Facing Common Challenges Together, The SingaPlorers Way
They say that lessons are best learned through play, so why not create a board game to teach people about the challenges of nation-building?
Seeding the Idea
This was exactly what the team from Seeding Hutland did. The company, which is focused on developing educational games and resources for children, had initially created a card game on globalisation and world cultures called Little Explorers. After running a number of game sessions in schools and communities, some teachers approached the co-producer of the game, Woo Li Fong, to suggest developing a game on Singapore.
“We reflected on this and thought, yes, why not? We should get our children to learn about Singapore first! This was the birth of SingaPlorers – the Nation Builders,” said Li Fong.
In the SingaPlorers – the Nation Builders board game, players learn about the different challenges Singapore has faced, from its birth as a new nation in 1965, right through 50 years of nation-building, to 2015. Li Fong shared that it was intentionally designed as a cooperative game where the players have to play cards that support each other in overcoming challenges, paralleling the nation-building process. “Players have to work with each other, even making small sacrifices in the game, to overcome difficulties and achieve peace and progress for Singapore,” said Li Fong.
Creating a board game takes time and resources. Luckily, they were able to tap on the SG50 Celebration Fund and Community Integration Fund to develop SingaPlorers and bring the game to the community. “We were also fortunate to have the support of the People’s Association. With their help, we were able to launch the game as part of the SG50 celebrations in 2015,” said Li Fong.
Learning Through Play
Since its launch, the board game has been introduced to schools like Northoaks and Zhenghua Primary Schools. Northoaks even conducted a Singapore Book of Records event for 262 students playing the SingaPlorers board game in March, 2016.
SingaPlorers has also been played at grassroots events to help Singaporeans, immigrants, and foreigners integrate into Singapore society. The ONE Community Fiesta held by the Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC at the Singapore Zoo in November, 2016, for example, saw people of all ages and backgrounds trying their hand at the game. Singaporean Naresh Nandakumar, 11, and his cousins were so engrossed in the game that they played a few rounds. “It’s very interesting. I see now how Singapore has to overcome many challenges to be a strong country,” he said.
Some of the obstacles that players have to face in the game include Singapore’s limited resources and an aging population. They also learn through play about the importance of social cohesion and keeping Singapore safe and secure. Li Fong sees lessons for both young and old from all backgrounds. “During the game, you must display resilience, resourcefulness, adaptability and cooperation - the same treasured values of our pioneers. We hope that everyone who lives in Singapore, will come to understand and appreciate the values and policies ensuring that peace, prosperity and harmony prevail in our multicultural society,” she said.
Game On for Nation Building
For the producers of the game, this is only the beginning. SingaPlorers is now used at orientation programmes for the People’s Association Integration and Naturalisation Champions (INCs) where the game is played as part of the training to equip them with the knowledge to help newcomers settle in the community. To reach out to as many people as possible, the game can be downloaded for free at www.singaplorers.sg.
It is also being translated into Chinese, Malay and Tamil to reach a wider audience. “We want to make SingaPlorers as accessible as possible to everyone. We’ve had nothing but positive responses so far and this has spurred us to do as much as we can to get the word out,” said Rachel Kou, co-Producer of the game.
For Rachel and Li Fong, satisfaction is derived from creating a game that touches all communities in Singapore, while providing fun and some good, interactive lessons on nation building.