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This project supported the Board Games Café, where members of the public play short, science-themed board games each hosted by a University of Oxford researcher, who uses the game to communicate their academic research.

One young male playing a boardgame with two children © Ian Wallman

What was the project about?

The project was about using board games as a tool for communicating academic research to the general public. Researchers from across the University of Oxford with an interest in board games came together and developed their own novel board games about the research they do. These games were added to a collection of commercial board games with science themes and used at various Board Games Café events. These events invited members of the public to come and play the games along with the researchers and learn about the science behind them.

How did the seed fund support the project?

The Public Engagement with Research Seed Fund funded the equipment necessary to create semi-professional board games, as well as supporting the hosting and advertising of Board Games Café events. The seed fund also provided money for purchasing leading science-themed games from the commercial market, so that the team were able to showcase at events the quality and type of board game that they were aspiring to achieve. 

The project was able to extend a little further than originally anticipated due to the generosity of the many venues who allowed them to host events free of charge.

The fund also supported the team to develop a website and social media presence on Twitter and Facebook.

What were the benefits of the project?

The Board Games Café project allowed members of the public to learn about cutting-edge research in a fun, accessible format. The project encouraged a variety of audiences to take part in events, particularly families, so that parents and children shared the experience and learnt together.

Researchers involved in the project have had the opportunity to develop their public engagement skills, interacting with different age groups and testing novel public engagement activities. The project has also been selected by the University's Public Engagement Team for a case study into improving evaluation and feedback techniques.

Going forward, the team are in the process of applying for funding to grow the project, and hope to expand its influence to other UK and overseas research sites associated with Oxford. Watch this space!


Transmission Game        Transmission Game

IF Oxford Frankenstein: ‘University of Oxford, copyright John Cairns’IF Oxford Frankenstein: ‘University of Oxford, copyright John Cairns’