Learning About Ourselves: Communicating, Connecting and Contemplating Trans Experience Through Play





LGBTQ, trans, digital games, live-action role-playing, edu-larp, non-formal learning, informal learning, game-based learning, analog games, gamevironments


This article posits that intentional non-formal and informal educational game design can provide an opportunity for the safer exploration of, and learning about, (trans)gender subjectivities. Non-formal and informal learning has been shown to be a more accessible and safer proposition for marginalised communities who are often excluded from formal and recognised social institutions. Non-formal and informal learning is also a structurally appropriate approach for exploring counter-normative topics, including diversities of gender and sexualities. I will demonstrate how studies of game-based learning and edu-larp put these principles into practice through gameplay and framing activities which facilitate experiential and situated learning. I will argue that this approach is particularly useful for the simulation of the complex intersectional socio-cultural function of gender. I will conclude that an edu-larp design approach can provide the basis for intentional educational game design utilising principles of safer containers of play, emancipatory bleed, and transformative role-play to explore trans experience, for both trans- and cis-participants alike.

Author Biography

  • Josephine Baird, Department of Game Design, Uppsala University

    Josephine Baird is a Lecturer at the Uppsala University Department of Game Design and a PhD candidate at the University of Vienna in Education. She holds a BSc. in Psychology and Philosophy and MSc. in Gender Studies, both from the London School of Economics. She is a game designer and game design consultant, as well as a writer and visual artist. Her work often relates to the intersection between games, identity, gender, and sexualities. Her research and recent publications present the theoretical and methodological basis for her thesis that role-playing games might provide a potent opportunity for people to explore gender subjectivities in safer environments. Her current research will conclude with the design of a live action role-playing game that puts this theoretical work into practice. She is also an actor, public speaker, and co-host of the podcast It Is Complicated. More information at josephinebaird.com






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