A Board Game to Foster Empathy
Nia Campbell, a student of MFA in Design from VCUArts Qatar, creates for her final year project a learning tool that relies on communication in a safe, playful space that allows players to acknowledge the hardships in life and the things worth celebrating, offering a window into the experiences of those outside one’s community and within.
Nia Campbell wants to be an educator, having been inspired by some of the professors she has worked with while studying for her Masters’s programme in Fine Arts from the Virginia Commonwealth University Arts Qatar (VCUArts Qatar).
“In the long-term, I would like to teach while pursuing other endeavors like becoming a published author, continuing to illustrate, and possibly working in film,” she says expressing her intent to work in Qatar.
We talk to her about her project and the challenges tackled while going about her final year project.
NIA: My final project is called Reclamancipation: A Story of Brilliance, Resilience, and Transilience. It examines the issue of African American women being exclusively defined by or associated with trauma and stereotypes. In response, the project focuses on the nuanced experiences of African American women, highlighting how oppression and celebration intermingle to define their identities. The goal of the project is to portray African American women as complex people, just like everyone else.
My design solution to the topic was to create a colourful customisable board game where players exchange stories to learn about each other’s multidimensionality and build empathy. The game itself is called Reclamancipation and is a learning tool that relies on communication in a safe, playful space. The game allows players to acknowledge the hardships in life and the things worth celebrating, offering a window into the experiences of those outside one’s community and inside.
What makes the project a unique design solution is that it embraces feelings of joy and play in both the final outcome and the research process. The project is built upon joy as a form of activism. Further, the game can also function as a learning tool, a therapy tool, a way to socialiSe with others, and more; the game allows people to engage with it in whatever way they need at that time.
SCALE: How differently would you have approached the project if it was not completed during the lockdown?
NIA: I have wondered about this myself during the development process. I am not sure how exactly I would have approached the project differently, but I trust I would have had a completely different outcome. Without the lockdown, I would have been around other students and faculty from all different departments, would have been creating in a viewable space, and would have had access to different tools and facilities. Every variable of the creative environment would have been different and every element of the project would have responded to that.
SCALE: How excited are you to be part of the professional race and be part of the design fraternity? What are your future plans and would Qatar be the place you would choose to work in?
Even though I am no longer an enrolled student, I will always continue to learn and that excites me. I am looking forward to using my creative practice to educate.
In the near future, I want to pursue small art and design projects in between large long-term projects like Reclamancipation. I also want to be an educator, having been inspired by some of the professors I worked with while earning my MFA. In the long-term, I would like to teach while pursuing other endeavors like becoming a published author, continuing to illustrate, and possibly working in film. I would like to work in Qatar in the immediate future.
All Images Courtesy VCUArts Qatar