar room brawl game, where you gain points (reputation) for connecting with one of the other seven opponents. It's fast and furious and the winner will advance to the next round.
4. Dungeon and Wilderness Tournament. We will teach the basics of roleplaying and see how far each team can progress down the adventure.
5. LARP (Live Action Roleplaying). We will be making some foam weapons and implementing an imaginary battle, with face paint!
6. Omweso Championship. Omweso is Uganda's national game and many children are taught how to play when they grow up. Last year's tournament was hotly contested and we expect this year's to be even more so.
We hope to also include Art Arena games, a kind of teamwork art game, which we piloted in August last year and produced fascinating results.
Lastly, we will end with an overnight session and evening film and barbecue, for those who paricipated in the event.
We need a minimum of £1000 to put the event on, but hope we can raise more than this, so youth from other areas of Northern Uganda can be be invited. For each further £500 raised we will be able to extend into a new district and youth organisation in Northern Uganda.
We also plan to finish building our secondary school this year, so any surplus money can also go into this project. This school will give access to a range of boardgames to its students, when it opens next year.