Operationalizing Conflict Strategies in a Board Game [Tabletop Games Workshop paper]

In collabroation with Dr. Sarah Harmon at Bowdoin College, we will be presenting work on the design of a board game that explicitly includes vocabulary from conflict resolution work in Social Sciences. A draft of the paper is available here [TTG_FDG_Conflict_StarStruck] The paper is going to be presented at the Tabletop Games Workshop at the Foundations of Digital Games Conference.

Operationalizing Conflict Strategies in a Board Game

The aim of conflict resolution education is to impart essential strategies and skills for resolving conflicts effectively. While these are important life skills, conflict resolution can be difficult to teach because it requires individuals to interact with others, explore new strategies, and receive feedback within a natural social context in order for strong connections to be made. As board games often involve co-located multiplayer interaction and can be effective tools for young learners, we explore the possibility of incorporating learning about conflict resolution into a tabletop game. We describe the process of designing an educational board game — StarStruck — that fosters discussions about conflict management via operationalization of conflict strategies drawn from an instrument founded in social psychology theory. Through in- and out-of-board interactions, StarStruck is designed to provide players with affordances to explore different resolution strategies within their natural social environment. We present examples from initial playtesting sessions to consider the expressive range of conflict scenarios generated by playing the game. This work serves as a preliminary illustration of how to map the vocabulary of conflict resolution to game mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics so that players can naturally engage with and discuss conflict interactions.