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Kelluwün: Digital Utopias! at RightsCon Costa Rica

23.08.2023 | Author: Soledad Magnone

Para leer en español, cliquea aquí

Kelluwun game board

At RightsCon 2023 we had the privilege of meeting in person with the Causas Digitales and JAAKLAC team for the first time. RightsCon was held in San José Costa Rica (5 - 8 June), in a hybrid virtual and in-person format. The hybrid strategy was especially important given the problems many people had in attending in person. This was due to time and money resources, among other factors, but also to visa restrictions by the Costa Rican government. These measures affected 300 participants from 64 countries, especially from Africa.

Together with Azeneth García, Edda Forero from Causas Digitales and Soledad Magnone we facilitated the virtual workshop “Kelluwün: Digital Utopias!" at the section “Futures, Fictions and Creativity”. Kelluwün was originally a project to be realised with funds with youth organisations and educational institutions from Latin America. The funding was not successful, but we decided to move forward with the game’s design and test a first version at RightsCon. This would also allow us to have a more solid proposal and then apply again for funding to expand its design and dissemination.

In this article we share with you the starting point of Kelluwün at RightsCon, how we tested it and some reflections of the participants.

Starting point of the game

Kelluwün (Mapudungun for collaboration) was initially conceived with a game strategy based on hopeful and dystopian scenarios. These would be a call to action to play to combat or achieve them. Among the ideas was that teams would organise themselves to collaborate, competing and cooperating, to achieve different goals. The dynamic would take players on a hero’s journey, with no right answers, reflecting to make sense of the challenges of our digital age.

Activists, hackers, tech giants, governments, academics, civil society organisations and international organisations would be part of the universe of characters. Digital warfare, internet blackouts, state surveillance, open data, fediverse, decentralised internet and much more would be the scenarios of the game. Cards, roulette wheels, roles, powers, questions and answers will be some of the provocations for the participants. These would be some of the challenges to be solved. Including from everyday practices when using digital technologies, to the design of policies and campaigns to materialise fairer horizons.

The game would be designed for young people and adults regardless of their knowledge of these issues. Although the dynamic was intended to respond from two places of enunciation, there would be a space at the end to talk about the dystopian and utopian scenarios that await our action.

Testing in RightsCon: join the adventure

We started the game by giving context to the objective, this being our first test and that we would leave space for feedback at the end of the session. We moved on to introduce the game’s setting and characters based on Data Detox Saga Latine’s campaign: Zuri, Ale, Yosi and Alan. Their stories were created by teenagers and young people from Mexico, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. The group of participants chose two SDDL characters to play in 2 groups:

This is how we started the game…

“We are in the year 2050 and the internet is the source of absolutely everything. The line between reality and virtuality is getting thinner and thinner. Everyone is very impressed with how technology has revolutionised their lives. There is no need to remember passwords anymore, no need to look after your information in the cloud, because it’s all there - online.

Zuri, Ale, Yosi and Alan have seen how technology has developed and transformed over the years. They met at the Causas Digitales group’s Letine Data Detox Saga campaign and decided to found Kelluwün. Motivated by their own experiences within the digital ecosystem, they decided to promote active citizenship…” (…)

Rumours have spread that “Trolls”, a malicious group of hackers, plan to steal all the world’s data to sell it to a technology company that seeks to charge each and every person for accessing their own information through an app - every time they need it. On 6 June, the lights go out for a brief moment and when the countries return, the data has been stolen and there is nothing in the cloud.” (Read the full story and access the game HERE in Spanish).

How would you act in a digital crisis? Let’s re-code the world!

After the groups were organised we started our first rehearsal. The board had boxes to move towards the goal. Each box had a thematic design (a) the Causas Digitales logo was dedicated to information about this group; (b) the computer design was about RightsCon; (c) the Venezuelan flag contained questions about internet censorship; (d) the Mexican flag about youth activism issues; (e) the Colombian flag contained questions about digital divides; and finally (f) the Colombian flag questions about digital divide; (e) the Colombian flag covered questions about digital divides; and finally (f) the zombie design involved being in Zombie mode - as in immobile - and having to find a creative way - using a character’s qualities - to get out of that state.

The questions were of different types, combining true and false, open-ended or choice answers. Some of these questions and answers were recycled from the Digital Causes Jeopardy game we organised at MozFest 2022. This version of the game had a smaller number of questions than we hope to have in a more developed and iterated version with more youth from Latin America. In the game link you can access the game board, and all the questions and answers under Creative Commons 4.0 license.

Reflections on the game

We closed the session by posing the following questions to get guidance on areas for improvement from the perspective of those who played the game:

Which aspects of the game did you find most positive and why? What was most negative and why? How can we connect powers, tools and allies of the characters? How to include the dimension of collaboration (Kelluwün)?

Below we summarise some of the ideas that emerged and reflections of the Digital Causes group:

  • The game turned out to be short and this triggered the idea of making an infinite game.
  • The board could have a Monopoly-like format.
  • Create character cards to be used to solve situations and thus advance in squares.
  • Add references to characters or cases involving trolls and hackers.
  • The Causas Digitales questions were very specific. As an example for alternatives, it was proposed to ask questions about events related to digital technologies that happened in 2020 (when Causas Digitales was founded).
  • Design questions linked to situations that the characters might face. For example, “X’s friend shares everything on social media, what would X do in that situation?” or “X is in zombie mode after being in a stream for 48 hours, how does she get out of that state?”
  • Make the game available in printable or analogue format. Also in an editable file for users to add or modify questions/categories.
  • Collaboration (Kelluwün) factor of the game: could be to pose a regional scenario and challenge to achieve something powerful. “In unity there is strength”.

Call to Action

  • Access the Kelluwün game HERE in Spanish. DeepL can help translate into other languages “D

  • Share about the game and your experiences by tagging @jaaklac @causasdigitales_lac #CausasDigitales.

  • Send us your comments and ideas to further develop the game. Let’s organise a new game with your collective, organisation or school! jallalla [at] jaaklac [dot] org

Updated 11.9.23: reference to the RightsCon Article “An open letter to the RightsCon community about RightsCon Costa Rica and what comes next”