08 March 2024

Abertay Game Lab research project contributes to the discussion around daily harassment and violence against women in public spaces

Right 2 Roam ‘loaded dice’ game highlights women’s safety inequalities

Dr Mona Bozdog wearing a pink jumper and Prof Robin Sloan wearing a blue jumper standing beside the board game

“We arm ourselves – car keys between fingers, phone fully charged, walking the long way round on fully lit and populated roads.”

Dr Mona Bozdog of Abertay University’s Division of Games and Arts is one of the designers of a unique, educational and awareness-raising board game created to spark discussion and debate about the potential dangers women face when walking alone.

Aligned with International Women’s Day’s aspirations to raise awareness of discrimination, Right 2 Roam is a board game featuring challenging themes around societal injustices and imbalances of power. Forming part of a wider research project, the game assigns players to roles that reflect real-world gendered imbalances before tasking them with navigating a board based on city streets.

Players will receive dice with different options, scenario cards with varying levels of threat and protection, and a range of routes, shortcuts and spaces. Blending gaming, storytelling and advocacy, the tabletop game offers players the opportunity to understand the challenges and concerns faced by all individuals, but particularly women.

Co-created with the University’s Professor of Game Design and Culture, Robin Sloan, the Abertay Game Lab research team considered the national conversation and statistics around women’s safety. The research underpinning Right 2 Roam can be found on the Abertay University research and knowledge exchange pages. The paper notes that 70% of women overall and 97% of women in the 18-24 bracket in the UK have experienced sexual harassment in public (UN Women UK, 2021). It also notes that one in two women feel unsafe walking alone after dark in a quiet street near their home as well as in a busy public place, and four out of five women feel unsafe walking alone after dark in a park or other open space (ONS, 2022).

The development and playtesting of Right 2 Roam concluded with the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) campaign in November and December, run jointly between the University and Abertay Students’ Association. During sessions coinciding with International Women’s Day activities in Dundee and also further ahead, the game will be taken into the community to be used as a tool for activism and civic engagement to prompt discussion around the inequalities of movement and safety in public places. Students, including Student President and gender equality campaigner, Olivia Robertson, were invited to play the game, providing feedback and real-life testimonies to help evaluate it. 

Dr Bozdog said:

“For so many women, walking alone at night can be an experience laced with fear. We wanted to create something that could open up the conversation around women’s safety and gender equality and give players better insights into the types of choices that women have to make when doing something as simple as walking to the shops or visiting a friend. We are collaborating with others in the community to showcase the game at events around International Women’s Day, and plan to use it as a tool for engagement and education going forward.”

Professor Sloan added:

“Right 2 Roam is a great example of our approach to tackling real world and societal issues within our Abertay Game Lab research group. We see both tabletop and video games as a route to connecting people, starting conversations, exploring ideas, and hopefully achieving impact within communities. In 2024 we will be looking to expand the reach and format of the game, by creating other iterations with new partners interested in the safety and accessibility of public spaces.”

Share This

Pause carousel

Play carousel