Hivos held first game lab in Guatemala

October 24, 2013

Who doesn’t like to play games?

It is supposed to be an essential part of every person’s life. But when you live in in the midst of earthquakes, violence, corruption and poverty there is very little room for play. In Central America, there is a lack of public spaces for recreational purposes and a high sense of insecurity preventing citizens from using them.

During two weekends, the Hivos Regional Office in Central America brought eighteen youngsters from Guatemala together at a warehouse-like building for the zero phase of ‘El Taller Volador’ – The Flying Workshop. This is a game lab designed to act as a catalyst for creativity and empowerment through play and game design.

El Taller Volador aims to make safe, temporary spaces available where we can create games with people. This initiative is working under the assumption that games and play can be powerful drivers for change. The skills you practice while gaming are necessary competencies to thrive as citizens in a connected world, such as problem solving, the trial and error process and dealing with uncertainty and failure.

During the four-day workshop participants focused on playing and analyzing games. In the first weekend, the young people were expected to modify games and test their proposals. The last two days of the workshop (19th and 20th October) were dedicated to designing and play-testing their own games.

There is very little knowledge about how games are perceived and adopted amongst Central American youth. El Taller Volador intends to help fill that void, but in order to do so, this pilot phase helped to gain insights and formulate hypotheses to push the project forward.

The whole experience has been documented and over the next months three products will be released: a publishable paper, a mini-documentary and a website where both the workshop and other similar projects will be described. 

This project is a joint initiative between our  Rights & Citizenship and Expression & Engagement programs.  Hivos wants to test new, edgy ideas in the area of social innovation to creatively approach some traditional topics. We hope this will become a much broader program in the near future so we are looking for adventurous partners who are willing to test this idea with us.