Today sees the launch of a new Shift venture that’s built on our 10 years of work strengthening communities in the UK and US. It’s called MadeByPlay.
MadeByPlay creates ‘social games’ with communities and workplaces that ignite dialogue, boost empathy and stimulate collective action.
MadeByPlay’s 10 year journey
MadeByPlay’s journey started out in 2009, when we created a global online platform Historypin.org to connect communities by amplifying hidden histories. The platform engaged more than 4,000 cultural heritage institutions and hundreds of thousands of people shared photos and stories with a worldwide audience.
Historypin went on to activate community participation at a hyper-local level for our two-year King’s Cross Story Palace project, as well as working nationally to boost empathy in communities across the UK and USA with our playful storytelling toolkits, Storybox.
Throughout our time working in this space, we’ve been able to evaluate the effectiveness of a diverse set of strategies and methods for strengthening communities and activating community participation. What we found is that meaningful participation is generated when spaces are open and safe, where people are able to explore socio-cultural issues in cooperation with each other, rather than being led to do so.
One of the most effective ways to make this happen was to turn participation into a playful activity. By building in game mechanics and making engagement fun we could ignite dialogue, give people permission to say and do things they normally wouldn’t, and build empathy.
What are social games?
Social games are playful toolkits and activities that alter or strengthen relationships and help people to function better together – whether in communities or in the workplace. Social games achieve this by doing three things really well:
1. Social games put people in the lead
…and encourage players to collectively take ownership over their experience. When people feel ownership and immersion, this generates a state of openness to explore, discover and adapt together.
2. They put aside hierarchies, roles and identities
This helps to create environments that give permission for people to say and do things they normally wouldn’t in real world environments.
3. They challenge existing perspectives
By abstracting everyday scenarios into gameplay, players can detach from their own roles and step into the world of others. This builds empathy, helps people understand perspectives different to their own, and has the power to shift mindsets.
A business model for sustainability
The business model behind MadeByPlay intentionally combines social impact and financial sustainability.
Impact for communities
We support the third-sector, local authorities and housing associations to create practical and accessible social games that inspire people to explore challenges in their communities for themselves, ignite dialogue, build empathy, create groups of people that work well together, and stimulate practical action.
We’ve already got active partnerships underway creating social games for social action, strengthening youth programmes and encouraging community participation.
Positive change for workplaces
We apply our years of insight and experience tackling social divides in communities, to make playful activities and programmes that help employees function better together. Working with two national charities, we’re already impacting employee dialogue, cohesion and productivity.
We partner with workplaces through paid services which feeds directly into community impact projects.
Visit madebyplay.org to find out more or get involved.