Dobble Debate logo, two capital D's, Dobble in orange, Debate in blue
Educator's Guide

Dobble Debate's Overview & Guide

Gameplay for an Equitable World

Introduction

drawing of a pair of eyes
The Eyes, Blindfold drawing, 03/25/17, paint marking pen, 6” x 7”
artist: Jack Butler, Dobble Debate co-creator
Photo credit: Sasha Furlani

Dobble Debate supports educators in facilitating creative and respectful discussions about disability. By providing a ready-to-go game, gameplay examples and assets, this resource is designed to encourage learners to consider their perspectives on disability by developing their own gameplay.

Dobble Debate recognizes that every individual's life experience is different, and changes significantly based on their current environment. The term disability used throughout this project explicitly acknowledges the D/deaf and hard of hearing, disability, differing abilities, autism, and neurodiversity plus (DDDAND+). This acronym does not cover all the diverse identities usually lumped under 'disability'; we are using it to draw attention to the variety of human experience.

Dobble Debate also recognizes that people with disabilities have struggles and disadvantages others do not; however, we all benefit, individually and collectively, when we celebrate the gifts disabled persons bring to the classroom, workplace, community and elsewhere.

This phase of this project was conceived, co-designed and co-created in partnership with a variety of disabled community members. Committed to changing conversations around what it means to live with disabilities, our workshop participants experience everything from deafness and blindness, to learning disabilities and mental health issues; some experience multiple concurrent challenges and so offered especially nuanced perspectives.

This online version of the project uses classic Web technologies (HTML5, CSS and Javascript) for accessible design—to ensure immediate and ongoing ease of use and availability. This format makes this site available to educators and learners across geographies, time zones and teaching contexts. It is designed to give educators, gamers and learners new perceptions around how they interact with the world—and how their family, friends, communities, peers and colleagues do.

Using the Resource

Dobble Debate is easy to play and includes options for engaging in countless ways. 'Dobble' is a nonsense word chosen to indicate that this game is light-hearted and a safe space to be silly. The use of ‘debate’ signifies players’ collaborative discussion and interplay as thoughtful exchange.

This entire site has been designed to assist both educators and students as they personalize gameplay to reflect their own interests and perspectives; learning and growing, and taking pleasure in gaming, are of equal importance. To that end the site has two streams to inspire users to mix and match assets for various pedagogical needs:

Pre-Baked Games are examples of ways to use the provided assets to catalyze discussion, such as the Ready-to-Go, our pilot game, which features debate, competition and audience participation. Other pre-baked options were co-developed in workshops and include assets like the Narrative Game, the Cooperative Game, the Erasing Labels Game and the Intersectional Game.

The Bake-Your-Own (BYO) guide and assets can help you create your own unique games. Dobble Debate includes four decks of cards you can use: Abilities, Situations, Spark (stories of life experiences) and Dobble (points) cards, along with Avatars. Under the guidance of community co-creators who have visual impairment, our avatars have been designed as sensations rather than primarily visual representations. They are sensations that can be experienced, such as sunlight, grass and bubblegum. The BYO guide includes questions to help direct gameplay, define goals, and make play respectful and productive.

The Spark cards deck was created by the combined storytelling talents of our community co-creators living with disability and core team members. The stories encompass a range of human experience from humorous to touching and include everyday narratives and innovation from peoples' daily lives. As these cards reflect the life experiences of people living with disability they are a thoughtful way to start creating your own gameplay.

Learning Objectives

This Educator Guide is intended to help teachers, instructors, professors and community leaders: 

  • facilitate creative and respectful learner discussion and debate around disability,
  • expand pedagogical practice to include more learner-driven gameplay,
  • develop flexible, accessible, ready-made resources easily integrated into current courses; and
  • pedagogically and technically innovate in socially responsive ways.

A Brief History

A mixed group of academics, students and Technoculture Art and Games (TAG) lab members, Hexagram, Concordia University, created Dobble Debate as an analogue card game to explore ideas and issues about DDDAND+. Nina Czegledy brought the project to OCAD University where educators and students joined to create a partnership with the TAG lab and further develop the game.

The analogue version of Dobble Debate raised the game's profile, nationally and internationally; we knew a digital version could maximize game dissemination, sustainability and accessibility. In 2021, we requested and received eCampusOntario funding to translate the game into a digital asset for Ontario’s post-secondary institutions.

