Unpacking a Social Change Board Game Dealing with Sexual Violence Prevention: Empowerment and Participatory Evaluation

Choices:  A Social Change Board Game 
Dealing With Sexual Violence Prevention

Choices is the name of a social change board game dealing with sexual violence.  The participatory and collaborative practices that went into developing this game are described by Dr. Maritza Concha, Lecturer at the University of Central Florida and President of Covian Consulting, Dr. Maria Elena Villar, Associate Professor at Florida International University and Vice President of Covian Consulting, and Samantha Ford, junior evaluator and project coordinator at Covian Consulting

Participatory and Collaborative Practices

Recently, we have seen the emergence of social change games as comprehensive induction tools for intervening on critical issues. Social change games facilitate persuasive processes through 

(1) creating scenarios that are fictional yet probable
(2) being structured around specific goals 
(3) benefit from increased interactivity (i.e., providing immediate feedback). 

In April 2019 we were awarded the Innovation Grant by The Children’s Trust to form a partnership with local service providers in Homestead, Florida with a goal to increase reporting of youth sexual violence from the bystander perspective by creating an immersive, relatable social change board game. 

To ensure that our board game was relevant to youth in Homestead, service providers recruited youth they worked with to develop the game with us. Twelve youth between the ages of 14 and 18 collaborated with our consultants and service providers over 10 development meetings. 

They were trained in interviewing tactics and went out into their community to gather stories about their peers’ experiences with sexual violence.  Trainings were also conducted to familiarize youth with different aspects of board games, including specific considerations for social change board games. 

When it comes to developing a project around a sensitive topic such as sexual violence, particularly when youth are involved, there were several steps we took. 

First, we made an effort to create a trusting environment for youth and service providers present during these meetings. By engaging in some fun icebreakers, we encouraged members of our partnership to get to know one another and feel comfortable sharing. 

Second, we encouraged youth to lead the conversations during meetings, emphasizing their expertise. The board game presents players with scenarios that put them in the shoes of a bystander. Each game will last about 25 minutes and will be facilitated by a trained professional to encourage a conscious conversation about youth sexual violence among players. 

After pilot testing in April and May and final adjustments, the board game will be provided free of charge to service providers in Homestead to educate the community about youth sexual violence. Preliminary evaluation of CHO!CES shows the game to be a promising practice in sexual violence interventions. 

If you have any questions about this initiative, you can contact Dr. Maritza Concha at maritza@covianconsulting.com


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