Don’t fall into the Publishing Trap!

It’s been quite some time in development but our new board game, the Publishing Trap is finally being launched next week at the University of Kent and then in November at City, University of London. After play-testing the game over the summer, colleagues at the University of Kent decided the game would be a great way of promoting open access to academics and researchers. We are therefore running a week of activities and playing the game at the Canterbury campus as well as at the Drill Hall Library on the Medway site. This is to tie in with Kent’s celebrations (a week early to avoid half term!) for Open Access Week.
The Publishing Trap board and tokens

For those of you who might have played our game back at LILAC 2016 (we were runners up in Lagadothon), it’s moved on considerably since then. Chris had the original idea that through movable parts, velcro icons and eventually a complex 3-D structure (just like mousetrap), academics could learn about the flow of knowledge, money and impact in the scholarly communication process. He wanted to teach them about concepts such as open access, and the importance of copyright and licensing in their work as academics. Perhaps the ideas were a little elaborate and needed some refining, which was where I came in, but the basic principles of the game remain with the benefit of having incorporated lessons from playing it with a range of different audiences.

Misha the Criminologist

The game now follows four fictional characters in each of the major academic disciplines as they progress through their academic career, from PhD submission to Professorship, via each round of the game. The players, in small teams, get to make choices about how they want to publish and communicate their research and win points for knowledge, money and the impact they make. More recently we came up with the idea of Wildcards and Skills cards which has added extra elements of chance to the game. Skills cards give players the opportunity to improve their skills to assist in their choices during the rounds. Meanwhile Wildcards can lead to some unexpected academic traumas (as well as good fortune)!

Impact token

The game’s main aim is to help academics and researchers understand how scholarly communication is a balancing act, between the need to get published and make an impact, and to get your research out there into the wider world. You evaluate the choices available to academics at different stages in their career. Through discussion with the other players you can compare open and more closed publishing routes. There are points awarded along the way; owl tokens for knowledge that makes it into the wider world, coin tokens for money, and impact tokens for how much academic credence your research attracts.

Athena the owl of knowledge

Perhaps the most exciting part of the work we’ve done in the last few months has been bringing in a professional graphic designer, Lisa Johnstone, who has been taking our hand-drawn board and clip-art icons and characters and turning them into original creations. And we also now have a fabulous logo for the game. We’re really looking forward to seeing how things turn out during the next round of development. Ultimately we plan to release the game under a Creative Commons licence but are currently exploring options for making the development and maintenance of the game sustainable. To do this we are building a community around the game, If you’d like to find out more or get involved in the development then we have a sign up form on our website. We’re also planning a series of showcase events in 2018, and if you’re interested in us coming to run the game at your institution then do get in touch.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.