Playing the game

This morning I gave a demo of my boardgame, Journey Home, as part of a mini-festival at Hackney Museum. One session was so remarkable that I wanted to record it.

The aim of the game is to “go home”, which is achieved, as you move through events in the different stages of life, by accumulating counters representing the different strands of “home”: shelter, family, community, environment, and inner peace. You need to get a total of 20 counters with at least 3 of each colour. Each player acquires characteristics and is asked to make decisions, with the other players discussing what that decision merits in terms of gaining or losing counters. It’s a game based on discussion and consensus.

Four of us played: a young woman who joined us later on, and two men, a younger man, a Jamaican, whom I’ll call A, and O, a quieter older friend, an Eritrean with not much English. A was enthusiastic, competitive, and in the game had an eventful and positive journey. I had a pretty rotten one – being frightened of being alone, my business failing and my house compulsorily purchased. But A, who was “the youngest of six” and I were, in terms of the game, “family” and when I was trying to make a decision about what to do about my house, I said, “Oh, I come from a big family, maybe they can help.” Whereupon A said, “Yes, I’m your bro; you can stay with me. You will have somewhere to live.”

A was nearly “home”, only lacking one silver shelter counter to get there, and he was pretty fed up when O managed to go home first. But the rules say that if you have extras when you go home, you can give them to someone else to help them go home too. O had 21 counters, and the extra one was shelter – so pushed it across the table to A and enabled him to go home too. They were the only two to go home before we stopped the game.

It was only after we’d finished that I asked O where he lived, and learned that both men were homeless, moving from one church shelter to another. That was where they had met.

There are no words.

(for details of Journey Home game and how to get it, go to www.journeyhomegame.com)