Jogos de Mesa contra Fake News: Collaboration between Meedan, Fiocruz, and BCU Game Cultures cluster

By Charlotte Stevens on January 17th, 2024

This blog post summarises the content of a Game Cultures cluster work in progress presentation given on 1 Nov 2023, which discusses two days of workshops held on 25-26 August 2023, at Fiocruz in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The event was funded by Meedan as part of the Check Global project, and gathered together approx. 35 attendees from across Brazil, with project funding mainly used for airfare and hotel. This is significant because Brazil’s large geographic area, population distribution, and public transportation situation means that is rare for folks working in the same area to gather in the same place. In attendance were staff from Meedan and BCU, with event designed as a pilot study testing both a model of delivery and as activity in and of itself that would prompt conversation around themes of media literacy and games.

Across the two days we had six different workshops delivered, to participants who were students, local schoolteachers, NGO workers with an interest in media literacy, and academics; the teams delivering workshops participated in the other sessions in turn. In random order, the workshops were:

  1. Repropondo Jogos de Tabuleiro from a team at Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), focusing on reskinning card games and using existing systems to model other scenarios
  2. Projeto Confabulando from a team at Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), a series of word games to interrogate language used for truthful/deceitful communication
  3. RPG: narrativas e investigações presented by Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz)/Estácio de Sá University/PUC-Rio – Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, discussing role-playing games and how narratives/scenarios foster inquisitive stance
  4. Projetando jogos para pensamento crítico: explorando História do Brasil, nacionalismo e nostalgia, from Federal University of Paraíba (UFPB), during which participants created a board game about Brazilian history
  5. A linguagem secreta dos jogos from Ludus Magisterium, with the workshop title translating to ‘Secret language of games’
  6. Desenvolvimento e aplicação de jogos analógicos como proposta de literacia crítica de mídia e combate à desinformação presented by LINC-Design, which was about developing critical media literacy tools via games based in news stories

Despite a language barrier (we from BCU are not fluent in Portuguese), the fact that the daily debriefs ran twice as long as planned and that we had 24 responses to post-event questionnaire alone suggest a strong level of engagement with the project. Analysis of this feedback and other observations is still ongoing, but overall it does seem to have been a successful event.

Out of this experience we are writing a funding bid to extend the project by testing this model in a range of European countries (specifics still under discussion; to be defined by the European funder’s scope for delivery), to extend the possible impact of the initial pilot. We are also working in collaboration with Brazilian colleagues to develop academic outputs to present at key game studies conferences, which will then form the basis of at least one journal article. To quote from one abstract currently under consideration:

We conclude that the outcome of the workshops was not that our participants had learned to make games based on ideas around media literacy, but rather that they had learned how to use games to extend the media literacy of themselves and others. Games, and in particular discussions about making games, encouraged participants to explore their expertise around media literacy and to refine it by reflecting on media literacy as a systematic and mechanical challenge. This is distinct from approaches that see games and gameplay as vehicles for learning, and can be captured in the idea of thinking with and through games, rather than learning from them.