Jamie Harper’s Story

Author: Jamie Harper
Jamie Harper’s Story

Jamie Harper's 2013 Fellowship saw him travel to the USA to work with designers of 'Serious Games', creating playful platforms for people to explore issues of vital concern in their lives.

The Fellowship

Jamie Harper is a theatre director based in London. Recent years have seen a proliferation of theatre works that offer opportunities for audience participation. Jamie wanted to use his Fellowship to research game design as a means of enhancing the creative agency of people who take part in participatory drama.

During two visits to the University of Miami in 2013 and 2014, Jamie worked with game designers Clay Ewing and Lien Tran to learn about how they use system analysis to translate data from real world scenarios into playable games. By studying the work of these designers, whose games focus on substantial topics such as Dengue Fever in Uganda, the rights of immigrant children arriving in the United States, and the 'Condoms of Evidence' policies which are used in many countries to incarcerate sex workers for possession of condoms, Jamie developed theoretical knowledge and practical skills in devising his own Serious Games.

The Results

Following his Fellowship, Jamie received commissions to produce games about subjects such as economics and climate change, power and democracy, and European migration, as well as a play project for children about the transition from primary to secondary school. He has also presented original games at festivals overseas including Grenselandet in Oslo, Blackbox CPH in Copenhagen and the Minsk Larp Festival in Belarus.

In the latter part of 2015, Jamie diversified his skill set in game design by attending the Larpwriter Summer School in Lithuania, an international symposium on live action role-play games. Following on from this opportunity, in early 2016 he produced The Lowland Clearances, a role-play game about the UK housing crisis, supported by The Peabody Trust, at Camden People's Theatre. As a result of playing together in this piece, two serving Councillors in the Borough of Camden, representing the Green and Conservative parties respectively, began an ongoing dialogue about local housing policy.

Jamie's Fellowship not only equipped him with practical expertise in game design, it also gave him the confidence to advocate for the use of games in myriad artistic, educational, social and professional contexts and position his discussion of games and drama within larger cultural discourses. He is currently pursuing a practice-based PhD on the merging of games and drama, supported by Research Excellence Academy funding at Newcastle University, and recently organised The Smoke, London's first international festival of live action role-play games, held in January 2017.

Jamie believes that games have the potential to stimulate playful, innovative thinking on complex subjects. He is committed to using the knowledge gained from his Fellowship to make games that build bridges between people and offer scope for human connection, understanding and co-operative action.

Read Jamie’s report here

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