PeaceCraft - Play to Change
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Flanders is characterised by a growing diversity. Migration and integration are central concepts in our present-day society. By means of an interactive game and a participative theatre performance for sixteen to twenty year-olds, !DROPS and U Move 4 Peace (UM4P) want to turn development education into a practical exercise in a creative and captivating way. The following questions formed the starting point: Why and how do refugees come to Belgium? How do they build a new future? What role can Flemish young people play in this?
During creative labs in the Red Cross reception centre in Linkeroever, the organisations became acquainted with various young refugees and got to know their stories. Based on these stories and the already known context built up in working together with refugees for years, UM4P and !DROPS set to work.
UM4P created a play about a meeting between two seventeen year-olds from completely different worlds. Themes such as integration, co-existing with different cultures and uncertainty are addressed. The actors are professionals with a migration background and the audience is also actively involved and comes on stage to test strategies.
After the creative labs, !DROPS threw its weight behind the development of an on-line game, which transforms the smartphone of the user into that of someone who has to undertake the journey from Syria or Afghanistan to Europe. The aim is to inform the public in an accessible manner and to get them to experience what young refugees effectively experience during their journey. !DROPS got together with game developer Poppins & Wayne. Together they organised design labs in the reception centre to develop the concept of the game further, to map out their exact escape route together with the young refugees and to devise two fictional characters, each with their own story.
The game zooms in on the situation in the homeland of the two characters and the route they have travelled to Belgium. As a player you are confronted with the choices that these young people have also struggled with. You soon realise how important the smartphone is when you are fleeing for your life. The smartphone functions as the only connection to the familiar world, as a compass and GPS, or simply as a torch,... if your battery and wifi do not fail on the way, that is.