Ethos

Humour and compassion are key to Dobble Debate. While playing, it is safe and acceptable to make mistakes, and learn through challenges to “normal” ways of thinking. Human difference is not treated as humourous, however. Respect is crucial; the absurdity of situations and the creativity of the discussion are the key to promoting laughter and connection.

The Dobble Debate team focused on capturing a range of experiences, not only hardships and challenges, for the conditions described in Abilities and Spark cards. For something to be fun, there must be action. Playing a game like this offers disabled individuals enjoyable moments of personal control—while also encouraging non-disabled participants to examine their own notions of disability.

Serious games are recognized for effectively communicating knowledge and developing understanding; but investing in gaming for pedagogy is still an emergent field. Our aims with an online game were to:

  • enable wider geographical and geo-cultural participation,
  • model best practices for accessibility tools,
  • involve people of all abilities, ages and differences; and
  • expose players to information and insights from various disability community groups.

We began this phase of Dobble Debate knowing we would adjust products and learning outcomes based on feedback from community leadership, students/learners, educators and disability activists. 

We planned review time for Universal Design for Learning and inclusive teaching principles, plus decolonization and sustainability. Game design and review underwent multiple creative, respectful and inclusive assessment stages.

We used our time with people listening, capturing stories, recording concerns and developing co-creation ideas; this included a multitude of thoughtful and detailed student/learner testimonials. We aimed for simplicity and accessibility in producing high-quality interactions and knowledge generation.

Co-creation Framework

The DDDAND+ community is very diverse, ranging from intellectual disability to hyper-visible physical conditions. There is no one community, though most share life experiences that often include being confronted with ableism and limited opportunity. Ensuring a wide range of disabled people contributed to all stages of this endeavour was crucial.

To that end we developed relationships amongst the team and community co-creators, viewing each person as an individual with their own unique contribution. Seven co-creation workshops, consisting of three two-hour sessions spread over several months, were conducted with small groups. Each group was made up of two to three community co-creators, together with a few core team members. This allowed everyone’s voice to be heard; it also gave each participant time to process their ideas and attend later sessions with increased understanding and creative input. Our community co-creators’ experiences and stories comprise the most important contributions to Dobble Debate.

Collaboration, co-design, ongoing consultation with community led to significant changes to our original plan, including:

  • Spark cards: We originally planned to create digital versions of analogue decks of our original Abilities, Situations and Dobble cards. Spark cards arose directly from community research and design consultations. These short personal narratives are invaluable additions to the many ways Dobble Debate may be used and played.
  • HTML5, CSS, Javascript: Co-design activities and participant inputs determined that these three tools would together make Dobble Debate more accessible; educators and players with low-tech or low-powered/low-bandwidth devices can smoothly access all of the included assets. This allowed us to create a sustainable learning environment that is designed to be used for many browser versions.
  • International Sign Language: Workshop participant Courage completed much of this project’s signing in International Sign Language (ISL). Having learned ISL at the Deaflympics, her perspective is that it is accessible to more peole internationally than American Sign Language (ASL).
  • Avatars: These quirky character cards were co-developed specifically as sensations, so visually impaired people can more readily relate to them. Coffee, Grass, Jellybeans, to name a few—all speak to the joy and community-building at the heart of Dobble Debate.
  • QR codes, Printable Cards: All of the project's assets are available for offline use. Printable PDFs include QR codes in the event that educators and players choose the option of using hard copy cards. Crucially, the QR codes will enable people to access digital assets such as hyperlinks, sound and video through the printed resources.

Going Forward

Online and interactive, Dobble Debate’s Creative Commons license will encourage reuse and extensive uptake. The digital game is being hosted on GitHub where developers and diverse communities can fork or develop the code for their own versions according to the provisions defined in our Creative Commons licence.

Our hope is that the game will be replenished by the community, through links to vetted, dedicated sources so it stays current and can be broadcast widely. The viral nature of gaming continuously attracts new and diverse audiences; this will in turn bolster the game’s innovative evolution over time.

Other Resources

The entire Dobble Debate site has been built to work much like a typical educator’s guide; used in tandem with this guide, you have all you need to begin playfully expanding your learners’ understanding of disabilities. You may also find the following resources useful:

Contact

Lynne Heller, PhD

hello@dobbledebate.com