Southend is a seaside town in Essex, famed for the longest pleasure pier in the world and the fact Rachel Riley (from Countdown) was born there. I had never been there before this weekend. Not that it’s particularly far from where I live; it just hadn’t ever really come up.
But, why on earth am I rambling on about it?
Well, it is now home to the project that I will be writing my entire dissertation on!
Play your place is encouraging people from around Southend to help build a video game that is promoting changes in their community. The whole idea is basically getting people who don’t usually have a say in their surroundings to get involved and make a difference!
The team have been going to schools and local events since April to build up story boards of characters and backgrounds, as well as, ideas for the kind of changes that local people want. Soon we’ll be able to see what they’ve been up to properly because the game launches at the village green festival next week!
I visited one of the workshops this weekend and was happy to see that local people genuinely did want to get involved. Even people who could ‘only draw stick men’ were having a go, and for people who had very little time, they were encouraged to write their change on a massive board and have their picture taken with it. All of these pictures are up on their website which I definitely encourage you to go and explore.
Once I’ve been to the launch, and met up with the people who came up with Play your place I will be able to give you a better idea of how it’s all going to fit into my dissertation. All I can tell you for now is that I’ve met lots of really passionate people who want to change their town through this wonderful piece of participatory art, and I cannot wait to see how it all pans out, and I hope you can’t too!