One summer we received a call from the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin. The project "Migration Stories" wanted a game for use in youth leisure facilities and classrooms. It quickly became clear that nothing from our existing toolbox of methods really suited the museum's exciting ideas. But the longer we worked on the task, the more excited we became - because we were (once again) entering new territory, both methodologically and in terms of content.
In terms of content, the educational programme on "migration stories" was not intended to shed light on the current situation, but to show the complex historical context of migration and the interweaving of cultures and knowledge spaces. For before Wikipedia and Brockhaus, travel and migration and the associated exchange of valuable knowledge across political, geographical and cultural borders had a completely different significance. Social theories developed through exchanges in philosophy, navigation was refined through shared insights in astronomy, and the sharing of medical knowledge saved lives.
This is exactly the aspect of the theme we took on, creating an educational game in a class of its own: a cooperative board and card game in which the players are drawn into an adventure story. Their task is to travel through the Islamic world of the 14th century (AD) - or the 8th century of the Islamic calendar - and find a cure for the seriously ill Emir Yusuf I of Granada. Along the way, they meet historical figures and must work together to solve puzzles in order to win the game and cure Yusuf.
Methodologically, the complex game design with elements of storytelling, card games, board games and puzzles stood in contrast to the requirement to create an easy way into the game and to limit its duration to a double period if possible.
In cooperation with a great team consisting of experts at the museum, us as game designers, Elif Siebenpfeiffer as illustrator and Diversity Works as external anti-discrimination advisor, we ended up with a game that tends to make youngsters want to try it out the moment they hear about it. And the first runs show that participants are enthusiastic about playing the game as we were developing it.