Creative Fictions, Speculative World Building and Participatory Narratives: Designing table-top role-playing worlds for design(er) synergies

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The idea of ‘Synergy’ is often elusive and limited by the parameters of transient projects which call different disciplines together for a purpose but then leave them with no further transdisciplinary engagement once the project is finalised. This workshop is framed by research into the way in which the process of designing and playing together becomes a critical dialogical process that unites and expands individual circles of understanding.  It offers a playful method to engage different disciplines in opportunities for communication and connection with potential for self-reflection and change. Since Gaver’s (2002) call for designers to understand themselves as Homo Ludens– people who are not just creative and imaginative but also playful – game design and play have been accepted as speculative spaces that facilitate opportunity for critical play (Flanagan 2009). Critical play goes beyond entertainment and acts as a portal to creative expression, an instrument for conceptual thinking and a tool for social change. More recent discussions focus on the inclusion of the activity of design-ingin this context (Coulton et al., 2017), arguing that the craft of world building equates with that of creating speculative designs and 

Design Fictions. Our own work involves knowledge holders from a range of different disciplines and suggests that designing fictional worlds and alternative futures (and pasts) creates opportunity for synergy between different knowledge holders, backgrounds and perspectives. The coming together of these multiple perspectives in the act of designing a fictional speculative world enables intense and critical re-thinking of possible pathways for more sustainable futures through playful trans-disciplinarity. 

In this workshop, we invite participants from all design disciplines to explore the speculative possibilities of table-top role-playing game world designing as an opportunity for synergies, playful discussion and insights across discipline boundaries.