This board game cafe ethnography is run by the Games & Technologies (G&T) group with the support of TORCH. This project aims to explore the entanglements of space, play, community, and identity in the context of a board game cafe. Board games have been enjoyed for centuries, and in recent years, they have seen a surge in popularity. The rise of board game cafes has made it easier for people to come together and enjoy a shared experience, fostering a sense of community and social connection. These games also offer opportunities for critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making, making them a valuable tool for education and cognitive development. As such, we’re interested in investigating these themes at Oxford’s very own board game cafe: Thirsty Meeples.
This ethnographic project will address the following questions: what role does the board game cafe as a space play into our board game playing experiences and our identities? How do we as players experience group dynamics as we play? What changes do we notice, and why? How do both the board game cafe space and the group dynamics influence us as individuals? To do so, we will use autoethnographic approaches, participant observation, and semi-structured interviews.
Through this project, we hope to 1. gain insight into the ways board game cafes cultivate a unique sense of space and contribute to senses of community and identity and 2. develop our methodological toolkit and research skills for all our members in G&T.
G&T is an interdisciplinary reading group with lead by Oxford DPhil students with participants across multiple academic departments (including Oxford, Cambridge, and Edinburgh) and industry. We explore ideas surrounding video games, mixed and extended realities (VR, AR, XR, MR, etc), digital play, and interactive environments, the ways in which they are designed and ways people engage with them, and the ways in which these technologies shift societal and cultural understandings.
For any queries, please reach out to Amanda Curtis (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Games and Technologies Reading Group is part of the TORCH Critical-Thinking Communities