“Engage!” was created in 2018 by Monika Barget, Jack Kavanagh, Susan Schreibman, Kathleen Fitzpatrick and Sharon M. Leon. It is a board game or more specifically a serious game.

Wait a moment, a serious game? Isn’t that contradictory?

Serious games attempt to combine learning with the fun competitiveness of games to create a better and long lasting learning experience. And that’s exactly what “engage!” is about. It’s a game to learn about public humanities and community engagement in a fun way by conversing and discussing on the path from the start to the finish line.

The game was created with traditional archives, libraries, museums and humanities scientists in mind and intends to playfully introduce them to the possibilities and challenges of public humanities. But since public humanities as well as community engagement are themes of interest for many more fields and groups, the game is open for everyone. At the annual MLA conference in the USA and at a DH workshop in Coimbra (Portugal) in spring 2019, the game was first presented to a wider audience and played with volunteers. It has now been revised and will be constantly updated to meet the requirements of those who use it.


How to play the game if you’re a group that….

1. …already knows about public humanities / community engagement, but wants to use the game as an icebreaker to start discussions and exchange knowledge and experiences:

If you are already familiar and maybe even experienced with the concepts of public humanities and community engagement, no special preparation is needed before starting the game. However if there are uncommon terms or scenarios that need explanation, the website of the game will provide additional information and resources. For further research or newly sparked interests, the reading list on the game website may provide a good starting point.

2. …just learned about public humanities / community engagement and wants to deepen and test that knowledge:

If you are still new to public humanities and community engagement, it’s altogether advisable to recapture the existing knowledge about these fields and maybe keep some notes at hand. It is further recommended to browse through the reading list on the website beforehand and look through themes that you are still unfamiliar with. Since the game presumes a certain amount of prior knowledge, these actions help ensuring a fluent gameplay. Though it is also possible to look up further information at any given time during the game if there may still appear some uncertainties.

3. …wants to use this game as a starting point to learn about public humanities / community engagement:

In this case, the game experience will be split into the gameplay itself and the research inbetween the cards, to be able to understand the given tasks or questions. For explanations and resources the game website can be used as a starting point, though going through the reading list or further research would take up to much time. This way of playing the game is possible but not advisable if a fluent gameplay is desired. In this case doing the research separately and beforehand and using the second scenario as playing instructions would be the better choice. However, if the goal is to create an interactive learning and research session that’s intermitted by questions or tasks that may spark new fields or themes to explore and discuss, this is the way to go.