Why We Made CircleTales
Back in January 2017, on the heels of the release of the groundbreaking new book, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls that reframed history to include remarkable women throughout the centuries, and in light of the tsunami of pink pussy hats that swept the globe in a spirit of protest and solidarity, we realised that as parents of our then eleven year-old daughter, we could not afford to be complacent.
Additionally, we were aware of the emerging research linking screen time and depression among 14 year-olds, especially for girls, and decided it was time for us to find more ways to support offline family time together.
We turned to popular board games, but to be honest, we did not like the competitive, resource hoarding themes that seemed so prevalent. And with backgrounds in arts education and design we were turned off by garish imagery that seemed to promote violent behaviour and damaging stereotypes that frankly we found unhealthy and unsupportive for raising respectful and empowered girls AND boys.
What we really wanted was a beautifully designed game premised on empowering play rather than preconceived narratives and/or gendered character roles. We loved the rich traditions of storytelling, of tales told around a campfire, stories that are entertaining, thrilling, full of wisdom; ancient stories like Baba Yaga that can make one shake in fear, yet also carry profoundly meaningful archetypes (read Women Who Run With the Wolves to dig into this theme).
While we began to think about what kind of game WE would like to play, we recognised that collaborative storytelling is a powerful tool for forging connection and strengthening bonds within families, friend groups, and broader communities.
And so we began to work in earnest to create CircleTales the Adventure Storytelling Game, conceiving of it as a collaborative game that would allow people of all ages to create totally original stories together; a game that would empower children (and adults!) to become active listeners and confident speakers whilst developing their creative sides. Our daughter Lilly was particularly keen to see something that did not play to the usual ‘girlie’ stereotypes, and so we came up with the Moon Card questions that start off every game and draw out personal words that are woven into the story, allowing players to bring more of themselves to the game.
As we began trialling CircleTales, we realised that people found it to be engaging, exciting, and very often deeply touching. We witnessed how younger children amazed the adults with their imaginative contributions to the story, and that children found the adults hilarious when they responded to the Moon Card questions or contributed a funny bit of detail to the shared story. We saw a surprising vulnerability and tenderness between friends and family as their creative voices emerged, and it began to dawn on us what a powerful experience CircleTales offered by supporting players to journey together to create a shared imaginative landscape through storytelling.
As CircleTales makes its way into the hearts and homes of people around the world, we feel humbled and honoured that in some small way we are making a difference by providing a game that supports friends, families, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren to develop meaningful connections through storytelling and playfulness; a game that counters conventional stereotypes, and supports people of all ages to more fully value each other and every individual’s uniquely creative voice.
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