New Fire To An Old Passion: Boardgames!

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By Mark Ellis, Cohort 8, Groundswell Build

Each week, a participant in Groundswell’s Build program shares reflections, learnings, and experiences from their journey of building a social venture. See current and past participant posts in the Student Blog.


Just before joining Groundswell, I started reaching out to find my people.

Reconnecting to a passion I pushed aside in recent years has been exhilarating, like a burst of self-discovery. Board games are exploding in popularity, and connecting with other aspiring designers has been a great journey in just a few short months. I never imagined that the Meetup group I floated hopefully into the ether in September would now be tipping the scales at 225 members, or that I would find collaborators to host design events with so quickly.

Groundswell is helping me to harness this inspiration, and to focus on building an effective enterprise. I really enjoy learning from both the mentors and the cohort, but for research types like me the key is probably the kick up the backside that gets me to implement plans and take action.

In December, our first board game design jam brought dozens of local board game enthusiasts and designers together in a fun-filled afternoon. Participating in small teams, attendees created seven new game prototypes, all in under three hours. It was a wonderful start, and it feels great to be building on this momentum.

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Without play, life would be dull indeed. But games can also feel indulgent in the face of inequality. My work with homeless populations and low income youth puts much into perspective. My guiding vision is to use the power of games for good, and create something sustainable that provides opportunity for at risk youth. No doubt there will be challenges, and I may lose a few games along the way – but as a great sportsman said, ‘if you’re afraid of losing, then you daren’t win’. Groundswell helps me to dare, and without being part of the program, I would probably still be dreaming.

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